Sunday, April 17, 2005

On Silly Geography Questions...

Here's one to put to those who interpret everything Chazal say literally...

When Rashi says (in Parshas Viyigash) that Eretz Yisroel is higher than all other lands, does this mean that the elevation of Eretz Yisroel is higher than the Himilayas?

If they answer in the negative, then they're admitting that (at least the Rishonim) didn't have perfect knowledge of the world. If they answer in the affirmative, you know they might be right... because the lack of oxygen up there has surely done something to their brains.

The Wolf (feeling a little impish today)


TRK said...


I remember hearing once that one of the mefarshim didn't believe that Eretz Yisroel was a real place, rather some alternative ethereal location. Don't remember who said it though.


Anonymous said...

The Maharal explains that since the earth is round, whatever point you assume is the top, is the highest. So we take EY to be that point.

BrooklynWolf said...

Thank you for your response, LM. That works if the Earth is a perfect sphere. Unfortuantely, it's not. (a) It bulges at the equator and (b) it's not perfectly smooth - there are points that are definitely higher than others. The tops of the Himilayas are five miles higher than EY.

In addition, using the Maharal's logic, I could just as easily say that the United States, or Iraq, or even Antarctica is the "highest" point. What makes EY so special then?

The oddity of the whole matter is that the area by the Yam HaMelach (Dead Sea) is, in fact, the LOWEST point (on land) on the planet. I wouldn't be surprised if that's how this all started (in that if one leaves the Dead Sea area, one must go uphill - so it seemed that EY was "higher" than all other lands.)

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

I am well aware that it bulges and is not smooth. Nevertheless, EY if place at the "top", is the highest (ie we are not measuring highest as in length-from the centre).

As to why EY, well it's ארץ הנבחר is it no?

BrooklynWolf said...

Thanks, again, LM for your response.

If you're trying to make a value judgement (that EY is more precious and more special than other lands), then fine, I have no argument there.

But from the original source, it doesn't seem like it's talking about a value judgement but about a physical reality.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Well the Maharal was quite happy to explain the original sourse that way. So I would be too.