More Discussions for this daf
1. A Ger amongst the Goyim 2. shogeg 3. Munbaz
4. Munbaz's opinion and Rebbi Akiva's opinion 5. A Convert Unaware of the Existence of Shabbos 6. תינוק שנשבה

Barry Epstein asked:

The question came up as to who Munbaz was and how he can argue with Rabbi Akiva. In the Artscroll Niddah I, daf 11a, note 6, their are 2 opinions.

Rashi says he was a Hasmonean king and the son of Queen Helene.

The Maharsha, however, cites a midrash that said he was a gentile king who converted to Judaism.

Thus, we have 2 different opinions (the use of "however" implies the 2 can't be reconciled).

The question still at large is how he can argue with Rabbi Akiva and what status he has. It doesn't seem like he is a Tanna yet that is all that can generally argue with Rabbi Akiva. One can say a king can argue with anyone but we don't see a lot of king-Tanna arguments in the Gemara.

Barry Epstein, Dallas, TX 75252

The Kollel replies:

According to the historians, none of the Hasmonean kings had a son called Munbaz, which lends credence to the Medrash cited by the Maharsha (and corroborated by the Seider ha'Doros). I'm not so sure however (oops), that Rashi didn't mean that too (in spite of your use of the word 'however').

In any event, what makes a Tana? Do you think that every Tana walked around with a tag on his jacket? Any Talmid-Chacham could argue with his contemporaries, and there is no reason why Munbaz (whom the Gemara describes as a Tzadik) should not argue with Rebbi Akiva, or with any other Tana, for that matter.

As a matter of fact, there is no hard and fast rule forbidding an Acharon to disagree with a Rishon. Once the Mishnah was completed, subsequent generations (Amora'im) could no longer argue with Tana'im, and the same applies to the generations (the Rabanan Sevura'i and later eras) that followed the completion of Shas. But after that, it is accepted that the Acharonim were/are not on a level to argue with the Rishonim, but there is no hard and fast rule forbidding it (which explains why there are numerous cases where they do in fact do so).

E. Chrysler

Joe S Goldstein comments:

Just an addition to your comment "As a matter of fact, there is no hard and fast rule forbidding an Acharon to disagree with a Rishon."

Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg ZAL (The second Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel) said that although there there is no hard and fast rule forbidding an Acharon to disagree with a Rishon, However, not just anyone may do so! One must either be a godol with solid proofs and a massive amount of humility which precludes any Haughtiness and thoughts of "I can argue on him" from entering into his thought process. Otherwise who would want to be so foolish as to even entertain the thought that one can argue on a Rishon.

While we do have Gedolim that argued on Rishonim, Such as the Vilna Goan and very few others, I am not aware of any contemporary GODOL that argued on the Rishonim.

Having said this I saw in a sefer recently (and I can not remember who wrote it, but it is not contemporary author) that said while it is true we can not argue on a rishon, but the Torah lnds itself to many interpretations and as such one may give a different interpetaion of a posuk, as long as it does not change any halacha AND it fits within accepted Jewish Hashkofa.

The Kollel replies:

Thank you for your valid comments, which is really what I had in mind when I wrote "there is no hard and fast rule" (rather than "it is permitted"), and the reason that I did not elaborate was purely a matter of time. I seem to recall having seen what I wrote in the Aruch ha'Shulchan, many years ago.

The Chazon Ish often disputed the Rishonim, and as for your final comment, virtually every commentary on the Chumash argues with Rishonim when it comes to interpreting Pesukim (since, as you wrote, it does not affect the Halachah). R. Kornfeld (Sh'lita) cites a Tos. Yom-Tov in Nazir (5:5), who even justifies the Rambam explaining a Mishnah differently than the Gemara, using the same reasoning.

Kol Tuv

Eliezer Chrysler.

Sam Kosofsky responded:


I am not sure that the Munbaz referred to in our Gemara is the same as the Munbaz who, together with his mother Queen Helena, contributed important things to the Bais Hamikdash. I don't think that Munbaz was a Tanna. He and his mother were gerim. He was not a melech Yisrael. He was king of a country called Adiabene. I think Rabbi Akiva lived most of his life after the churban Bais Hamikdash and he was young when it was destroyed. He didn't become a talmud chacham until after he was 40. It doesn't seem like he would have had this discussion with the Munbaz who was king of Adiabene.

It seems to me that I asked this 7 and 1/2 years ago and you gave me a similar answer.


Sam Kosofsky

The Kollel replies:

You are correct, Sam; we see that you brought this up at the last cycle and Rabbi Kornfeld confirmed what you write above.

According to Seder ha'Doros this is the only instance that the Tana Munbaz is mentioned. And it dawned upon me that King Munbaz must have lived some two hundred years before R. Akiva, ruling out completely the possibility that the Tana was the king.

I apologize for the mistake.

Kol Tuv

Eliezer Chrysler.

Barry Epstein responded:

My Artscroll English gemara on Niddah has a note that says that Rashi holds that King Munbaz was the son of Queen Helene.

The Kollel replies:

The source for the Artscroll note is Rashi to Bava Basra 11a DH Munbaz. Rashi writes that King Munbaz was the son of Hilni "from the children of the Chashmona'im." (Perhaps even if he was a Ger, he had familial ties to the Chashmona'im.)

In Bereishis Raba 46:10 we find that his father was King Ptolemy, a non-Jewish king (and that his mother was righteous, and that his brother also was a convert).

M. Kornfeld

Chaim Mendelson responded:

Rabbi Reuvain Margoliyos, in his work "Lecheker Shemos Vekinuim BeTalmud" (1:28) observes that this mysterious student of Rabbi Akiva is mentioned only once in all of the Talmud. We also know about the King Munbaz who converted to Judaism. He therefore theorizes, that the name Munbaz is actually a pseudonym for an unnamed student, who earned this nickname because he interested himself primarily in questions pertaining to Tinok Shenishbah and Geirim.

The problem with this theory is, that this Munbaz, student of Rabbi Akiva, happens to be mentioned in the Safra (Toras Kohanim Parshat Metzora, Pirkei Nega'im, Parsha 1:4) in the beginning of Parsha Metzora, and also there, is involved in a halachic discussion with R. Akiva. However the discussion there is not one regarding Tinok Shenishbah or Geirim, rather it is a discussion pertaining to the laws of metzora!

We thus observe that Munbaz also was interested in other halachos, and did not interest himself exclusively to the subject of Tinok Shenishbah and Geirim. This therefore leaves Rabbi Margolis's theory with little substance, and leads us back to our quest for more details as to the identity and life of the Tanna Munbaz.

Chaim Mendelson, Yerushalayim

The Kollel replies:

Yasher Koach Reb Chaim for that beautiful insight of Rav R. Margoliyos. (And I see that the Seder ha'Doros does indeed cite the second mention of Munbaz, student of Rebbi Akiva.)

Rav Margoliyos, by the way, cites the Bereishis Raba (46:6), which tells us that the King Munbaz was not only a Ger, but secretly converted in his youth without telling his parents (and may be presumed to have wanted to learn more about Judaism but was unable to, due to the circumstances), making him a Tinok she'Nishbah as well as a Ger.

As for your argument that if he is cited as maintaining a Tanaitic opinion more than once in the Midrash or Talmud it is not appropriate to give him a statement-based nickname, see Rav Margoliyos' introduction (p. 6), where he explains that although you are correct that someone cited frequently cannot be given a nickname based on a single one of his citations, nevertheless it is entirely reasonable to give a Tana or Amora a nickname based on one of his teachings if he is quoted infrequently in Talmudic literature. If so, Munbaz certainly qualifies.

Rav Margoliyos lists 50 such pseudonyms in the above cited Sefer.

(In a reverse twist, not discussed by Rav Margoliyos, it seems that Amora'im who are mentioned many times in Chazal would try to say statements relating to their names so that people should more easily remember that he was the author of the statement - see Eruvin 8b, for example.)

Thank you again,

Mordecai Kornfeld

Rav Mordechai Schwimmer comments:

In a letter to the editors of the Shas Lublin pamphlets (last page of issue # 12), Rav Yitzchok Y. Weiss (Rosh Yeshivath Alexander, Bnei Brak) cites the Chasdei David commentary to the Tosefta (9:4) who states: It is possible that this Munbaz who argues with Rabbi Akiva was Munbaz Hamelech who became a Ger while living among the Nochrim and was seeking a leniency for all the inadvertent transgressions that he committed while living among them (the Nochrim) before he learned Torah.

Rav Weiss, who came up with this idea independently, provides a chronological basis for this possibility.

Although some questions regarding this basis come to mind, nevertheless, we now have a source from over two centuries ago, Rabbi David Pardo, who holds that there is a distinct possibility that this Munbaz was indeed Munbaz Hamelech. (See graphic of Rabbi Weiss's letter, attached.)


Mordechai Schwimmer Brooklyn NY