August 29th, 2012

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That Whole Oven of Achnai Thing

OK, this is long and rambly but it gets things out of my system. "The Oven of Achnai" is one of the more famous stories of the Talmud, especially as everyone can use it to prove whatever they want. For those not familiar, this involves a question over whether a particular oven can acquire ritual impurity. A debate ensues between R' Eliezer ben Harkanus and the other Rabbis. R' Eliezer appeals to various means of Divine support, but these arguments are rejected as well on the principle that "it [the law] is not in Heaven." This result apparently pleases God, who is reported to have laughed and said: "My children have defeated me."

However, the story does not stop there. For a reason wholly unexplained in the text, the Rabbis decide to burn everything R' Eliezer declared pure and excommunicate him. Hijinks ensue. You can read a translation here.

I warn in advance however that part of the problem with translations is they make this look like a more coherent narrative than is supported by the text.

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Getting Ready for Trial By Fire This Weekend

I am hoping to get to an actual non-Pennsic SCA event this weekend, Trial By Fire in Bright Hills. It has a bardic competition and a poetry competition on the theme of "Trial By Fire." I need a period piece and an original piece (of which the poem for the poetry competition can count).

Sticking with my personal theme of "Bible Stories that kick ass!" I considered the following stories. Although I know what I want to do, I'm curious what other people would have recommended. I include midrash in "Bible story." So I have created this poll:

Poll #1863190 What Bible Story Should I Tell At Trial By Fire?

Which of the following should I tell on the theme of "trial by fire"

Abraham and Nimrod
Judah and Tamar
Nadav and Avihu
Elijah on Mt Carmel
Shadrach, Mishach and Abednigo