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What was the reason that the Me'or Einayim by Azariah deRossi's was considered problematic and what is its Historical development and signifigance of this book Basicly what was all the fuss about?

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As I understand it:

DeRossi takes a series of statements from the Gemara (generally Aggadic, i.e. non-Halachic ones) and applied the scientific and/or historic knowledge of his time to them; some of the statements worked, and some of them didn't. And some Gemaras "just didn't make sense."

(Now hundreds of years earlier, R' Sharira Gaon of Pumbedisa had already said that the rabbis of the Talmud weren't doctors, and were just recording the medicine of their day.)

Maharal argues strongly that there was incredible wisdom in all portions of the Talmud; many of the confusing Aggadic statements were intended as allegory, or had a hidden meaning; or occasionally, described something in terms of the common science of the day to make a spiritual point; not necessarily that Chazal agreed with that science (let's say for instance Sun going around the Earth), but it made the point to the audience in the year 500. (while not quite the same, if you look at some rabbi's sermons today about "Torah is how you recharge your batteries" or the like, that sermon would look funny 500 years ago, and will probably look funny 500 years from now.)

So Meor Einayim is a somewhat dangerous book -- "here's a bunch of places where the Gemara makes no sense", but it seems that generally the rabbinic response was as follows: The Talmud contains incredible wisdom, and people can miss that if they only read these snippets. Even for these snippets, we can and should find deeper meaning. Rather than ban Meor Einayim, it was strongly refuted ideologically by other works (such as Maharal, where he explained the deeper meaning of one statement after another; if not for DeRossi's challenge, would we have these explanations now?), and/or occasionally limited to those with more maturity and Talmudic background. If you've seen 5000 undeniably wise statements of Chazal and then you come across 20 statements that are difficult, you try to understand the 20. If you've never heard of Chazal before and just read the 20, people can get the wrong idea.

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sun going aroud earth is strange i have heard answers from the Lubavitcher rebbe and people who say it does not say it where is that CHazal? – Chalutzhanal Aug 20 '10 at 15:48
Chalutzhanal, it makes for a simple illustrative example of outdated science, as I've heard it. I don't know the specific Gemaras one way or the other on that one. Probably in Rosh HaShanah. – Shalom Aug 20 '10 at 16:08
anyone with an exact location? – Chalutzhanal Aug 23 '10 at 19:34
@chaluzhahnal I've seen it in the Rambam in Hilchot Deot I believe. – Hacham Gabriel Dec 23 '11 at 5:18

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