The Pharisees had passed on to the people certain regulations handed down by previous generations, but not written down in the Law of Moses. For this they were rejected by the Sadducee party.
Mishnah Hagigah 1:8:
Absolution of vows
hover in the air without any support. Laws of the
are like mountains hanging by a hair. They have little Scriptural support, but many halakhot.
purity and impurity and
have much support. They are the essentials of the Torah.
In general, the House of Hillel is more lenient (but there are many exceptions to this rule).
Talmudic legend states that before the fall of Jerusalem he defected to the Roman camp and established an academy (?) at Yavneh (Jamnia).
The discussions at Yavneh are described in considerable detail, including the citation of prooftexts and logical arguments.
Interplay or tension between received tradition and logical argumentation.
Talmudic tradition (Tosefta Eduyyot 1:1) describes how the Rabbis of that generation, fearing that the [Oral] Torah would be forgotten, initiated a collection of the traditions, commencing with the traditions of Shammai and Hillel.
According to H. Albeck, this was the first tractate of the Mishnah. The rest of the Mishnah evolved as an expansion of the material in Eduyyot.
Note that the Rabbinic sources do not see the activities of the Yavnean Rabbis as a response to the historical events, but as an internal evolution in the history of religous scholarship.
Rabbi Ishmael's method was more respectful of the literal meaning of the Biblical text, often making allowances for human quality of the language.
Rabbi Akiva attached signficance to every detail of the text, including particles and extra letters. He was thereby able to produce an extremely flexible vehicle of linking oral traditions to the words of the Torah. Both teachers initiated schools which produced midrashic commentaries on the legal sections of the Pentateuch.
It appears that Rabbi Akiva was involved as well in the organization of traditions according to the "Mishnah" method: by topics, not following the order of the Bible. There is no evidence of such activity among the students of Rabbi Ishmael.
The major component of the Mishnah consists of teachings of the students of Rabbi Akiva, in the generation of "Usha" following the Bar Kokhba revolt and the resultant migrations to from Judea to the Galilee. There is a likelihood that the School of Rabbi Ishmael fled to Babylonia, where their views seem to have exerted an influence upon the traditions that developed there.
A Talmudic tradition identifies anonymous statements in the Mishnah with the teachings of Rabbi Akiva's student Rabbi Meir. This can be corroborated to some extent by internal evidence, though this is true (to a lesser extent apparently) of other students of Rabbi Akiva as well. This has been construed as implying that the Mishnah was based mainly on a preliminary redaction by Rabbi Meir, which was supplemented by material from several of his colleagues. Underlying all these hypothetical Mishnah compendia were the teachings of Rabbi Akiva himself, which are usually taught anonymously.
All ancient traditions credit him with the redaction of the final version of the Mishnah.
Rabbi Judah had studied with all of the important teachers of the "Usha" generation (Rabbi Meir and the other disciples of Rabbi Akiva). and was able to collect their teachings in an authoritative form.
The collection immediately gained acceptance by the Rabbinic communities of Palestine and Babylonia.
Scholars disagree over several key issues regarding Rabbi's objectives in producing the Mishnah:
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