January 01, 2009

Rabbi Eliezer argued with his fellow sages over a point of law. He knew he was right, but his fellow sages refused to accept it. He brought forward all the proof he could find, but they would not accept it from him.

Then he said to them, "If the law agree with me, let this carob tree prove it." At once the carob tree was torn one hundred cubits from its place. Yet his fellow sages said to him, "No proof can be brought from a carob tree."

Then he said to them, "If the law agree with me, let this stream of water prove it." At once the stream began to flow backward. Yet his fellow sages said to him, "No proof can be brought from water."

Then he said to them, "If the law agree with me, let the walls of this house of study prove it." At once the walls of the house of study leaned over, as though they were about to fall; but Rabbi Joshua cried out, saying, "Is it a concern of yours if learned men argue with one another about the law?" So out of respect for him the walls did not fall, but neither did they straighten, and to this day they stand leaning over.

Rabbi Eliezer still knew he was right, so he said to his fellow sages, "If the law agree with me, let heaven itself prove it." At once a Divine Voice spoke:
Why do you argue with Rabbi Eliezer? In all matters the law agrees with him.
But Rabbi Joshua stood up and said, "It is not in heaven." The Torah has been given to mankind, and now it lives and must be interpreted in the hearts of men.

And God laughed: "My children have defeated Me!" My children have taken responsibility for their own interpretations. My children have grown up.

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