- Torah and Jewish Thought
- General Questions
As a Christian, I have always believed in the literal interpretation of the Old Testament. However, there are many who suggest that some of the events/occurrences in the Old Testament are symbolic or allegorical or borrowed from other sources. Are there conservative and/or liberal Jews whose views differ on the reality of the events/occurrences in the Torah. I was always taught that if God said it happened, it happened.
Of course, for every believing Jew, the events in the Bible actually occurred and are not "symbolic"! The Christians try claiming that most of the 613 practical commandments, even the fringes on the 4 cornered garments, and the phylacteries (tfilin) on our arms and head, are "symbolic", but the Jews have never stopped wearing them every day. There are some select events, like Ya'akov's wrestling with the angel and other appearances of angels, which, according to the Rambam, occurred in dreams, but even there, most disagree with his commentary. Additionally, we are taught that the story of creation can only be taught or understood by individual and rare students, inferring that there was much more that took place there, as opposed to the apparently simple literal account. Theologically, regarding the "Conservative"or "Reform"/"Liberal" movements, a religion like Judaism, which has been around for over 3,300 years, cannot take such recent "Johnny-come-lately" deviations from tradition, very seriously. Accordingly, their views, especially the non-believing ones, which aren't based upon tradition, are generally irrelevant for those wishing to understand Jewish belief, so we usually don't relate to them on this website.