Chulin 90 - Exaggerations and Hyperbole

Rabbi Chiya bar Yosef said, "The prohibition of sciatic sinew applies only to sacrifices that are eaten, but not, for example, to a burnt offering." Rabbi Yochanan disagreed.

Rav Pappa said that they don't really argue. Rabbi Chiya is talking about the the sinew not removed from the thigh, and then there is no prohibition to burn it, whereas Rabbi Yochanan is discussing a case where the sinew was already removed, and then it is prohibited to burn it.

Rav Nachman bar Yitzhak said that they do disagree. According to Rabbi Yochanan, the complete thigh is brought to the Altar - because it would be unseemly to bring it cut - but then the sinew is removed and thrown onto the mound at the center of the Altar, which also contained ashes.

At times, the mound had 300 kor (4,000 cubic feet) of ashes on it. Rava said, "That is an exaggeration." Other examples of exaggerations, according to Rava, are that they gave a lamb to drink from a golden cup, or that 300 kohanim were needed to purify the Temple curtain in a mikva. The Torah itself uses hyperbole when it said, " large cities fortified to the heavens ."

Art: Thomas George Cooper - A ewe with lambs in a coastal landscape