Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metzia 59b #1

 

תלמוד בבלי, בבא מציעא נט:

Original Text:

חזר ואמר להם: אם הלכה כמותי - מן השמים יוכיחו. יצאתה בת קול ואמרה: מה לכם אצל רבי אליעזר שהלכה כמותו בכל מקום! עמד רבי יהושע על רגליו ואמר: לא בשמים היא. - מאי (דברים ל') לא בשמים היא? - אמר רבי ירמיה: שכבר נתנה תורה מהר סיני, אין אנו משגיחין בבת קול, שכבר כתבת בהר סיני בתורה (שמות כ"ג) אחרי רבים להטת. - אשכחיה רבי נתן לאליהו, אמר ליה: מאי עביד קודשא בריך הוא בההיא שעתא? - אמר ליה: קא חייך ואמר נצחוני בני, נצחוני בני.

Translation:

Rabbi Eliezer now cried out: “If the law is to be construed in the way I have argued, then let God prove it!” And, in fact, a Heavenly Voice was heard proclaiming: “What do you want from Rabbi Eliezer? Don’t you know that in all matters of law the decision is in accordance with his opinion?” At that, Rabbi Joshua jumped to his feet and shouted: “It is not in the heavens!” (Deuteronomy 30:12) What did he mean by that quotation from Deuteronomy? Rabbi Jeremiah explained: “The Torah had already been revealed at Mount Sinai. We, therefore, need not be concerned with further Heavenly Voices. After all, the Sinaitic Torah itself contains the principle that, in legal matters, the vote of the majority is decisive” (Exodus 23:2, in the rabbinic interpretation). Later, when Rabbi Nathan met the Prophet Elijah, he asked the Prophet: “What did the Holy One, praised be God, do at that hour?” Elijah replied: “God smiled and said: ‘My children have prevailed against me! My children have prevailed against me!’”
[Soncino translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Why didn't Rabbi Joshua want to acknowledge that Rabbi Eliezer's opinion was correct?
2. When is it important to be accurate and when it is important to make decisions that are best for the community?

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