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There is dispute among the commentators as to whether or not Ramban meant that seriously or just said it for the debate. R. Yaakov Kamanetzky z"l writes (Emet L'yaakov Genesis 44:18) that Ramban just said it for the sake of the debate. The Chattam Sofer (Orach Chaim 1:16) understands that Ramban was expressing a serious belief, but limited his view to extra-...


30

Either what was posted on that forum is about half-correct, or your understanding of what was said was about half-correct. Traditional Judaism does believe that "[H]oly texts are the revealed word of the divine and thus cannot ever be contradicted by modern research, philosophy or belief systems." It is not true "[t]hat it is understood that the scripture ...


25

I agree with the answer Daniel gave, but I would clarify things slightly differently. 1) Orthodox Judaism believes that the Torah is the literal Word of G-d. This is one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith as brought down by Maimonides: "We do not know exactly how the Torah was transmitted to Moses. But when it was transmitted, Moses merely wrote it ...


21

First, it may not be valid to assume that creation was bound by the laws of science as we now understand them. Why should we assume that the very first plants grew by photosynthesis in the same way that plants do now? Or if we do, why not assume that the primordial light created on the first day was enough to produce this effect? But setting all that ...


18

This question was discussed by the Meforshim (traditional commentators), who use Genesis 26:5 as a springboard for this discussion. The verse states: עֵקֶב אֲשֶׁר-שָׁמַע אַבְרָהָם בְּקֹלִי וַיִּשְׁמֹר מִשְׁמַרְתִּי מִצְו‍ֹתַי חֻקּוֹתַי וְתוֹרֹתָי. Rashi holds that the Avot kept the entire corpus of Halacha - all of Torah sheBa'al Peh — including ...


18

Targum Yonassan followed by Rashi (2:1) explain that she was an inkeeper (that "zona" in this context relates to the word "mazon" for bread). Radak explains that she was actually a prostitute and that even Targum agrees, and that sometimes Targum uses the term for innkeeper to mean harlot. Abarbanel writes that the two explanation arent mutually exclusive ...


15

The Talmud Bavli (Zevachim 116b, top) states quite plainly that she was a harlot: דאמר מר: אין לך כל שר ונגיד שלא בא על רחב הזונה. אמרו: בת י' שנים היתה כשיצאו ישראל ממצרים, וזנתה [כל] מ' שנה שהיו ישראל במדבר, אחר נ' שנה נתגיירה, אמרה: יהא מחול לי בשכר חבל חלון ופשתים. [A]s a master said, There was no prince or ruler who had not possessed Rahab the ...


13

Here are some additional sources: אין מקשין על האגדה We do not ask questions regarding Aggada. Various sources expressing this idea: (Rashba Megillah 15a) (R' Saadia Gaon, R' Hai Gaon, Otzar HaGeonim, Chagiga 13; Otzar HaGeonim, Pesach, 3a) (Meiri, Magen Avot 1) (Shiltei Giborim, Avoda Zara, 6a) (Ramban in his Disputation, also brought in responsa Chatam ...


13

Both Maimonides and Gersonides believed that manna fell from heaven. Maimonides discusses the verse which describes the manna as raining down from the doors of heaven and asserts that the "doors of heaven" part is figurative, implying that the "raining down" part is literal: Guide for the Perplexed 2:47 The same is the case with the following passage--"...


12

Here is a way to read this Rashi other that advancing corporealism: Usually, when we see Yad, it means to signify strength. So one might understand that Hashem will apply his strength against the Egyptians. However, Rashi here is saying that there is a metaphor here, of someone striking another. And that is an actual hand performing an act of hitting. To ...


11

Kesuvos 111b: (Art Scroll 11b5) has the following: Rami bar Yechezkel traveled to Bnai Brak. He saw certain goats that were eating under the fig trees, and [fig] honey dripped from the figs while milk dripped from [the udders of] these [goats] and [the two] mixed together [to form a flowing stream]. [Rami bar Yechezkel] said This is a [literal] ...


11

The notion of a semi-spherical shell around the world, that the sun travels under during the day, and then back around and over at night is not necessarily the early Israelite understanding of cosmology. Most of the evidence for it is from an era when he Babylonians and Persians had much much more accurate observations than the Greeks, and it is the ...


10

R' Tzvi Berkowitz told me that R' Yaakov Kaminetzky told him that the Ramban was only saying that for the purposes of the debate, in order to avoid addressing a question to which they would not accept the answer. This was along the lines of the principle of being "דוחה בקש" (pushing off with straw) someone who asks from an illegitimate standpoint. However, ...


10

R. Ezekiel Landau discusses this aspect of the tale in his commentary there. He explains that the spirit cannot leave the body until the body decomposes, and that is why we conduct burials in a manner that will quicken the process, by burying directly in the ground and using linen shrouds. A mat of reeds slows the rotting process and therefore the body of ...


7

The Mishna (Kiddushin 4:14) and Gemara (Yoma 28b) states that Avraham kept all of the mitzvos, even those established by the Rabbis such as Eiruvei Tavshilin (or Techumin). This is mentioned in various places throughout Midrashic literature as well (Midrash Rabba 64:4, Tanhuma Lech Lecha 11). This is usually understood to apply to the other forefathers as ...


6

Briefly, such an interpretation is inconsistent with the text and trend of Rav Saadia Gaon's discussion of this topic in Emunos v'Deos. The entire context of his discussions on when one may interpret Scripture contrary to the plain meaning is one of restricting the practice. Regarding allegorical interpretation Rav Saadia warns: The result of the ...


6

the quote about what Rav Saadia Gaon believed regarding literal vs. non-literal interpretation is correct but incomplete. After he writes "it is a well known fact that every statement found in the Bible is to be understood in its literal sense" - he then lists four cases when it is forbidden to take the Torah at literal understanding. They are (this can be ...


6

The term "literal" and its Hebrew or English counter-parts are not terms with hard and fast meanings so any discussion must necessarily be careful to clarify how the terms are being used in the immediate context. Generally "literal" meaning refers to the apparent meaning that the reader would reasonably be expected to take away from it. This can also be ...


6

Early Rabbinic Views on Understanding Aggadah/Midrash Rav Sherira Gaon 906-1006, head of the Pumbedita Academy Sefer Haeshcol, Hilkhot Sefer Torah, p. 60a Those points brought out from scriptural verses called Midrash and Aggadah are assumptions. Some are accurate such as Rabbi Judahs statement that Simeons portion was included in that of Judah, for we find ...


6

There are some areas where drawing your own conclusions is harmless, and some where it can be a big problem. Drawing your own conclusions when it will impact halacha is extremely dangerous, because there is a very real negative consequence. R' Yaakov Weinberg said that a person can say whatever p'shat (plain meaning) that he wants to in a verse, as long as ...


6

Your question presents contradictory ideas. Anyone that accepts the validity of the Oral law has inherently acknowledged that he is not translating the Written Law literally. That's the whole reason for having the Oral Law. As an example - The Torah says, "An eye for an eye". Literally, that means if I take out your eye, you take out mine (assuming you can ...


5

Richard Steiner (quoted by Natan Slifkin) cites Rashi in Shemot 14:31: את היד הגדלה: את הגבורה הגדולה שעשתה ידו של הקב"ה. והרבה לשונות נופלין על לשון יד, וכולן לשון יד ממש הן, והמפרש יתקן הלשון אחר ענין הדבור The great hand--the great mighty deed which God's hand has performed. Many meanings fit the word יד, but they are all the same as the ...


5

I think it would depend on which Midrash. I think the Rabbis throughout the generations understood that some Midrashim that are meant to be taken literally, and some aren't. However, which ones are to be taken literally and which ones are not may be a subject of debate. Take for example, the Midrash that tells us that Avraham Avinu was thrown into a fiery ...


5

Mikra (the TaNaCh), as opposed to Aggadaic Medrashim and Talmudic passages, are not allegories. Even when the verse is hinting a lesson, we learn that אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו, the verse does not abandon its simple meaning. There are a few exceptions, though. Firstly, there is such a thing as exaggerations when that is a manner of speaking. A famous example ...


5

There are different opinions regarding the nature of the rakia. One opinion is that of R. Avraham Ibn Ezra who writes in his commentary to Genesis (1:6) (Shitta acheret) as follows: והנכון בעיני, כי הארץ היתה מכוסה במים, והרוח יבש המים מעל הארץ כדרך ויעבר א-להים רוח על הארץ וישכו המים (ברא' ח, א) אז נראה. ובעבור האור היה הרקיע. והוא האויר ההוה על הארץ ...


5

Almost everyone will agree that neither extreme is correct. That is to say, that almost no one will interpret every word of the Torah literally, and almost no one will interpret every word of the Torah allegorically. The real question is what the balance is. How do we determine which parts of the Torah should be interpreted literally, and which parts should ...


4

If your question is, "Can the Torah be wrong?," then the Orthodox will tell you "no" and Conservative and Reform may vary from rabbi to rabbi. If you're asking "Can the Torah be taken not as face value in regard to historical events?," even in Orthodoxy its a matter of great controversy with many strong;y-worded tshuvos (responsa) and strongly-held ...


4

Rashi to Exodus (2:5): על יד היאור. אצל היאור, כמו ראו חלקת יואב אל ידי (שמואל-ב יד, ל.), והוא לשון יד ממש, שיד האדם סמוכה לו. ורבותינו דרשו, (סוטה יב:) הולכות לשון מיתה, כמו הנה אנכי הולך למות, (בראשית כה, לב.) הולכות למות לפי (צ) שמיחו בה, והכתוב מסייען, כי למה לנו לכתוב ונערותיה הולכות I'm not clear on his exact intent, but it is evident that "yad ...


4

Ralbag has two explanations of the order of creation that can address this. The first explanation is that everything existed at once. The sequence delineated in Genesis is just the order in which they were revealed. This is likened to someone who plants various seeds at the same time but some sprout before others. The second explanation is that existence is ...


4

I recently saw a mashal that applies. I was unable to find it so this is from memory. A rabbi had been in a major community for many years and was getting old. He wanted to go to a smaller community so as not to be under as much pressure and to have time to learn. The smaller community was of course delighted. He carefully arranged with his current ...


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