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Mesorah in the gemara

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1Mesorah in the gemara Empty Mesorah in the gemara on Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:37 pm

I'm basing this comment on a thread elsewhere in this section:
R' Zvi_ba suggested that Rav Ashi had a mesorah on R' Yochanon's position. I'd like to pose this as a question: Is it generally acceptable to learn that someone in the gemara had a mesorah?

Why not? Well, it seems to me that the gemara records mesorah very carefully. "R' __ said in the name of R' __, who quoted his yeshiva __." "When עולא arrived (from Eretz Yisroel), he quoted R' Yochonon as saying..." "The b'nei yeshiva were discussing __ and they said __. Then R' __ quoted __ on the topic..." And "Rava said in the name of Rav Yosef" - as opposed to "Rava said" himself.

I would have thought that we generally should assume that no one in the gemara had any information that is not presented to us. The ma'amarim, b'raisos, ma'asim, and other pieces of information presented explicitly - those are the building blocks of how we understand a gemara.

In addition to this, I of course acknowledge that the amoraim had at their disposal their understanding of כל התורה כולה, the entire rest of the Torah. That will certainly affect their overall understanding and therefore their approach to whichever sugya they are studying. So for example, in the case in the original comment, I would feel perfectly comfortable saying that Rav Ashi knew R' Yochonon's position based on his overall grasp of R' Yochonon's take on everything.

But in any gemara, where maybe Abbaye and Rava are arguing on how to explain some mishnah or some other point, I would always assume that they have no a priori idea, no advantage over the reader, and no way of knowing the right answer - aside from their own total grasp of Torah.

Is my assumption here way off base? (I am well aware that most people I meet do not learn this way. It just seems to me to be the פשוטו של מקרא.) Do others have examples of קדמונים suggesting that mesorah is present, unmentioned, in various gemaros?

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