Versus Whom Did the חכמים Argue in the Tosefta V: סדר נזיקין

???????????????????????????????Continuing on in the series of trying to better understand the somewhat mysterious group of חכמים that occasionally appear in the Mishnah as well as the Tosefta – focussing on the Tosefta in this series – primarily by looking at with whom they disagreed (see this earlier post, for instance), I am now examining סדר נזיקין.  Once again, Rabbi Meir is the most frequently-appearing sage:

רבי מאיר – 27
רבי יהודה – 15
רבי אליעזר – 7
רבי עקיבא – 5
עקביה בן מהללאל – 3
רבי – 3
רבי יוסי – 2
רבי אלעזר חסמא – 1
רבי דוסה – 1
רבי יעקב – 1
רבי נחמיה – 1
רבי נתן – 1
רבי שמעון – 1

Once again, Rabbi Meir is at the head of the pack with Rabbi Yehudah behind him, with a lot of appearances!  Yes, Rabbi Yehudah is the most frequently-appearing sage in the whole סדר, while Rabbi Meir is the fourth, although it is interesting to note that the חכמים are the second most frequently-appearing (curiously enough, Rabbi Eliezer is the tenth most frequently-appearing).  Of the appearances of the חכמים speaking against various sages, Rabbi Meir appears in 39.7% of them, Rabbi Yehudah appears in 22.1% of them, Rabbi Eliezer appears in 10.3% of them, and Rabbi Akiva appears in 7.4% of them.  These four sages account for three-quarters of all of the appearances of the חכמים arguing against sages.

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Just to show how much of Rabbi Meir’s statements have the חכמים appearing to argue on him, the frequency is 40.3%, meaning roughly two out of every five statements of his are challenged by this group!  We can contrast that with the next three: Rabbi Eliezer = 20.6%, Rabbi Akiva = 12.8%, and Rabbi Yehudah = 10.1%.  We can contrast this with Rabbi Yose (2.9%) or Rabbi Shim’on (1.6%), who are Rabbi Yehudah’s and Rabbi Meir’s contemporaries, and get very different frequencies.

It is very curious as to why Rabbi Meir gets a very high amount of response from the חכמים….

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