Friday, November 20, 2009

Rivkah, just big for her age!

Last week, on parshat Chayei Sarah, I came up with a creative interpretation that involved a Rashi on parshat Toledot. And just to be clear that I was joking, I labeled my interpretation ridiculous. Subsequently, I discovered that Maharal takes a similar suggestion quite seriously. And so, I thought that it might be appropriate to explain just how I differ in my approach to Rashi and midrash from Maharal. For since such derashot are well within his methodology, he can suggest things seriously, while since I take a different approach, I could not. This is not to impugn Maharal, chas veshalom. Rather, it is to evaluate differing methodologies and to appreciate even what I would not say as a sort of neo-midrashic effort.

Ridiculousness is subjective, and thus makes a poor measure
One must be very careful, IMHO, before declaring some midrashic interpretation, or some interpretation of midrash, "ridiculous". This assessment might easily be the result of a different world-view, or the result of reading our own expectations into the midrash or interpretation. For example, there is the midrash of Pharaoh's daughter stretching out her arm to get baby Moshe. The word in the text in amatah, and there is a dispute in Chazal whether it means her arm, which she stretched forth, or her maidservant, whom she sent forth. Only one works with the particular vocalized text, but that vocalization is a minor matter of a dagesh, and might have even come into play after this midrashic dispute (with apologies to Rashi). Meanwhile, there is an additional twist, based on a third meaning of amah, namely cubit. Thus, she stretched forth her hand, and it miraculously extended many cubits until it reached Moshe.

Now, I can readily see an allegorical interpretation in this, having to do with hishtadlus and doing the most you can, with Hashem providing the rest; or else emphasizing the Divine Hand in all of this, where otherwise it might appear as mere happenstance.

However, I would not be driven to this interpretation merely because the idea of her hand stretching out is "ridiculous". One might ask, "what is she, Mr. Fantastic?!" One might ask what her reaction would be to have her hand stretch out like this. But just because you or I might ask it, this doesn't mean that e.g. a great commentator of an earlier era, e.g. Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi, would ask this. And it doesn't mean Rashi would ask this. And it doesn't mean that the midrashic author would ask this, or consider this a valid objection. As someone from a quasi-Modern Orthodox background, we marvel at contemporary frum people who believe literally and historically that Moshe Rabbenu was 10 cubits tall. Yet if contemporary chareidim can believe it, and they include some very smart people, then how can we firmly state that the midrashic author also did not maintain this? This is something subject to intellectual climate. And so to surmise that Moshe being 10 cubits tall was allegorical, just on the basis of its seeming impossibility, seems to me to be quite dangerous and speculative. And surmising that "obviously" they did not think that Pharaoh's daughter's hand stretched out literally similarly strikes me as rather speculative. Instead, if there are aspects of the midrash that cry out that they are allegory, fine. Otherwise, the conservative position that Chazal really meant it should be considered a strong possibility. Again, IMHO.

It could be that she didn't even realize it as her hand stretched out -- as if in a dream. Or she did, and that led her to surmise even more that this was of one of the Hebrew slaves. Or the midrashist imagined a Biblical world where miracles were much more common, such that it might not have phased her.

So it is not (or not only) that certain things I see in Gur Aryeh seem rather implausible. Instead, it has to do with what is a valid question, what is a valid answer, and whether things should be harmonized, even against the seeming plain meaning of the text, and with surprising detailed which are so surprising that they should have been mentioned by the midrash.

Peshat in derash, and the surprising unmentioned detail
I want to digress for a moment to discuss Ibn Ezra and miracles. It is true that he tries to adapt many miracles to work within derech hateva, to the extent possible. But still, he does not deny explicit Biblical miracles. Miracles mentioned in midrash are another story. One prominent example that comes to mind is Yocheved's age when she bears Moshe. One midrash has her born as Yaakov and his children enter into Egypt. This resolves an irregularity in the pesukim, especially in terms of the number of 70 souls entering Egypt. However, if this were so, then by simple calculation she would need to be 130 when Moshe is born. And Ibn Ezra objects that:

יש אומר:
כי מספר שבעים, בעבור שהוא סך חשבון כי שישים ותשע היו. וזה המפרש טעה, בעבור שמצאנו כל נפש בניו ובנותיו שלשים ושלש. והם שלשים ושתים ובדרש, כי יוכבד נולדה בין החומות, גם זה תמה למה לא הזכיר הכתוב הפלא שנעשה עמה שהולדת משה והיא בת ק"ל שנה?! ולמה הזכיר דבר שרה שהיתה בת תשעים!
ולא די לנו זה הצער עד שעשו פייטנים פיוטים ביום שמחת תורה. יוכבד אמי אחרי התנחמי והיא בת ר"נ שנה וכי אחיה חי כך וכך שנים דרך אגדה או דברי יחיד.

That is, the Torah makes such a big deal about Sarah's advanced age when she gave birth, such that it is miraculous. If Yocheved had given birth at an even greater age, would the Torah have omitted it?!

One can answer this in terms of midrash on the Torah, perhaps, though I sympathize with the sentiment. One can answer that the Torah did tell us, but by hinting, for of course there was an expectation that the Torah would be darshened precisely as it was.

But in terms of midrash rather than Biblical text, I would ask the same question. Whether or not a question on a midrash or contradiction between midrashim is valid, if the answer is so surprising that it almost overwhelms the midrash itself, then why didn't the midrash provide this piece of information itself.

For example, a midrash states that 318 who went with Avraham was only Eliezer. A late supercommentator of Rashi is troubled by ain mikra yotzei miydei peshuto and so claims that really they started out at 318 and then because of the Biblical rules of bridegrooms, sinners, etc., returning from the battlefield, all those 318 melted away until only Eliezer was lost. This is a wonderful and creative resolution of the contradiction, if a resolution was indeed ever needed. But it is just so colorful! If Rashi really meant it, and if the midrash really meant this, then how come they never mentioned this vivid and inspirational detail? Why did they leave it unsaid and undetected until some late Acharon was troubled by this problem and innovated this one colorful solution out of a possible dozen solutions? The ikkar is chaser from the sefer. This is important enough to mention in the midrashic text or in the text of Rashi, much as Yocheved's giving birth at 130 would have been important enough to mention in the Biblical text.

So it is not really a measure of "ridiculousness", but rather of added somewhat surprising detail, such that we should really expect the midrash to mention it. One might be able to respond that such added detail was not deemed so important to Chazal, or to Rashi, to explicitly state. But I think that in many cases this is just not so.

The validity of the question
Often, the cause for the drastic reinterpretation of midrash or Rashi is a troubling question. But often enough, the question itself is of debatable validity. It might rely on particular assumptions which are not necessarily so. For example, in the case mentioned above, about Eliezer being 318. The question which prompted various suggestions by Rashi's supercommentators is that we know that ain mikra yotzei midei peshuto, and yet the verse itself says that 318 men went. So how can we say it was just Eliezer?

The answer might be, as I suggested at the time, that Chazal did not necessarily apply ain mikra in such a situation. And that Rashi's concern in citing ain mikra is to allow a novel peshat interpretation, not to restrict a midrashic interpretation and reject it because it does not allow for the peshat to coexist. Or what is supported by Ibn Ezra's words, it is possible that Rashi (and perhaps Chazal as well) maintains that Elizer == 318 is the peshat on the pasuk. If any of these three are true, then there is no question. And if there is no question, yet the answer drastically restructures the meaning of the midrashic narrative, then we are moving away from a correct understanding of the midrash. I believe one should be hesitant, and careful, in this, and in this way strive for peshat in the derash.

The value in mistaken interpretations, if indeed they are mistaken
One understanding of elu veElu I learned from one of my rabbeim is that of course it is not so that both X and Y are true, but rather both X and Y are Torah, and one gets sechar for learning both X and Y.

Similarly, even if I come to the conclusion that the methodology of several of Rashi's supercommentators is incorrect, and will not lead to a true understanding of Rashi and midrash, I can still consider their efforts valuable. And I can study the matter of how they studied it, and perhaps gain all sorts of insights (textual, ethical, halachic) from their words. And it is valuable because it is how righteous and intelligent people who were trying to find the truth in the meaning of Rashi and midrash engaged with Rashi and midrash. (On the other hand, those nowadays who believe they are saying nonsense and falsehood, and don't care, but make it into a positive, are another story; I wonder if coming up with nonsense one knows to be nonsense is indeed Talmud Torah, or is rather bittul Torah. Maybe it is, because they think innovating nonsense is Talmud Torah, and this is their shitta.) Even if I disagree with Mizrachi or Gur Aryeh, who cares? First of all, this is just me who thinks this. And second of all, even if it is not Rashi or Chazal's midrash, it can be late-midrash.

A practical example, all about Rivkah Imeinu
All this came up because of my own innovative peshat, which I discovered was echoed in similar form in the Maharal of Prague's Gur Aryeh commentary on Rashi. I would like to show how I disagree on methodological grounds with Gur Aryeh, and later explain why I deemed my own peshat ridiculous, when I said it.

Rashi on parshat Toledot declares that Rivkah was three years old when she married Yitzchak. Thus:

forty years old: For when Abraham came from Mount Moriah, he was informed that Rebecca had been born. Isaac was then thirty-seven years old, for at that time Sarah died, and from the time that Isaac was born until the “Binding” [of Isaac], when Sarah died, were thirty-seven years, for she was ninety years old when Isaac was born, and one hundred and twenty-seven when she died, as it is stated (above 23:1): “The life of Sarah was [a hundred and twenty seven years.”] This makes Isaac thirty-seven years old, and at that time, Rebecca was born. He waited for her until she would be fit for marital relations-three years-and then married her. — [From Gen. Rabbah 57:1;
בן ארבעים שנה: שהרי כשבא אברהם מהר המוריה נתבשר שנולדה רבקה, ויצחק היה בן שלשים ושבע שנה, שהרי בו בפרק מתה שרה, ומשנולד יצחק עד העקידה שמתה שרה שלושים ושבע שנה, ובת תשעים היתה כשנולד יצחק, ובת מאה עשרים ושבע כשמתה, שנאמר (כג א) ויהיו חיי שרה וגו', הרי ליצחק שלושים ושבע שנים ובו בפרק נולדה רבקה, המתין לה עד שתהא ראויה לביאה שלש שנים ונשאה:

The midrash, and Rashi's concern, might easily be to make the chronology work out. Or there might be deeper messages in this midrash, as I discuss in this other parshablog post. But this causes problems in two areas. First, in Chayei Sarah, when Eliezer goes to fetch Rivkah, she is described as a naarah. And secondly, why speak of her virginity? For one under three, Chazal maintain that the hymen restores itself, so of course she would be a virgin? And so how could Rashi darshen the pasuk there as he does?

Addressing the first question first. The pasuk there in Chayei Sarah states about Rivkah {Bereishit 24}:

טז וְהַנַּעֲרָ, טֹבַת מַרְאֶה מְאֹד--בְּתוּלָה, וְאִישׁ לֹא יְדָעָהּ; וַתֵּרֶד הָעַיְנָה, וַתְּמַלֵּא כַדָּהּ וַתָּעַל.16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her; and she went down to the fountain, and filled her pitcher, and came up.

How could a 3 year old Rivkah be a naarah, when a naarah is technically, according to halacha, about 12 years old? And if the pasuk says she was a naarah, how could Rashi offer a midrash that she was three?

Gur Aryeh asks and answers:
בת ג׳ וכו׳ והא דכתיב בקרא נערה
דמשמע נערה היתה ולא תקרא בת ג׳ נערה
ויש לומר דהיו אבריה וגדול שלה כנערה
כמו שאמרו ז״ל קולו כנער והיו אבריה גדולים
כמו נערה
Now, I admit thinking this a bit ridiculous. (My first point.) The very idea, to state that Rivkah was a gigantic toddler, and looked like she was 12! This would not be a maylah; it would be a chisaron. Of course, my assessment may be off. If Maharal could think this plausible and serious, and those who learn him could as well, then perhaps Chazal also thought this, and were not perturbed by Rivkah the oversized toddler.

Gur Aryeh points to a place Chazal answered up a similar issue. Baby Moshe in the basket in the Nile was called a naar. But surely he was a mere infant!? Answers Rashi, on the basis of a gemara in Sotah:

and behold, he was a weeping lad: [Even though he was an infant] his voice was like that of a lad. [From Sotah 12b]
והנה נער בכה: קולו כנער:

Though that might be a derasha where the resolution is on the verb bocheh, that it was as if a naar was bocheh.

I would point to another relevant midrash, and Rashi. In II Melachim 5:2:
2. Now the Arameans went out in bands and captured from the land of Israel a young girl, who ministered to Naaman's wife.
The Hebrew is naarah ketanah. But if she is a naarah, how can she be a ketanah? And if she is a ketanah, how can she be a naarah? Rashi answers, on the basis of a gemara in Chullin 5a, that it is:

a young girl: Heb. naarah ketannah, a young girl from the town of Naaran.

So naarah is a woman from Naaran, and she was a ketana. There, it was resolvable in a different way, by clever reinterpretation of naarah. But I doubt that one can say that Rivkah came from Naaran!

Now, this might well demonstrate a trend, in which Chazal and Rashi are concerned about designations of naar and naarah which could not accord with the halachic definitions. Perhaps. But at the same time, Chazal and Rashi spoke up in these instances. And yet they were silent about Rivkah being designated a naarah. (This is then my second point, the midrashic silence.) If they are stating that she was a three-year old, wouldn't the explicit contrary pasuk bother them? And if so, if the surprising answer was that Rivkah was an enormous toddler, don't you think Chazal or Rashi would have seen fit to mention it explicitly?

(Now on to my third point.) But is the question really so valid? The assumption is that naarah must mean someone approximately 12. But this is a halachic assumption, and is true in a halachic setting. This does not mean that every time naar appears in a narrative setting, it must mean this! Indeed, putting aside the midrash for a moment, the simple peshat in sefer Melachim is that the naarah ketanah was "a young girl". And that Moshe the infant can still be roughly described as a naar, a lad. The term has a wider range than its precise halachic meaning.

And so too, by Rivkah, she was a young girl. And so a three year old could be called a naarah.

Midrash is often the hyper-literal reading, which entails a narrow focus on the text under discussion, sometimes at the expense of immediate or distant context. If so, Rashi's concern could easily have been to resolve the chronology, or to make the point (as in the linked to article) about Divine Providence. And so the distance reference to Rivkah as naarah was not on Rashi, or the midrash's radar. And if pressed on the issue, they could say that they don't want to darshen it in this instance, but would take it kipshuto.

If so, the question is not a question. And if there is no question, the surprising reinterpretation of the pasuk in a way Rashi and midrash never mentioned might be taking us further away from Chazal's intent. Even so, it might make for good neo-midrash.

A second "contradiction" pointed out by Gur Aryeh relates to Rivkah's virginity, and Rashi's declaration that she was a virgin. On the pasuk (above) in Chayei Sarah, Rashi writes:

a virgin: from the place of her virginity. — [Gen. Rabbah 60:5]
בתולה: ממקום בתולים:
and no man had been intimate with her: in an unnatural way. Since the daughters of the gentiles would preserve their virginity but were promiscuous in unnatural ways, Scripture attests that she was completely innocent. — [Gen. Rabbah ad loc.]
ואיש לא ידעה: שלא כדרכה, לפי שבנות הגוים היו משמרות מקום בתוליהן ומפקירות עצמן ממקום אחר, העיד על זו שנקיה מכל:

And Gur Aryeh has what to say in both parshas Toldos and Chayei Sarah. In parshat Chayei Sarah:
בתולה ממקום בתולים וכו׳ וא״ת והלא פחותה מבת ג׳ היית׳ ובתוליה חוזרין ולמה היה צריך לעדות זה ואפשר לומר דהמתין אברהם ג ׳שנים מזמן הבשורה דלא ידע באיזה יום נולדה רבקה ולא נולדה רבקה ביום הבשורה וכאשר שלח את אליעזד עבדו כבר היה לה ג׳ שנים אע״ג דלקמן פי׳ רש״י דרבקה היתה,בת ג׳ שנים כל שלא הגיעו לד׳ שנים נקראה ג׳ שנים

And in parshat Toldot:
ומה שהעיד הכתוב עליה שהיית׳ בתולה ואיש לא ידעה אף על גב דפחות׳ מג׳ ודאי בתולה היא אין זה קשיא כמו שנתבאר לעיל פרשת חיי שרה עיין שם
Thus, he asks why Rashi, and the midrash, would even bother to say this. For the hymen would grow back, if she had intercourse before three years and a day. And so why should the Torah testify to this, if she was just three that day? And his suggested answer is that Avraham only counted from the time he was informed, and was unaware of her actual birthdate. Therefore, he counted from that time and on. And she would still be reckoned a three-year old, since she was not yet four. And had she had intercourse in the intervening period, she would not be a virgin.

I admit that when I thought of such an idea myself, I considered this consideration somewhat silly. I'll expand on this when I discuss my own suggestion. But silliness is not a good measure of plausibility of intent.

Would Rashi or the midrash have mentioned this, that the betulim were chozer? This might have been an obvious answer to them, such that they wouldn't have mentioned it. Yet the topic itself is somewhat "surprising", so I would have slightly expected them to reference it. (In terms of midrashim, rather than Rashi particularly, it is also possible that the midrash about virginity from the mekom betulim was from a different position than the midrash about her age. Though the "problem" might even be with the Biblical text (as implied in Gur Aryeh on Toldos), rather that with Rashi in particular (which might conceivably be deduced by reading Gur Aryeh on Chayei Sarah).

But then, the besulim being chozer was not the answer. The answer was that she wasn't precisely three, on the dot. Rather, she was perhaps a few weeks or months after her birthday. This is not so surprising, and I could readily see this minor detail being omitted by both midrash and Rashi. On the other hand, Rashi did say (in Toledot):
המתין לה עד שתהא ראויה לביאה שלש שנים ונשאה:
such that the idea is of Yitzchak marrying her at the earliest possibility. This idea of waiting a bit more goes against this idea. Such that one needs to innovate this lack of knowledge of the precise birthdate. Again, it is not such a surprising detail, but still is an innovation. Gur Aryeh can respond to me that the idea of betulim returning is true and thus historical, and that she was three years old was true and historical, so regardless of any irregularity, there must be a harmonization which allows both to be true.

What about the question, though? Is the question convincing? I am not convinced that technical virginity was Rashi's concern. See what he says, based on midrash Rabba:

Rashi writes:

a virgin: from the place of her virginity. — [Gen. Rabbah 60:5]
בתולה: ממקום בתולים:
and no man had been intimate with her: in an unnatural way. Since the daughters of the gentiles would preserve their virginity but were promiscuous in unnatural ways, Scripture attests that she was completely innocent. — [Gen. Rabbah ad loc.]
ואיש לא ידעה: שלא כדרכה, לפי שבנות הגוים היו משמרות מקום בתוליהן ומפקירות עצמן ממקום אחר, העיד על זו שנקיה מכל:

Now, admittedly midrash Rabba there discusses mukat etz. But the general theme is about Rivkah's righteousness, in terms of gemilut chassadim, the water rising to her, etc. I am nowhere near convinced that Resh Lakish and Rabbi Yochanan (in the midrash) were even thinking of precisely a three-year Rivkah. Or that the midrash about Avraham being informed of Rivkah's birth was necessarily imagining that the birth was right then; or that even if so, that they made the same derashot of betulah veIsh lo yedaah. Maybe these two midrashim were never intended to agree with one another. On the other hand, in terms of Rashi, he does bring both down. But since Rashi did not innovate these midrashim, it is not clear to me that he felt some need for them to be harmonized. The work on the meaning of the duplicate virginity was already done by the midrash, and Rashi was citing it for a particular purpose. (And harmonizing when midrashim should not be harmonized takes us away from either midrash's intent.)

From Rashi's perspective, he is talking about Rivkah's righteousness, and the pasuk is speaking about Rivkah's righteousness. And this does not have to do with technical presence of betulim. There is a duplication, which means that not only did Rivkah not willfully engage in intercourse in the normal way, kedarkah, she also did not do so in a shelo kedarka manner. (Admittedly, the midrashic reason Rashi cites for typical engaging in the shelo kedarka assumes that one would tear the hymen in the kedarka manner.)

So I am not really persuaded that Rashi would be overly perturbed by this issue, such that he had it in mind. Rather, to sum up:

Gur Aryeh indeed found a difficult contradiction between these two midrashim. While the betulim being chozerim is not necessarily in the forefront of one's mind, it seems quite plausible that those who darshen betulah veIsh lo yedaah were thinking of a naarah, which after all is what is written in that same pasuk. So the question is good and the answer, about three years not being precise, is not over-surprising.

However, I am not truly convinced that this harmonization was in the mind of either the midrashic authors, or Rashi. From the perspective of each midrashic author, this might indeed be a dispute, just as we see disputes about Rivkah's age among the Rishonim. From the perspective of Rashi, he did not necessarily think about this weird and arcane medical fact about the hymens of three year old girls (which I am not at all convinced is actually true, though that is irrelevant). While Gur Aryeh is very sharp to think of it, if Rashi did not think about it, this would not be surprising in the least. Rather, in each place, he cited the midrash for a particular reason (perhaps even a thematic one, such as predestination and Rivkah's righteousness). Since pashut peshat in the midrash, according to Rashi's presentation in Toldos, is that Yitzchak married her at the first opportunity it was halachically possible, the suggestion otherwise, on the basis of purported lack of knowledge on Avraham's part, is a slight stretch. And so I would prefer the midrash to mean what it seems to mean, even if this entails having technically contradictory midrashim.

I agree and disagree with the methodology of certain of Rashi's supercommentators to different degrees, depending on the particular features of the supercommentary in question. But while I would consider learning many of these supercommentaries to be Talmud Torah, I am not really convinced that most of the time we are really learning the midrash, or learning the Rashi. Rather, Rashi is a springboard for new ideas about harmonizing midrashim, where in many cases the contradictions are not contradictions and the resolutions are

Why I regarded my own suggestion as ridiculous
My own suggestion, which I regarded as silly, was an attempt to explain the duplication of language when describing Rivkah: she was a virgin, and no man "knew" her. I suggested that since we know she was three and the hymen regenerates, "virgin" was insufficient. And so the Torah added that no man knew her, to make it clear that it was because of virtue rather than peculiarities of anatomy.

A large part of why I regarded my own suggestion as ridiculous was that I know myself and my methodology, such that I would not really suggest my creative interpretation other than as a joke. Perhaps I would be serious if I were trying to suggest a derash, but not as peshat.

As peshat, I already consider the three-year-old theory as more than suspect. And I already explained how Ibn Caspi seemed correct that the duplication was just reinforcement of the matter, a type of kefel hainyan bemilim shonot. And the regeneration theory is likely not accurate science. And even if it is true, I don't think that on a peshat level the Torah was concerned with this sort of technical precision. I had disagreed with the pashtanim, Rashi, Rashbam, and Ibn Ezra, about this sort of thing, and so to take this arcane factoid about three-year olds and use it to explain why the Torah felt it necessary to duplicate an idea seems a bit off.

Even as derash: While we can take this factoid as true, and thus make the duplication meaningful, it is an idea which comes out of left field. I enjoy derashot in which some strange feature is parsed and reinterpreted in another way, such that new details come out. For example, when I suggested that acharei belosi haysa li edna vaadoni zaken means that Sarah says that after she mixed (bila) the flour with the oil, she saw blood of nidda (edna), so she knows she can give birth; yet her husband is old! Wonderful! But here, the details don't really come from the derasha in the pasuk. Rather, it is harmonization which comes from snatching non-local ideas which themselves were darshened, but in the present instance have no bearing, and mixing them together to make a new creation. Even if the Torah does understand her to be three, who says that this particular random anatomical fact would have been a concern, such that the Torah would go out of its way to address it?

Which is why I suggested it as a joke, and as an extreme version of what I merely disagreed with in the suggestions of the medieval pashtanim.


Anonymous said...

If you like The Mahral check out Rav Shwab on The Machlokes if she was 3 like Rashi or 14 like Tosfos in Yebamos.
He says it was BOTH there was Ibur Nishamah!! Meaning Physicaly she was 14 years old, But at the end of Parshas Vayerah when Sarah passed away, Rashi says that time after the Akiedah Rivkah was born. The idea that Rivkah was born is that she had an Ibur Nishmah so at this point THERE WAS IBUR HANESHAMAH meaning this weeks parsha 3 year old is TAKING ABOUT the Neshamah with both aspects ONE, the old soul and THE new SOUL (this is the most Chassidishe yekki torH I EVER HEARD).

Shmendrik said...

I think Chareidim don't really believe that Moshe was 10 amos tall. Yes, they'll claim that virtually all maamarei chazal have to be taken literally, including the one about Moshe's height, but none of them actually picture Moshe as 15 feet tall when they think about him, just like they don't really believe that Esther was a green-skinned 75 year old.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. good points.

obviously, i wonder whether Tosafot or Rashi would agree to this harmonization. rashi would be more difficult than Tosafot.

in terms of really believing it, i don't know. i'm not sure i didn't, when younger and was not exposed to all sorts of different ideas. (and see here, towards the end; he might easily picture Moshe Rabbenu in this way.) though even if they don't believe it, i'm sure i could find midrashim where we have different reactions to the plausibility and seeming ridiculousness; and that i similarly maintain things others would find ridiculous...

shabbat shalom

Anonymous said...

B the wa I said it over to somone he said there is a sefer called Toras M(i)echal says it was Sarah neshamah that was the Ibur hence when she came into the tent all the miracles started happening again


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