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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 asked R' Yehoshua to bring a kli not worth the damage it causes. He brought a mattress. Seeing it was too big to fit through the door, he asked that they should bring a pickaxe to widen the door.

If the Elders had asked this question here, it would probably be closed as being too broad. I can think of dozens of possible examples of ordinary household items they would have had back then not worth the damage they could cause - inkwells spilling all over expensive scrolls, glass shards getting stuck in people's feet, etc. So why did R' Yehoshua pick specifically a mattress getting stuck in a doorway?

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  • To verify those stories you should find them in Greek sources. I seriously doubt that. But you probably look for a metaphorical explanation - Maarsh"a for example?
    – Al Berko
    Apr 1, 2019 at 18:44
  • @Al You’re not the first to suggest looking at the Maharsha, I just haven’t worked on the sugya in a while to see what he says. I’m perfectly fine with a metaphorical interpretation.
    – DonielF
    Apr 1, 2019 at 22:49

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