Thursday, July 20, 2006

Boruch She'kivanti

On this comment thread, I asked Happywithhislot:

The Gemara in Brochos 54:b says that Og Melech Habashon picked up a huge stone and threatened to kill all Klal Yisroel. A 'Nes' occurred and some type of bugs ate out the area where his head was........... and then Moshe Rabbeinu killed him.

Happy, do you believe that Klal Yisroel was threatened by Og throwing a huge rock and were saved by a 'Nes'?

Happy promptly responded: "Answer is no. I've definitely seen and heard rishonim who explain away the whole mountain neck thing as a moshol."

I asked him back:

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 218:1 paskens that when one sees "the stone that Og was going to throw at us", he is required to make the Brocha "She'asah Nissim La'vosainu Ba'mokom Zeh" WITH SHEM AND MALCHUS (He must say 'Hashem Elokeinu'.)

How can one make a Brocha on a Nes which never happened??? According to you, isn't it a Brocha Le'vatalah???

I just recently saw that the Maharal in Gur Aryeh brings this proof. Being that the issue of taking Midrashim literaly is so controversial here on J-blogs, I feel it would be worthwhile to quote the actual words of the Maharal.

The Maharal quotes the above mentioned Gemara Brochos 54:b and then says:

ומפני שאמרנו שכל מדרש מדברי חכמים נפרש על אמתתו, צריכין אנו לפרש המאמר הזה על אמתתו. ואם שנמצא מאמר זה, שזה אמר בכה, וזה אמר בכה, אבל דברינו הם דברים ברורים באין ספק. ונראה מדעת רבותינו ז"ל כי כמשמעו היה, שרצה לזרוק אבן שהרי אמרו רז"ל שהרואה את האבן ההיא חייב לברך על הנס שעשה הקדוש ברוך הוא, משמע ומוכח שהקדוש ברוך הוא עשה נס עם ישראל כשהיה רוצה לזרוק אבן

(The following translation is my own)

"And because we have said that all Midrash from the words of the Chachomim we will explain them in its truth, we therefore have to explain this passage in its truth.... And our understanding of our sages is that this passage should be taken as its understood, that indeed he (Og) wanted to throw the stone on them, for Chazal have said that one who sees that stone is obligated to make a blessing on the miracle that HKBH did,


The Maharal is clearly stating that this Midrash should be taken in the literal sense. In the above mentioned Gemara Brochos, the end of this passage is that Moshe Rabbeinu was ten Amos tall, he took his staff which was ten Amos tall, and jumped ten Amos and smote Og and killed him. I don't see any reason to differentiate, that the part about Og picking up the stone should be taken literaly, any more than the part that Moshe was ten Amos tall, when these two Midrashim are in the same paragraph. The Rambam, Ramban, and Abarbanel all have different explanations how Adam Harishon etc literaly lived such long lives. If Adom Harishon lived for 930 years, I don't see any reason why not to believe that Moshe Rabbeinu could have been ten Amos tall.

P.S. The Biur Halacha clarifies the above mentioned Halacha by asking - how is it possible for a human being to have been able to pick up such a large rock? And he answers, because Og was the son of the "Bnai Malachim" and therefore he had superhuman strength. Apparently, the Mishna Brura also understood this Midrash/Halacha literally.


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