Friday, June 10, 2005

A holiday question

‘And they stood beneath the Mountain (Mt. Sinai - Exodus 19:17)” Rav Avdemi bar Hama bar Hassa said, ‘From this we learn that the Holy One Blessed be He forced the mountain above them like a barrel. He said to them, If you will accept the Torah, that is good; but if not, there will be your grave-sites...” (B.T. Shabbat 88a).

Is there anyone in the readerhsip who takes this story literally?

(1) Moved the post people seem to care about to the top of the line.
(2) In the comments Mirty asked *the* classic question on this Midrash. Any answers?
(3) The five familiar approaches apply to understanding this aggadah. They are:
* It's a metaphor
* Chazal were right. Any contrary evidence (like my own experiences) are wrong.
* The teva changed
* Chazal are right, and my eyes are right, but I misunderstood chazal
* Chazal were wrong.

For this particular aggada, I choose metaphor. There's no reason to doubt the midrash, but there's no reason to take it literally, so the tie should go to the more rational answer.