Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lions and Tigers and Bears

T.B. Chullin 59b:
Caesar once said to Rabbi Yoshua ben Chananja "This God of yours is compared to a lion as it is written (Amos iii 8) 'The lion hath roared who will not fear?' Wherein consists his excellency? A horseman kills a lion." The Rabbi replied "He is not compared to an ordinary lion but to a lion of the forest Ilaei." "Show me that lion at once," said the Emperor. "But thou canst not behold him," said the Rabbi.
Still the Emperor insisted on seeing the lion so the Rabbi prayed to God to help him in his perplexity. His prayer was heard; the lion came forth from his lair and roared, upon which, though it was four hundred miles away, all the walls of Rome trembled and fell to the ground. Approaching three hundred miles nearer he roared again and this time the teeth of the people dropped out of their mouths and the Emperor fell from his throne quaking. "Alas! Rabbi, pray to thy God that He order the lion back to his abode in the forest!"

This is quite difficult to understand within the framework of modern science.


Blogger BrooklynWolf said...

Are you sure this gemara is meant to be taken 100% literally? It doesn't sound like it to me, based on the excerpt. What was the context?

The Wolf

December 02, 2008 10:50 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


This post is just a bit of a vent/rant. There is a post on Hirhurim about whether the Gemara about a dead man's lips moving in his grave is intended to be interpreted literally or figuratively. He quotes some acharonim who say that it is literal and then makes a statement how "quite difficult to understand within the framework of modern science." Which doesn't make sense to me at all. Say that you hold the chazal are infallible. The chazal never said that all their words have to be interpreted as literal. So why does a person like Gil, who is ostensibly MO need to agonize about what some acharon chose to interpret as literal 500 years ago? And it just struck me as so odd to choose this particular gemara to pick apart when half the talmud is filled with stories like this.

I know I should just take a deep breath and think about rainbows, but I can't seem to get it out of my mind.

December 02, 2008 11:06 AM  

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