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Questions tagged [literalism]

Questions regarding the literal interpretation of Biblical or Rabbinic texts.

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-8
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2answers
81 views

Doesn't the idea of the Tower of Babel prove the Flat Earth approach?

IIRC, the idea was to reach the skies, pass (somehow) the firmament and fight G-d above. That is only possible if G-d is right above the Earth, which suggests the Flat Earth worldview. If they knew ...
4
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1answer
106 views

Copper mining in ancient Israel

The Torah promises [successful] copper mining in Israel's mountains: אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר ... וּמֵהֲרָרֶיהָ תַּחְצֹב נְחֹשֶׁת׃ a land ... from whose hills you can mine copper. (Deut 8.9) I tried to ...
3
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2answers
221 views

Where is Gehenom located?

Where is Gehenom located? After Korach and his followers got swallowed up by the Earth, they fell right outside the gates of Gehenom, and are (presumably) till this day yelling משה אמת ותורתו אמת (...
4
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0answers
66 views

Rashi on Adam and on the Snake cunningness

The snake was able to speak from its creation (Likutei Sichos (10) p. 13) so why is man singled out as being capable of speech (דעה ודבור acc. to Rashi) if the snake already had it?
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1answer
43 views

Why did Moses have a ten-cubit-long axe?

The Talmud in Berachot 54b relates the following tale: אבן שבקש עוג מלך הבשן לזרוק על ישראל גמרא גמירי לה אמר מחנה ישראל כמה הוי תלתא פרסי איזיל ואיעקר טורא בר תלתא פרסי ואישדי עלייהו ואיקטלינהו ...
1
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1answer
138 views

Deceased individuals appearing after death

Inspired by this answer: Are there any documented stories of deceased people appearing after death to live people? [I am not looking for stories where someone dead appeared in a dream] The Gemara in ...
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3answers
198 views

Biblical description of the firmament vs. round earth in the Zohar

Zohar Vaikra 10a [quotes the Book or Rabbi Hamnunab Sabah]: וּבְסִפְרָא דְּרַב הַמְנוּנָא סָבָא, פָּרִישׁ יַתִּיר, דְּהָא כָּל יִשׁוּבָא מִתְגַּלְגְּלָא בְּעִגוּלָא כַּכַּדּוּר, אִלֵּין לְתַתָּא, ...
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2answers
514 views

What causes a person to remain in this world as a ghost?

A baraita on Berakhot 18b relates a story where a pious man sleeps in a cemetery and hears two spirits talking. One of them suggests they wander the world, and the other says she can't because she ...
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2answers
298 views

Do Angels (Still) Keep the Torah?

Both the pious pre-Talmudic Book of Jubilees1 and the Talmudic Gemara2 agree that Angels kept the Torah in Heaven long before it was finally revealed through Moses to the people of Israel.3 My ...
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1answer
116 views

Age of Universe [duplicate]

What is the most plausible way to reconcile the traditional dating of the universe (now 5779) with science's understanding that the universe is billions of years old?
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1answer
44 views

Where is there a rabbinic recipe for milk and honey?

Where is there a rabbinic recipe for milk and honey? Shir HaShirim 4:11 "honey and milk are under your tongue" דְּבַ֤שׁ וְחָלָב֙ תַּ֣חַת לְשׁוֹנֵ֔ךְ From this passage, which to me seems to suggest a ...
1
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1answer
152 views

Should we interpret the Torah literally or allegorically?

I had a question regarding how we should interpret the Torah. Should we interpret it literally, or if not how far can we abstract its teachings, or should we favour a mix of both approaches? I have ...
1
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2answers
81 views

Why does HaShem say, “I rebuke you Satan” in Zech 3:1-2.?

If Satan is obedient to G-d and works under his authority, why did HaShem reprimand him in Zechariah 3:1-2?
4
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1answer
79 views

Do we know of any animals that behave this way? (Bava Basra 16a)

The Gemara in Bava Basra 16a explains certain pesukim in Sefer Iyov to be referring to a conversation between Hashem and Iyov in which Hashem rebukes Iyov for denying or complaining about Hashem's ...
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3answers
164 views

Did Og exist or was he a metaphor?

Did Og exist or was he a metaphor? I am asking this because we did not find any giant bones in the fossil record as to date. It also doesn’t seem to make sense to me since Judaism is the religion of ...
4
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1answer
182 views

Did manna really fall from heaven according to Rambam or Gersonides?

What does the Rambam or Gersonides, who were both rationalists, have to say on the miracle of manna falling from heaven? Did they believe such an event took place?
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2answers
225 views

Does the story of R. Bena'a in the Cave of Macpelah imply that G-d has a physical form?

On Bava Basra 58a it says (from Sefaria): כי מטא למערתא דאדם הראשון יצתה בת קול ואמרה נסתכלת בדמות דיוקני בדיוקני עצמה אל תסתכל הא בעינא לציוני מערתא כמדת החיצונה כך מדת הפנימית ולמ"ד שני בתים זו ...
2
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1answer
112 views

Can Angels “fall”?

According to this answer, the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer (among other works) references an idea that angels "fell" -- were somehow separated from their holiness and "became" human. This answer states ...
1
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1answer
146 views

Moshe's Weapon Against Og

Is there anything particularly special about the weapon Moshe used against Og? The Gemara Brachos (54b) records משה כמה הוה עשר אמות שקיל נרגא בר עשר אמין שוור עשר אמין ומחייה בקרסוליה וקטליה. ...
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2answers
81 views

Does וְאַל-תִּטֹּשׁ, תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ invalidate the Mitzvot-Exemption-for-Women: וללמדו תורה אבל לא האם and ותלמוד תורה and פריה ורביה?

How can Shlomo write in Mishlei 1:8b, וְאַל-תִּטֹּשׁ, תּוֹרַת אִמֶּךָ, "don't abandon the Torah of your mother" if the Mitzvah of teaching one's sons - וללמדו תורה אבל לא האם - and learning Torah -...
3
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0answers
106 views

How tall was Chava?

Rashi here brings a Midrash that Adam Harishon's height was from earth until the Heavens. Based on the Midrash, was Chava that tall as well? Otherwise it would have been quite difficult to be married ...
1
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2answers
169 views

Origin of אין משיבין על ההגדה

What is the original source for the phrase: "אין משיבין על ההגדה" (or: "אין משיבין באגדה", "אין משיבין על דברי אגדה" etc. - which I believe is generally used to mean that it is inappropriate to derive ...
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2answers
122 views

Is there any sect of Judaism that interprets both the written Torah and oral Torah literally [closed]

Is there any sect of Judaism that interprets both the written Torah and oral Torah literally?
2
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0answers
34 views

The moon in the future [duplicate]

We say in Kiddush Levanah, יהי רצון מלפניך...למלאת פגימת הלבנה ולא יהיה בה שום מיעוט May it be Your will...to fill the reduction of the moon, and that there should be no diminishment in it. ...
3
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0answers
150 views

Understanding the Zohar's Anthropomorphism of God

Unlike the Rambam's now-conventional ideas against anthropomorphizing God, there are kabbalistic texts studied today which seem to espouse completely antithetical ideas. I am familiar with the ...
1
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1answer
170 views

The Stones of Yaakov

the gemora in Chulin 91b comments on the pasuk in parsha vayetzei Rabbi Yitzchak said: This tells us that all the stones gathered themselves together into one place and each one said: 'Upon me ...
3
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0answers
99 views

Is the number of Jews killed during the Babylonian exile according to Gittin literally true?

Since the only authoritative sources of information, in this case, seem to be the Jewish Scriptures, can you help understand them? ... in this valley Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard killed ...
2
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3answers
239 views

Is the story of Gan Eden Literally true?

Could it be that the story of Gan Eden, Adam, Hava and the Snake is an allegory meant to teach us lessons but not a recording of an actual event?
4
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2answers
250 views

Must we consider the gemara's conclusions literally true?

I have in mind gemaras such as Yoma 54b, which says, according to the interpretation of one of my rabbis, that the Even haShetiya -- the stone found under what is now the Dome of the Rock -- was the ...
1
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0answers
237 views

How literally are we supposed to read the book of Bereshit/Genesis?

Especially with regard to the family of Abraham. Is there any extra-Biblical historical evidence of a paternal link between the Ishmaelite, Edomite and Keturan tribes and the 12 tribes of Israel? Is ...
0
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1answer
138 views

How was the world created through the even shesiya?

In Yoma 54, it says the world was created with the Even Shesiya (primordial rock). Is this to be taken literally and if yes, do we have details into this process?
8
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5answers
7k views

What is the firmament?

In Genesis 1:6-8 the firmament and its creation are mentioned for the first time: And God said: 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' ...
7
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1answer
179 views

Belief in the Exodus

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 ...
12
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6answers
785 views

Drawing my own conclusions from the Torah

I've always made my own inferences and interpretations from the Torah. Whether it's from a story, a Perashah or something from the Tanach. But I don't know how good/permissible that is. A problem ...
0
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1answer
275 views

Adam and Eve as parable or literal

Was the story of Adam and Eve meant as a parable for the dawn of civilization after human species evolved for millennia or is Adam and Eve to be literally read as the first humans to ever be created.
6
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1answer
152 views

Does Jewish tradition hold the book of Jonah to be depicting historical events?

I recently heard some scholars attempt to date Jonah as a later (and hence fictional) work. Is it correct to assume that traditional Judaism considers Jonah to be a historical and accurate account of ...
6
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0answers
184 views

Which Rishonim viewed maaseh bereishit as an allegory?

I have often heard that many rishonim were comfortable with the idea that at least the first week of creation could be read allegorically, not literally. What are the specific sources that support ...
2
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1answer
213 views

Is the Leviatan real?

I've heard that he is a giant fish that will be eaten by the tzadikim when the Messiah arrives. But I've also read that it may be just a metaphor. If it is real, what about the Behemoth and the Ziz? ...
0
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2answers
117 views

Does it matter if one takes Torah stories literally/physically?

For example, angels cried into Yitzchak's eyes when he was about to be sacrificed. However, it is usually agreed this is to be taken literally (i.e. angels did exist and their tears did fall into his ...
3
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1answer
178 views

Are there any sources that translate the term “a land flowing with milk and honey”, as being literal rather than a metaphor?

The first usage that I can find that refers to Israel as a "land flowing with milk and honey" in Exodus 3:8: וָאֵרֵ֞ד לְהַצִּיל֣וֹ ׀ מִיַּ֣ד מִצְרַ֗יִם וּֽלְהַעֲלֹתוֹ֮ מִן־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַהִוא֒ אֶל־...
1
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0answers
474 views

Why Pinchas = Eliyahu?

The Midrash says that Pinchas and Eliyahu are the same person. According to most of the Rishonim, I believe, this (as any other Midrash) should not be taken literally. Which are some of the non-...
4
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0answers
53 views

Midrashic non-literalism in the Taz

The Taz writes in his Divrei David (Genesis 1:23) regarding a Midrash: ואין לנו להפקיע דברי חכמים מפשטן "We should not remove words of the Sages from their simple interpretations." Does the Taz ...
2
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1answer
159 views

How might one reconcile a non-literal reading of the timespan of creation with literal 7th day Shabbat observance? [duplicate]

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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
167 views

Why do we bring a sin offering on rosh chodesh, given the midrash about changing the size of the moon?

We bring a sin offering as a 'kapara' for hashem for decreasing the size of the moon. The story goes that the moon said we cant have two 'kings' the same size so I want to be bigger. Hashem says no ...
2
votes
2answers
83 views

How literal is the concept of the Throne of Glory?

I am aware of two other questions asked on this site related to the Throne of Glory, but I have a somewhat different question. The baal haturim, in his commentary to the torah at Bamidbar 2:2-3 ...
3
votes
2answers
178 views

hints from verses that 6 days of creation is not literal

Are there hints in the verses of Genesis that the 6 "days" of creation are not literal, i.e. not 24 hour periods but rather some kind of "era".
20
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2answers
2k views

Does Judaism have a concept of holy text literalism?

Apologies if this is an ignorant, foolish or offensive question. I am not Jewish, and am asking to satisfy my curiosity. Some time ago, on a political forum online, I was discussing religious ...
19
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3answers
2k views

Is belief in Midrashim optional?

The Ramban in Sefer Havikuach (page 32, the bottom of the first column ) asserts with regard to Midrash: מי שיאמין בו טוב. ומי שלא יאמין בו לא יזיק ‏ Whoever believes in it, good, he who ...
7
votes
3answers
550 views

Was Rachav A Harlot (Prostitute)?

It specifically says several times in Yehoshua chapter 2 and chapter 6 that Rachav was a Harlot " וְאֶת רָחָב הַזּוֹנָה". Why is it that it is accepted that she wasn't a harlot but an innkeeper and ...
6
votes
1answer
79 views

Chronology of Shofetim

Where can I find a diagram or timeline showing the chronology of the Shofetim according to different commentators? For example Rashi on Shofetim 11:26, Ralbag nearby and Abarbanel on Shmuel 1 chapter ...