When interpreting Biblical passages, some are taken absolutely literally (the Exodus), some are advised not to be taken literally (for example the days of the Creation), and some are commanded not to be accepted word-for-word (like Reuben lying with Bilha). For example, cutting the "thickening of your flesh" is taken literally while cutting the "thickening of your heart" is not.

The question: as of June 2022, for an 18-year-old born-Haredi Yeshiva student, what Biblical stories are required to be accepted as historical, and what assertions are to be taken as scientific facts (for example the firmament, the "waters above", the simultaneous creation of all animals, geocentric approach, and more)?

What are the differences between the Litvakes, Hassidisher, Sefardish, Religious Zionists, and Modern Orthodox yeshivas?

I would like to hear personal testimonies as well as rabbinic sources.


1 Answer 1


Literal and "pshat"/the simple meaning are not the same thing. Sometimes the "pshat" is literal and sometimes it is not literal and in order to know when. "pshat" is literal and when it isn't depends on the context and what Jewish tradition as transmitted through the various commentators says. While I can't comment on what is accepted by those who call themselves modern orthodox for everyone else the meaning of pshat is dictated by tradition as it was handed down to us from Mount Sinia.

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