Saturday, April 09, 2005

Non literal interpretation of aggadata

The gemara in Bava Basra 73-74 has some bizarre stories about Rabba bar Bar Chanah. The Gra understood these as parables teaching us important lessons about the yetzer hara. R' Aharon Feldman has a whole book on this The Juggler and the King. Here is 1 story:
Said Rabba barBar Channah: Once I saw a frog that was as big as the city of Hegronia. And how big is the city of Hegronia? Sixty houses. A serperent came and swallowed the frog and then a raven came and swallowed the serpent. It flew up and sat on a tree. Consider how strong that tree was! Said Rav pappa Bar Shmuel: "Had I not been there myself I would never have believed it (Bava Basra 73b).

To understand these stories literally is quite difficult and in fact many (Rashba, Ritva, Maharshal, Maharsha, Gra) understand that these are not to be taken literally. I wonder what the Slifkin banners think about this?

No comments: