Contradictory Midrashim

Q: How do we understand midrashim that contradict one another?
A: There are three possibilities: 1. There are contradictory midrashim because certain facts were forgotten because they occurred a long time ago. For example, there is a dispute regarding the height of the altar in the Temple as to whether it is three amah or ten amah (see Zevachim 58b-59a). The Rambam in the Laws of Shofar (3:2) asked: how could the Jews have forgotten the correct sounds to blow on the Shofar – they blew the shofar every year? It is not a secret – every Jew heard it?! The Rambam answered that it was because of the Exiles and suffering. We experienced so many hardships that we forgot. Someone once asked me: how is it possible to forget because of Exiles and suffering? I said: You are fortunate that you were not in the Holocaust; you therefore do not know how a person can forget on account on what is happening to him. 2. There are midrashim which are not to be understood according to their literal meaning as is explained in Rambam’s introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah. There are midrashim which appear contradictory, but they are to be understood as parables. The Maharal spends much effort explaining them in his works, especially in "Be'er Ha-Golah." 3. It is also possible that there is a dispute if there is an ethical or spiritual value to these facts for the Nation of Israel and for sanctifying Hashem's Name. One midrash says that the fact is unimportant and another midrash says that it is important.