Jewish Lightning Rod: Between Magic and Science

Jewish Lightning Rod: Between Magic and Science

Olman, Arye

Lechaim, September (2008), pp. 39-43


Apparently, it is these ideas about stones which can defer thunderstorm, protect against hail and rescue from lightning in a magical way, which were popular in the Muslim East during the Middle Ages, that arrived to western boundaries of the populated universe. Rabenu Bahye, a student of Spanish rabbis, also knew about them. Therefore, as in his opinion the properties of stones could not have changed since the Confusion of tongues, he provided information which he considered to be obtained from experience and trustworthy, as a confirmation of his views on the purpose of the Babel Tower.

“And they said: let us build a city and a tower with its head up to the sky; and let us make a namefor ourselves so that we are not scattered over the face of the earth”. This is how the story of Babel Tower started. Midrashes and numerous comments were dedicated to it, great artists pictured it ontheir works. But why did people of the Confusion generation start this absurd project? What do thewords “make a name for ourselves” mean?

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