When is a statement in the Talmud considerd aggadah (and thus not necessarily to be taken litteraly, but rather teaches us a lesson) and when is a statement in the Talmud acctually literal? (i.e that it actually happened).

For example: the talmud in Yevamoth 60b:11 states a seemingly immoral story, can this statement be considerd aggadah or did it acctually happen? And also for example the story of Abraham's ten tests, this is certainly taken litteraly but how do we differentiate?

  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/37652/…
    – Mijmij
    Feb 5, 2023 at 12:35
  • ...if it appears in עין יעקב?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 5, 2023 at 13:25
  • Any rule you find will have exceptions.
    – Double AA
    Feb 5, 2023 at 14:48
  • When I see a story in the sources, I assume it's either factual (conveys information), with or without a lesson; or it's a parable invented to teach a lesson. If I don't see or hear of a lesson, I assume it's factual. Feb 5, 2023 at 19:27
  • This question asks about Gemara, but then continues by bringing incidents that are pretty much explicit in the Written Torah.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 5, 2023 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


To narrowly answer your question: Halacha teaches laws, and Aggada is everything else. The Aggada of the Talmud is collected in the work Ein Yaakov. The author/compiler explains in his introduction that Rabbi Yitzchak Al Fasi had already collected the Halacha into one work. This division is only used in Rabbinic works, not the Bible.

  • Thank you for your answer. Do you know if the statement in Yevamoth 60b:11 is aggadah?
    – Mijmij
    Mar 2, 2023 at 19:10
  • The part about using the tzitz is Aggadah. The killing of the Midianites is historic, and mentioned in Tanach. The understanding of the age of the girls is halachic, as it teaches that a convert under three can marry a kohen.
    – N.T.
    Mar 3, 2023 at 5:36

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