QUESTION: The Yerushalmi tells us that Rebbi Elazar hid from before his
rebbi, Rebbi Yochanan, in order not to have to greet him. In defense of his
conduct, Rav Yakov bar Idi said that Rebbi Elazar is acting according to the
practice in Bavel, where, out of deference to his rebbi, a Talmid does not
greet his rebbi.
There seems to be contradictory evidence whether a Talmid should greet his
rebbi or not. The Yerushalmi here implies that a Talmid should *not* greet
his Rebbi. Similarly, the Beraisa in Berachos (27b) says that one who greets
his rebbi causes the Shechinah to be removed from the Jewish people. In a
similar vein, the Gemara in Shabbos (89a) says that Moshe Rabeinu did not
give Shalom to Hashem, because "does a slave greet his master by saying
On the other hand, the Gemara in Bava Kama (73a) discusses the way a Talmid
is supposed to greet his rebbi. According to that Gemara, one *is* supposed
to greet one's rebbi, except that he should modify his greeting accordingly.
Instead of saying "Shalom Alecha," a Talmid greets his rebbi by saying,
"Shalom Alecha *Rebbi*." From there it would seem that there is nothing
wrong with a Talmid greeting his rebbi!
How are these contradictory indications to be resolved?
(a) TOSFOS (Bava Kama 73b) explains that it is prohibited for a Talmid to
greet his rebbi by saying, "Shalom Alecha." It is permitted, though, if he
says, "Shalom Alecha Rebbi." When the Beraisa in Berachos says that one may
not greet his rebbi with "Shalom," it means that he may not greet him
without saying "Shalom Alecha *Rebbi*."
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 242:16) cites the first opinion and says
that a Talmid may greet his rebbi as long as he says "Shalom Alecha Rebbi."
The REMA cites the second opinion (Rabeinu Yonah), that one may not *extend*
a greeting to his rebbi at all.
Moshe Rabeinu did not greet Hashem because Moshe's relationship with Hashem
was not that of a Talmid with his rebbi, but that of a slave with his master
(as the verse says, "Moshe *Eved* Hashem" -- Devarim 34:5). A slave may not
greet his master at all, but a Talmid may greet his rebbi. A slave's fear of
his master is much more intense than that of a Talmid for his rebbi.
When the Yerushalmi here says that Rebbi Elazar did not want to greet Rebbi
Yochanan with "Shalom Alecha Rebbi," it is either because the Yerushalmi
argues with the Bavli and maintains that a Talmid may not even greet his
rebbi with "Shalom Alecha Rebbi" (ROSH in Berachos), or perhaps Rebbi
Elazar's conduct was only a Minhag Chasidus that was practiced in Bavel
(VILNA GAON, in BI'UR HA'GRA and MISHNAS ELIYAHU).
(b) RABEINU YONAH (Berachos 27b) differentiates between *initiating* a
greeting to one's rebbi and *returning* a greeting to one's rebbi. He says
that it is not permitted to initiate a greeting to one's rebbi in any
manner, even with "Shalom Alecha Rebbi." It is only permitted to *return* a
greeting of "Shalom" if his rebbi greets him first. (Rabeinu Yonah's Girsa
in the Beraisa in Berachos, like the Rif's Girsa, did not include the
statement that "*ha'Machzir* Shalom l'Rabo" also causes the Shechinah to
leave Israel.) This explains why Moshe Rabeinu did not greet Hashem with
"Shalom," and this is why Rebbi Elazar did not want to greet his rebbi,
Rebbi Yochanan, with "Shalom."
In Bava Kama, when the Gemara discusses the proper way for a Talmid to greet
his rebbi, it does not mean the way a Talmid should initiate a greeting to
his rebbi, but how he should return a greeting to his rebbi.
(c) TOSFOS (Berachos 27b, second answer) explains that a Talmid is not
permitted to greet his rebbi or to return a greeting to his rebbi. This is
why Moshe Rabeinu did not greet Hashem and why Rebbi Elazar did not greet
his rebbi. A *Talmid Chaver*, though, is permitted to greet his master, and
the Gemara in Bava Kama that discussed a Talmid greeting his rebbi is
referring to a Talmid Chaver. (Although a Talmid Chaver is not *required* to
say "Shalom Alecha *Rebbi*" and he may simply say "Shalom Alecha,"
nevertheless it is Midas Chasidus, the preferable mode of conduct, for him
to say "Shalom Alecha *Rebbi*.")
The BI'UR HA'GRA there sides with the Shulchan Aruch. He writes that it was
only the custom of the people in Bavel (like Rebbi Elazar in our Sugya) to
act with Minhag Chasidus and not greet one's rebbi, but that was not the
accepted practice elsewhere. That is why Rebbi Yochanan objected to Rebbi
Elazar's conduct and maintained that his Talmid should have greeted him.
(Perhaps the REMA cites the second opinion, because the Minhag of Bavel is
the source for most Minhagim practiced outside of Eretz Yisrael [see OC
117:1, Mishnah Berurah 117:5, regarding "v'Sen Tal u'Matar"]. The Shulchan
Aruch, on the other hand, rules in accordance with the Minhag of Eretz
Yisrael. -M. Kornfeld)