One of the scenes referenced in the book is that of the Oven of Aknai. One thing I found interesting was that I had always thought that the actual miracles that occurred (the walls of the Beit Midrash caving in, for instance) had literally happened, but Lehmann cited a different understanding of these events (surely from a different source.) This excerpt I reproduce below.
There was a certain oven- called Achnai's oven- that these Sages differed about. Rabbi Eliezer considered that oven to be like a building, and held the halachic opinion that it was not susceptible to impurity. His colleagues however, considered it to be like an earthenware vessel, and thus they believed that it could become impure. It was a heated discussion, and although Rabbi Eliezer supported his view with a wealth of arguments and proofs, the other Rabbis refused to change their minds. At this point Rabbi Eliezer said, "If my authority is not enough for you, then let 'the Charuv' ('the Carob Tree') decide!"
"The Charuv" was a name which people used for Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa, who was one of the most renowned men of his time. He was so poor that he lived solely off the fruit of his carob tree (carob trees were quite common in Eretz Yisrael). He too had been a disciple of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai. He was a great tzaddik, and God had often answered his prayers in a miraculous manner. So highly esteemed was he that even his teacher, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, once asked him to pray for is son, who was very ill at the time. And God answered his prayer and RAbban Yochanan ben Zakkai's son recovered.
Now Rabbi Eliezer called for him, so that he should voice his opinion on the disputed matter. And the result was that the great and celebrated Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa agreed with Rabbi Eliezer! But Rabbi Eliezer's colleagues still held firmly to their view.
So Rabbi Eliezer said, "If our authority is insufficient, then let 'the Brook' decide!"
"The Brook" was the nickname of Rabbi Elazar ben Arach, one of the most distinguished Sages of his time. His teacher, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, had compared him to a powerful spring that gathers force and turns into a strong, flowing brook. He favored his sayings over those of all his other students. He also said of him, "If all of Israel's Sages were measured in greatness against Elazar ben Arach (even if Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkanos would be counted among them), he would take first place over all of them."
When Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai died, Rabbi Elazar had moved to Emmaus. He expected all his companions to follow him there, but they did not. Then he thought of moving to Yavneh, but his wife, who was very proud of him, felt that it was beneath his dignity to do so if the other scholars had not followed him to Emmaus. Because they remained in Emmaus Rabbi Elazar hadn't participated in the study sessions in Yavneh for many years. Now Rabbi Eliezer called for him, and he too decided like Rabbi Eliezer. But the Sages still refused to accept Rabbi Eliezer's decision.
Rabbi Eliezer then proposed the following challenge: "If you really insist on the rule of the majority, then let 'the walls of the beis midrash decide!"
Who are "the walls of the beis midrash?" They are the pupils (the future teachers), who lend purpose and structure to the house of learning. So the pupils who were present stood up and they too confirmed Rabbi Eliezer's view. In reaction to this, Rabbi Yehoshua told them sharply, "My dear pupils, you are still too young and immature to join this debate!" So they remained silent. They no longer dared to take part in their elders' controversy.
Rabbi Eliezer now stood up and said, "So let it be decided from Above!"
And God accepted his appeal. Without delay He sent the Prophet Eliyahu, who said to the Sages: "Why are you fighting against Rabbi Eliezer? He is always right in his rulings!"
Rabbi Yehoshua stood up and replied, "It says in the Torah: 'The Torah is not in Heaven.' The Torah was given to us by God at Mount Sinai, and in it we find the precept that decisions shall be made according to majority rule!"
Even though I once had this story explained to me (regarding truth and how we derive truth and rules and suchlike, with the Ran and the Maharal), I still don't completely understand it. But I thought it was pretty interesting that the nature in the story (the brook, the carob tree, the walls) are actually titles for people, and symbolic in nature.