Saturday, April 29, 2006

Yerushalmi Terumot 3:1

The Gemara (Rabbi Binyamin bar Levi) objects to the notion that the rabbis would be arguing about a scientific question that could be resolved by empirical investigation. The implication is that their knowledge is based on scientific investigation, not kabbalah misinai (see the context in which Ramban quotes this Gemara in his commentary to (Bavli) Chullin 42a):

ירושלמי תרומות ג, א (ירושלים: ז. ברמן, תשנ"ה); ז"ל

תני בשם ר' יוסי אין לך מר בקישות אלא תוכו כיצד הוא עושה מוסיף על החיצון שלה ותורם ר' בנימין בר לוי בעי דבר שאפשר לך לעמוד עליו חכמים חלוקין עליו אלא על עיקר בדיקתה חלוקין.  עכ"ל

It was taught in the name of Rabbi Yose, "The only bitter part of the cucumber is its interior.  What should [the person separating tithes] do?  [He should] add to its exterior and tithe."  Rabbi Binyamin bar Levi asked, "Would sages be arguing about a matter that can be ascertained?  Rather, they are arguing about the investigation itself."  [Translation by HWMNBN.  Note that I have left this translation quite literal, keeping explanatory insertions to a minimum, since interpretations of the passage vary considerably.]

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