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Follow up on midrash- literal or not- question

Rabbi Ari ShvatTevet 2, 5780
29
Question
Hello Rabbi. Thank you for your previous reply! I read online that the story of Abraham and the Idol Shop is a story invented by Rabbi Hiyya in the second century (AD). The article also stated that this midrash was not meant to be taken as a historical event, but rather as a story to be used to teach lessons. What are your thoughts on these claims? Is there any proof that Rabbi Hiyya is the creator of this midrash?
Answer
R. Chiya is in fact the first one who appears as saying or quoting this midrash. Nevertheless, the first appearance of a midrash in writing doesn't prove that it wasn't around beforehand as an oral tradition. Nobody, including the author of the article you quoted, can know who "invented" the midrash, or whether it was invented at all or passed down traditionally. Often authors (like the one you quoted), express their feelings or theories as facts (perhaps in order to be seen as knowledgable), and the innocent readers don't know what to take as fact or theory. If this is true about a current article, how much more so is it difficult to ascertain regarding midrashim of almost 2,000 years ago. But again, it's not that important whether the midrash is historically factual, but the bottom line is what can and should we learn from it.
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