The tractate Horayot, one of the shortest tractates in the Talmud, discusses the laws governing the various sacrifices brought by people who accidentally transgressed certain Torah prohibitions. The tractate begins with the laws of a High Court that issued an erroneous ruling permitting that which is really forbidden (hence the name Horayot, "rulings"). In such a circumstance, the High Court – and not the individuals who acted upon the erroneous judgment – brings a communal sacrifice.

The tractate then discusses the sacrifices brought by an individual transgressor. As specified in the Book of Leviticus, the species and gender of the animal offering depends on the nature of the sin as well as the position of the sinner: an average person brings one type, the High Priest another, and the monarch yet another.

This leads to a wider conversation regarding various "types" of people, and which leadership qualities are most valuable.

Rabbi Yochanan said: Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel and the Sages disagreed regarding who is preferable. One party maintained that a "Sinai" (i.e., someone who is proficient in an organized fashion in all of the Oral Law, as it was transmitted to Moses at Mt. Sinai) is preferable; the other party held that an "up-rooter of mountains" (i.e., one who is keen-minded and possesses analytical abilities—though he may not be proficient in all areas of the Oral Law) is superior.

Rabbi Yosef was a Sinai; his Babylonian contemporary Rabbah was an up-rooter of mountains. An enquiry was sent to the Israeli sages: "Which is preferable [to assume leadership], the Sinai or the up-rooter of mountains?" The response arrived: "The Sinai takes precedence, because all are dependent on the wheat owners" (i.e., someone who can readily provide sustenance; in this instance, the one who is more proficient in Torah law).

Nevertheless, Rabbi Yosef did not accept the mantle of leadership. Rabbah ruled for twenty-two years, and only after his passing did Rabbi Yosef assume leadership. For the entire term of Rabbah's leadership, even a blood-letter did not enter Rabbi Yosef's home.

Various explanations offered by the Talmudic commentaries as to why no blood-letter came to Rabbi Yosef's home:

1. Only respected personages would summon a blood-letter for a house call. All others would go themselves to the blood-letter.

2. Rabbi Yosef was so devoted to Rabbah that he spent all day in the study hall under Rabbah's tutelage, and therefore had no time for blood-letting.

3. Rabbah deeply respected (and was indebted to) Rabbi Yosef, and saw to it that all his needs were tended to. When Rabbi Yosef would need a blood-letter, Rabbah would take care of it and it was done in Rabbah's residence.

4. Because of his tremendous humility, Rabbi Yosef was rewarded that throughout Rabbah's tenure of leadership – which was rightfully Rabbi's Yosef's – no one in Rabbi Yosef's household fell ill, and no blood-letter was ever needed.

Abaye, Rava, Rabbi Zeira and Rabbah bar Matnah once sat together, and there was a need to appoint a "head," i.e., someone to lead the Torah discussion that would ensue. This was problematic considering that they all were notable Torah scholars. So they agreed that whosoever would make a Torah statement which could not be refuted shall become head. The statements of all of them were refuted, but that of Abaye was not. When Rava saw that Abaye held up his head, he called out to him: "Nachmani [this was Abaye's given name]! Open the discussion and say something."

The question was asked: Between Rabbi Zeira and Rabbah bar Matnah, which is the superior? R. Zeira was keen-minded and possessed the ability to raise questions as well as resolve them, but wasn't as capable in the area of arriving at final conclusions. Rabbah bar Matnah, on the other hand, wasn't as quick and sharp-minded, but was able to arrive at halachic conclusions.

This question remains unresolved.