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Sunday is Sun-Day
This Sunday is Sun-Day - the day that Daf Yomi reaches the famous page of Gemara recording the dispute between the Sages of Israel and the non-Jewish scholars regarding where the sun goes at night. The Sages of Israel thought that it doubles back and passes behind the sky, which they related to their understanding of various Scriptural verses. The non-Jews said (correctly) that it passes on the other side of the world. And Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi concedes that the non-Jews appear to be correct.
Every single Gaon and Rishon, and many Acharonim, agree that this is indeed an argument about where the sun goes at night. And the majority of Gaonim and Rishonim, as well as many Acharonim, understand the Gemara as saying that the Sages of Israel were indeed mistaken (other Rishonim say that the sun does indeed go behind the sky at night). No other topic better demonstrates the validity of the rationalist approach to Chazal and science. No other topic better demonstrates that the charedi Gedolim, who condemned this approach as being heresy, are either out of touch with the history of rabbinic thought in these areas, or are deliberately rewriting it.
While I completely goofed up in not focusing on this topic at the time of the ban on my books, I've since researched it in great detail. My monograph The Sun's Path At Night has been available for a while, but I'd like to take this opportunity to also release a different publication, which contains much of the same material, but presented in a significantly different way. It's my thesis that I used to enter the doctoral program at Bar-Ilan. Rather than simply list all the different views on the topic, it presents them in historical context, showing that the change in attitudes to this topic began in the sixteenth century, and exploring the reasons for this. You can download it at this link.
I hope that you enjoy these publications, and please share them with others - especially those who are under the misconception that normative Jewish thought regards Chazal as having been divinely inspired in their understanding of the universe. Perhaps readers could print a few copies and put them out in shul, especially for those studying Daf Yomi. Chag sameach!