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Recently, someone who presents himself as a religious member of Jewish society told me that he feels it doesn't matter if the story of the Exodus actually happened, and can be viewed as a nice meaningful story meant to teach a lesson, not a fact. His exact words were this story is 'Meaningful, Serious, and Significant, but who cares if it actually happened'.

When I disagreed, he stated my opinion was based on a lack of knowledge of opinions concerning what is fundamental to believe in this religion. He dismissed my own literal opinion as an oness due to laziness of finding those said opinions, and told me not to worry about it. This is a seemingly intelligent person who when making a claim of sources, I cannot simply dismiss. However, the weight that our Torah put on the factual nature of this event and the duty incumbent upon us to Hashem based on this event makes it incomprehensible in my eyes to claim this event never took place.

I cannot defend his opinion and I don't intend to, I am just trying to find out if I am missing something. The only leeway might be is turning the story into a non-literal read the way many have done with the first chapter(s) in Bereishis. Both these accounts are tied to Mitzvos of zechira. Both these accounts are fundamentally connected to Shabbos and holidays. Yet only the creation account gets the imaginative treatment in society.

So, are there any mainstream Jewish opinions* stating the Exodus can be viewed as a 'meaningful story'?

*By this I mean a traditionally accepted as a Jewish opinion. I am not posting this to hear biblical criticism, whether or not the critic is Jewish.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio Jan 26 '16 at 20:39
  • So, are there any mainstream Jewish opinions* stating the Exodus can be viewed as a 'meaningful story'? *By this I mean a traditionally accepted as a Jewish opinion. I am not posting this to hear biblical criticism, whether or not the critic is Jewish. Isn't this merely a tautology? – mevaqesh Aug 3 '16 at 3:27
  • Just saw that @DoubleAA raised this issue. Barukh shekivanti. Personally, I think this demonstates the importance of leaving some comments here and not throwing the baby out with the bathwater of an extended discussion. The issue is the basic nature of the question. – mevaqesh Aug 3 '16 at 3:30
  • @mevaqesh I don't think so. It was the best i can come up with after my first version was rejected for a similar reason as you are making. I don't think this language precludes some of the 'more original' Jewish thinkers. But at the same time limits must be set or we'll be getting answers from bible critics. – user6591 Aug 3 '16 at 3:32
  • @mevaqesh perhaps mainstream is the wrong word. If you have a better option, feel free to suggest an edit. – user6591 Aug 3 '16 at 3:36
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So, are there any religious opinions stating the Exodus can be viewed as a 'meaningful story'?

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Deuteronomy 19:16-19 If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.

I would think that any religious opinion that implied doubt of the word of the Lord should be considered a “false witness” and treated accordingly. Even those who “damn with faint praise” such as being willing to acknowledge that the “story” has some residual teaching value.

  • While your opinions are [somewhat] interesting, we don't know you that we should trust your opinions at all. – Double AA Jan 25 '16 at 21:09
  • I do not see how this actually answers the question. – sabbahillel Jan 25 '16 at 23:30

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