Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Fantastic aggadah

The Jewish Worker writes on the non-literal interpretation of aggadah:

The gemara at the end of berachos (54b) has a bizarre story about Og. The gemara describes how Og had planned to destroy Israel. He planned to uproot a mountain three miles in size, throw it upon them and kill them. The gemara then goes on to describe how Moshe killed Og. I am not the one who calls this wild. The Maharsha comments on this story "זר הוא" that the story is bizarre. The Maharsha then proceeds to quote a Rashba who interpreted the story allegorically and the Maharsha himself offers a differetn allegorical interpretation.

We see from here that we not every statement of Chazal needs to be taken literally.

I would respectfully point out that I don't think we need to hide behind the coattails of the Maharsha and Rashba to take a tale of a giant uprooting a three mile mountain as an allegory.

I understand that JW's point is merely to cite a prooftext for the literalists, but we see from the story itself that not every statement of Chazal needs to be taken literally! People that would require a Maharsha to tell them this are, frankly, setting their brain to "low".

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