QUESTIONS: The Gemara records an odd story involving Rav Anan and Rav Huna.
Rav Anan first sent a message to Rav Huna, calling him "Huna Chavrin" and
asking him to provide a certain woman with her "Isur Nechasim" (her Nedunya,
dowry, from a tenth of the estate of her father). Rav Huna, apparently upset
with the appellation that Rav Anan chose for him, made Rav Sheshes swear that
he would convey to Rav Anan the following statement: "Anan, Anan, [should I
give the dowry only] from land or even from mobile property? And who sits at
the head of the meal of an Avel (mourner)?"
This exchange is very perplexing.
(a) Why did Rav Anan lower the honor of Rav Huna by calling him, "Huna
ANSWER: RAV REUVEN MARGOLIYOS (in "l'Cheker Shemos u'Kinuyim b'Talmud," #11)
suggests a marvelous explanation for this incident.
(b) What did Rav Huna mean by sending a message in which he repeated Rav
Anan's name twice, "Anan, Anan?"
(c) Of all questions to ask, why did Rav Huna add the question about the
order of seating at the meal of an Avel? What does that have to do with
giving a woman her dowry from the land of her father or from his mobile
Rav Anan, he points out, was a member of the Reish Galusa's family, as we
find in Seder Olam Zuta. He was not the only member of the Reish Galusa's
family who called Rav Huna, "Huna Chavrin." Rav Nachman, the son-in-law of
the Reish Galusa (see Chulin 124a, Bava Basra 65a), also called Rav Huna,
"Huna Chavrin" quite often (Bava Metzia 15a, Chulin 56a, Nidah 16a). He even
referred to Rav Huna's son, Rabah bar Rav Huna, as "Bar Chavrin" ("the son of
our Chaver;" Beitzah 25a). In other places, we find that Rav Nachman called
Rav Huna "Huna" alone (Eruvin 42b; see also Kesuvos 7b, Kesuvos 68a, Bava
Metzia 71a, Bava Basra 138b). The fact that a number of members of the house
of the Reish Galusa referred to Rav Huna as "Huna Chavrin" indicates a
certain attitude of the Reish Galusa's family towards Rav Huna, which may be
explained as follows.
The word "Chaver," besides meaning a "friend" or "colleague," is also used in
the Gemara to refer to a Talmid Chacham who has not yet received Semichah and
is therefore not entitled to judge certain matters of law, such as cases of
Kenas penalties (Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 1:2, Kidushin 33b, Shemos Rabah 27:5).
The Yerushalmi (ibid.) tells us that one Huna was a "Chaver" and not a
"Chacham Musmach." Actually, the Bavli in Sanhedrin (5a) tells us that while
the Rav Huna of our Sugya did not receive Semichah from the Reish Galusa in
Bavel (although he lived in Bavel), he did receive Semichah from Rav, who
received Semichah from Rebbi Chiya, who received Semichah from Rebbi in Eretz
Yisrael. Because of this, Rav Huna's son, Rabah bar Rav Huna, during disputes
with the Reish Galusa, would say, "I don't need you -- my Semichah comes from
Eretz Yisrael and not from you!"
The Reish Galusa's family was upset that Rav Huna did not receive Semichah
from the Reish Galusa. They did not recognize the Semichah that he received
from Eretz Yisrael. This explains why Rav Anan and Rav Nachman referred to
Rav Huna as "Huna Chavrin," as opposed to "Chacham;" they did this in order
to emphasize that he was not considered a "Chacham Musmach," but only a
"Chaver." This also explains the exchange that we find in Pesachim (86b), in
which Rav Nachman asked Rav Huna, "What is your name?" Rav Huna replied, "Rav
Huna." He then asked him, "Why do you call yourself 'Rav' Huna," to which Rav
Huna answered, "Because that is my name." RABEINU CHANANEL there explains
that by saying, "That is my name," he meant to say that "I have Semichah and
therefore I am entitled to call myself *Rav* Huna."
In light of this, we can understand the story in our Gemara. Rav Anan, who
was a colleague of Rav Nachman (see Chulin 56a) and relative of Rav Nachman
from the family of the Reish Galusa, called Rav Huna, "Huna Chavrin," in
order to emphasize that the Reish Galusa did not recognize Rav Huna's
Semichah. Although Rav Huna tolerated this when Rav Nachman, his contemporary
Torah giant, referred to him in such a manner, he did not stand for Rav Anan
calling him "Huna Chavrin." Rav Huna, in order to prove that he was deserving
of respect whether or not they recognized his Semichah, answered with
riddles, effectively showing them that his level of scholarship was even
greater than theirs.
We indeed find that Rav Huna spoke in riddles with Rav Nachman in Berachos
(47b), where Rav Huna told Rav Nachman that "nine people and 'Aron' are
considered a Minyan [of ten]." Rav Nachman asked, "How can an Aron count as
[the tenth for] a Minyan? An Aron is not a person!" Rav Huna replied that
what he meant was that nine people, who are crowded together as a group so
that they look like there are ten people, are considered a Minyan. When he
said "nine people and Aron," he was speaking in disguised terms, and he meant
"nine people and *Echad Ro'eh v'Eino Nir'eh* (the One Who sees but cannot be
seen, or Hashem's presence)," the first letters of which spell out the
acronym, "Aron." He was saying that nine people, together with Hashem, count
as a Minyan (Divrei Eliyahu to Berachos 47b, see also Kol Eliyahu #186).
Here, in our Gemara as well, Rav Huna spoke in disguised terms, also using an
acronym in his message. The second "Anan" in his statement is an acronym for
"Isur Nechasim Nigvis" -- "the tenth of the [father's] property is
collected," and he was saying, "Anan, Isur Nechasim Nigvis (is the tenth of
the property collected) from Karka or from Metaltelim?"
In his second statement, in which he asked who sits at the head of the meal
of an Avel, Rav Huna was telling Rav Anan that although one with the Reish
Galusa's Semichah might have certain privileges over a "Chaver," there are
certain situations in which a "Chaver" like Rav Huna certainly deserves more
respect that Rav Anan, even though Rav Anan has Semichah from the Reish
Galusa. That situation would be where they are seated together at a meal,
like the Gemara says in Bava Basra (120b). The Gemara there says that when
the Chachamim are seated together in a discussion of Halachah, the "Chacham"
(which might mean who has Semichah) sits at the head, but when sitting at a
meal, the Zaken (the oldest person) sits at the head. Someone who is an
extremely wise Chacham sits at the head even at a meal. Rav Huna was not only
older than Rav Anan, but he was exceptionally wise (as the Gemara in Moed
Katan 28a says). Rav Huna was saying that "even you, Rav Anan, must agree
that I deserve more respect in certain situations, such as at a meal, because
I am older and because of my superior wisdom." (Rav Huna mentioned the house
of an Avel because the verse that discusses an Avel serves as the source for
how we are to sit at a meal.)