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I've already asked one question about where Rashi got a particularly troubling interpretation of an obscure reference in the Gemara, telling a very detailed and gruesome story about R' Meir and his wife Beruriah.

In another instance (Bab. Sanhedrin 39a) Rashi expands in great detail upon a vague reference in the Gemara in which R' Yohanan says he knows of only three of the 300 parables about foxes taught by R' Meir to expound on Pesukim. R"Y gives a very short list, referring to the lessons by key phrases in their associated verses, and then Rashi tells us the story R"Y is referring to. But he doesn't just tell us a name for the story ("The Fox, the Wolf, and the Well") or give a watered down version of it ("A fox tricks a wolf into a well by showing him the moon's reflection down there and telling him it's cheese"). No. Rashi, who usually writes very curtly about simple concepts to aid the reader in understanding the basic meaning of a passage in the Gemara, goes into full-on story-teller mode, for 4 long lines and 10+ short lines, using almost 1/4 of the real estate on the "Rashi side" of the printed Vilna edition of the Gemara.

Where do these amazing stories come from in Rashi? Does he have a source? Were they taught orally by his teacher's teacher's teacher's teacher's teacher (however many times), dating all the way back to R' Meir? Are they (usually, generally, occasionally??) recorded elsewhere in works that are traceable/accountable?

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I like the question, but it's a little vague which parts or Rashi's commentary you seek a source for. Any long Rashi? Any story in Rashi? Are there that many instances of this that we can't just ask about each story individually? – Double AA May 30 '13 at 19:35
@DoubleAA I am interested in the instances where Rashi feels compelled to fill in the blanks - very large gaping holes, apparently - with lengthy history or parable. I do not know how many instances of this there are. – Seth J May 30 '13 at 20:11
perhaps this is related: This sefer is a collection of stories by Rabbeinu Nissin Gaon, and the Title page says it includes stories that Rashi brings on the Talmud. I haven't read it, so I am unclear whether this is the source of Rashi's stories, or if Rashi's stories are collected in this sefer: hebrewbooks.org/46759 – Menachem Jul 11 '13 at 1:54
@Menachem, at first glance, this appears to be a useful reference. Thank you. – Seth J Jan 26 '14 at 17:44
I don't think that this counts as an answer, but it depends on the story: different stories came from different places – Matt May 26 '14 at 3:47

Perhaps he is quoting material that is not from the Bavli where one version appeared, but rather extra-Talmud Bavli material like the Yerushalmi, Tosefta, The Pesiqtas, or other random midrashim, where stories can vary sometimes from their Bavli counterpart.

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If the Bruyah story was in the Yerushalmi, someone would have noticed it by now. – Double AA May 30 '13 at 19:34
@DoubleAA obviously the Beruria story is not in any Gemara, but this particular case (of the fox parable) may indeed come from an earlier version or Geonic extrapolation: faculty.biu.ac.il/~barilm/aesopfra.html – Matt May 26 '14 at 6:17

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