This is part of a series of questions on the Gemara in Bechoros 8b-9a. Below is a summary of the relevant parts of the Gemara. After being challenged by Caesar, R' Yehoshua went to Athens to defeat the Athenian Elders in a battle of wits.

In the process of their debate, the Elders challenged R' Yehoshua to build a house in midair. R' Yehoshua said the Shem of Hashem and began levitating. "Bring me some bricks and mortar," he said, "and I'll do it."

Why was R' Yehoshua permitted to say the Name of Hashem just for the sake of proving to the Elders that it's possible to build something in midair?

  • Do we know if the Elders were simply asking if someone could build a house in midair? Perhaps it was much deeper than that, maybe something related to Hashem being Master of the Universe? Since we weren't there, it's hard to tell from the simple text alone. – ezra Aug 17 '16 at 21:43
  • The lashon of the Gemara is בני לן ביתא באוירא דעלמא, "build for us a house in the air of the world." Maybe one could bring a proof from the fact that it doesn't just say "in the air" that it's referring to something deeper? Most of the questions in the series are trying to prove that the Gemara can't be taken at face value and are looking for what that deeper meaning is. – DonielF Aug 17 '16 at 21:47
  • I think most things in the Gemoro can be understood better when looked at in a deeper understanding. Of course, I think it is better to assume it is all literal. – ezra Aug 17 '16 at 22:35
  • Explained in judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/75527/… – sabbahillel Aug 19 '16 at 2:58
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/75527/… describes the deeper meaning and what it showed. – sabbahillel Aug 19 '16 at 10:13

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