Can you tell me what Rashi is describing when he writes that "There are places in the ocean that aren't compatible with iron"?
chaim katz, montreal canada
I understood Rashi to mean that there are places in which it is not advisable to travel with iron nails, due to magnetic forces in the area. Rav Bagad (Yeshivat Nechalim) connects it to the Bermuda triangle mysteries...
Thanks very much, but there has to be another explanation? Bermuda Triangle mysteries are a bunch of baloney, (see even wikipedia) (even though the explanation you quoted is found on many frum web-sites (and in the rshash?). Anyway I was thinking that maybe iron nails won't work because of rust...
I just found this on the internet: (see 'dhow' in wikipedia)
"The idea of a boat made up of planks sewn together seems strange. Actually, it is a type that has been in wide use in many parts of the world and in some places still is. In the Indian Ocean, it dominated the waters right up to the fifteenth century, when the arrival of the Portuguese opened the area to European methods. A Greek sea captain or merchant who wrote in the first century AD reports the use of small sewn boats off Zanzibar and off the southern coast of Arabia. Marco Polo saw sewn boats at Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. He took a dim view of them: "they were twine and with it stitch the planks of the ship together. It keeps well and is not corroded by sea-water but it will not stand well in a storm." (Marco Polo, Book I, ch xviii, translated by H. Yule, 3rd edition, London, 1903, I, p.108)"
Thanks very much,
Chaim, Montreal, Canada
I am not sure what is bothering you Chaim. It makes no difference whether or not the Bermuda triangle is "baloney." If it fooled so many people in recent times, similar rumors, be they hoaxes or not, might have prompted the use of ropes instead of nails in ancient times.
The Rashash indeed uses magnetic forces to explain Rashi's intention. It is possible, though, that Rashi was referring to particularly saline waters, or waters saturated with another mineral, that caused iron nails to corrode and fail prematurely - as Marco Polo alluded in your citation.