After a discussion I had with my brother about the nature of Torah study (is it merely an intellectual exercise or something more?) I started wondering about the following issue after he quoted a relevant point related to Tisha be’Av, which was yesterday and is the day commemorating the destruction of both temples, among other events. Many are aware of the famous statement in B. Nedarim 81a that the first temple was destroyed because the people did not recite the blessing required before studying Torah. This point was taken up and featured heavily in the work of many commentators on the Talmud and legal scholars, e.g. Rabbeinu Yonah, Ran and Shulchan Aruch.
To be more precise, in the above text the famous dictum is stated by Rabbi Yehudah in Rav’s name with respect to the verses in Jeremiah 9: 11-13.
9. I will take up weeping and wailing for the mountains, and a lamentation for the dwellings of the wilderness, because they are withered and without any one passing through, and the lowing of the cattle is not heard; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast have fled and are gone.
With regard to how my question relates to Ritva and Ran, here are the relevant quotes from Ritva and Ran regarding what happened at Sinai.
Ritva: BT Eruvin 13b. Translation is from Rosensweig (1992).
When Moshe ascended to receive the Torah, it was demonstrated to him that every matter was subject to forty-nine lenient and forty-nine stringent approaches. When he queried about this, God responded that the scholars of each generation were given the authority to decide among these perspectives in order to establish the normative halakha
Ran: Derashot Haran, Derush 7.
But this matter requires investigation. How can we say that [the views of] two groups of disputants were told to Moshe by the Almighty? … How can we say that something untrue left the mouth of God? But this is the [correct] account: It is well known that the entire Torah, written and oral, was given to Moshe at Sinai, as it says in BT Megila (19b) ‘R. Hiya bar Abba said in the name of R. Yohanan: What does the verse mean “And on them as all the words…”? This teaches that the Almighty showed Moshe dikduke Torah and dikduke Soferim…’ Dikduke Soferim are the disputes and differing rationales among the Sages of Israel, and all of them Moshe learned from the mouth of the Almighty without a decision [one way or the other]…since the [authority to make a] decision was given over to the sages of each generation…and we are enjoined to follow their decision, whether they have arrived at the truth or its opposite…whatever they decide, that is what God has commanded.