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Rav Hai Gaon, Rav Sherira Gaon, Shmuel Hanagid, Rambam and others all tell us we cannot rely on aggados or take them literally. Where empirically disproven it is certainly unnecessary or even criminal to do so, e.g., Talmudic physiology and medicine. It is also logically impossible, considering that aggados are often mutually contradictory, and there are often several different versions of a story or saying within the literature.

The idea of infallibility "ad chasimas hatalmud" (which one rov told me) is completely 'opgefregt.' Rabbi Yehuda himself uses empirical observation to disprove "our view" in favor of the view of the gentiles, re. where the sun goes at night. His observation, regarding why springs are warm, is incorrect, but the main thing is that he decided based on observation. He would have been the first to deny the existence of a mouse that is half mouse and half earth (Mishna Hullin) if he had ever been to the Nile Delta and observed the rodents there. But since people said it existed at the time, the mishna tells you the halacha.

In other words, it doesn't do the Talmud any favors to insist on asserting the correctness or literalness of its fantastical, humorous, or pseudo-scientific/speculative parts. The Talmud is better off for it.

Hai Gaon, Sherira Gaon, Shmuel Hanagid, Rambam and others all tell us we cannot rely on aggados or take them literally. Where empirically disproven it is certainly unnecessary or even criminal to do so, e.g., Talmudic physiology and medicine. It is also logically impossible, considering that aggados are often mutually contradictory, and there are often several different versions of a story or saying within the literature.

The idea of infallibility "ad chasimas hatalmud" (which one rov told me) is completely 'opgefregt.' Rabbi Yehuda himself uses empirical observation to disprove "our view" in favor of the view of the gentiles, re. where the sun goes at night. His observation, regarding why springs are warm, is incorrect, but the main thing is that he decided based on observation. He would have been the first to deny the existence of a mouse that is half mouse and half earth (Mishna Hullin) if he had ever been to the Nile Delta and observed the rodents there. But since people said it existed at the time, the mishna tells you the halacha.

In other words, it doesn't do the Talmud any favors to insist on asserting the correctness or literalness of its fantastical, humorous, or pseudo-scientific/speculative parts. The Talmud is better off for it.

Rav Hai Gaon, Rav Sherira Gaon, Shmuel Hanagid, Rambam and others all tell us we cannot rely on aggados or take them literally. Where empirically disproven it is certainly unnecessary or even criminal to do so, e.g., Talmudic physiology and medicine. It is also logically impossible, considering that aggados are often mutually contradictory, and there are often several different versions of a story or saying within the literature.

The idea of infallibility "ad chasimas hatalmud" (which one rov told me) is completely 'opgefregt.' Rabbi Yehuda himself uses empirical observation to disprove "our view" in favor of the view of the gentiles, re. where the sun goes at night. His observation, regarding why springs are warm, is incorrect, but the main thing is that he decided based on observation. He would have been the first to deny the existence of a mouse that is half mouse and half earth (Mishna Hullin) if he had ever been to the Nile Delta and observed the rodents there. But since people said it existed at the time, the mishna tells you the halacha.

In other words, it doesn't do the Talmud any favors to insist on asserting the correctness or literalness of its fantastical, humorous, or pseudo-scientific/speculative parts. The Talmud is better off for it.

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Hai Gaon, Sherira Gaon, Shmuel Hanagid, Rambam and others all tell us we cannot rely on aggados or take them literally. Where empirically disproven it is certainly unnecessary or even criminal to do so, e.g., Talmudic physiology and medicine. It is also logically impossible, considering that aggados are often mutually contradictory, and there are often several different versions of a story or saying within the literature.

The idea of infallibility "ad chasimas hatalmud" (which one rov told me) is completely 'opgefregt.' Rabbi Yehuda himself uses empirical observation to disprove "our view" in favor of the view of the gentiles, re. where the sun goes at night. His observation, regarding why springs are warm, is incorrect, but the main thing is that he decided based on observation. He would have been the first to deny the existence of a mouse that is half mouse and half earth (Mishna Hullin) if he had ever been to the Nile Delta and observed the rodents there. But since people said it existed at the time, the mishna tells you the halacha.

In other words, it doesn't do the Talmud any favors to insist on asserting the correctness or literalness of its fantastical, humorous, or pseudo-scientific/speculative parts. The Talmud is better off for it.