Funny Story from Midrash

Written 8 months ago

A story I read recently in a book about the Midrash discussed the Jewish view of the Word of God. It was quite humorous and very plainly demonstrated the necessity of viewing the law from a strictly biblical sense. It is as follows,

On that day, Rabbi Eliezer brought them all sorts of proofs, but they were rejected. Said he to them: "If the law is as I say, may the carob tree prove it." The carob tree was uprooted from its place a distance of 100 cubits. Others say, 400 cubits. Said they to him: "One cannot prove anything from a carob tree."

Said [Rabbi Eliezer] to them: "If the law is as I say, may the aqueduct prove it." The water in the aqueduct began to flow backwards. Said they to him: "One cannot prove anything from an aqueduct."

Said he to them: "If the law is as I say, then may the walls of the house of study prove it." The walls of the house of study began to cave in. Rabbi Joshua rebuked them, "If Torahscholars are debating a point of Jewish law, what are your qualifications to intervene?" The walls did not fall, in deference to Rabbi Joshua, nor did they straighten up, in deference to Rabbi Eliezer. They still stand there at a slant.

Said he to them: "If the law is as I say, may it be proven from heaven!" There then issued a heavenly voice which proclaimed: "What do you want of Rabbi Eliezer — the law is as he says..."

Rabbi Joshua stood on his feet and said: "'The Torah is not in heaven!'" ... We take no notice of heavenly voices, since You, G‑d, have already, at Sinai, written in the Torah to 'follow the majority.'"

Rabbi Nathan subsequently met Elijah the Prophet and asked him: "What did G‑d do at that moment?" [Elijah] replied: "He smiled and said: 'My children have triumphed over Me, My children have triumphed over Me.'"

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