I am wondering, in the light of discussions regarding the possibility for non-literal readings of Bereishit, how we are to then understand a quite literal observation of Shabbat on the 7th day.

To clarify, what I am asking is how one might justify the literal practice of Shabbat at a specific point in time if one interprets creation as not literally taking 7 days.

The discussions I am referring to are these: Is there any precedent to read the first 11 chapters of Genesis as metaphorical? Bereishit vs. science Why the vast difference of opinion about the age of the Universe?

  • Rem Dav Nan, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing your question here! I think it's essentially the same question as Age of Universe and Shabbat, so I've voted to mark it as a duplicate. It's valuable for us to have the same question expressed in different ways, so that people who search the internet for this question using various terms are more likely to find the answers provided here.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jul 6, 2015 at 20:13
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  • Thank you both very much. Indeed, I had missed this question in my search. The answer below is concise and helpful, so hopefully will also add to the discourse. Jul 6, 2015 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


Even assuming the 7 days are symbolic/conceptual as opposed to literal does not mean that their commemoration cannot be with a literal 7th day. Indeed, if one loses track of the days of the week (e.g. at sea) he keeps every seventh day anyway. (There are many mitzvot where something concrete represents something conceptual, e.g. teffilin, sukka, korbanot, etc.)

  • Ah yes, good point about other mitzvot. That situates the whole practice more clearly for me, whether the 7 days are literal or not. Was not aware of the idea that one should continue counting even in the event of losing track of time. I'd be interested to read more about that. Jul 6, 2015 at 23:03

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