Sunday, September 30, 2012

Berachot 61: Counsel of the Kidneys; Common Descent

Regarding the counsel of the kidneys, see this parshablog post and this post at Rationalist Judaism. I think it was intended literally.

There is a gemara on daf 61 which suggests the idea of common descent:
Our Rabbis taught: Once the wicked Government14  issued a decree forbidding the Jews to study and practise the Torah. Pappus b. Judah came and found R. Akiba publicly bringing gatherings together and occupying himself with the Torah. He said to him: Akiba, are you not afraid of the Government? He replied: I will explain to you with a parable. A fox was once walking alongside of a river, and he saw fishes going in swarms from one place to another. He said to them: From what are you fleeing? They replied: From the nets cast for us by men. He said to them: Would you like to come up on to the dry land so that you and I can live together in the way that my ancestors lived with your ancestors? They replied...
and so on and so forth. Note the bolded portion. The fox says to the fish that his ancestors used to live with their ancestors. We could even say that they used to live together in the water, before the ancestors of the fox emerged from the ocean.

Or not. How would you interpret this?


  1. the fox is a liar and this is part of his lie yet he is so convincing that the fish doesn't think hey! when did our ancestors live together

  2. possible. i think the import is on the nimshal level more than on the mashal level. that is, ain mayim ele torah, and our ancestors lived together on dry land before mattan torah...