Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Although I have certainly made these points here already, I submitted this comment over at Hirhurim but it didn't post (but still flags it as a duplicate when I tried again):

I believe that it is worth pointing out that the Rambam pointed out that one may not choose a strictly allegorical interpretation just because it is "possible" but the circumstances must be such that an allegorical interpretation is better. Furthermore he points out that not every difficulty is resolved by allegorical interpretations.

Sa'adiah Gaon is another authority well known for allowing for strictly allegorical interpretations at times, but he was very critical of the practice in general and I believe that the threshold for allegorizing non-metephorical language is very difficult to reach.

I can't help but feel that for many people allegorical interpretation is seen as l'chatchilla, not b'diavad.


Pilpula Charifta said...

This topic of allegoric translations bothers me greatly, since it is very misrepresented. The Ri MiGash was asked when we can view the Pasuk as an allegory and when it is meant to be literal. He answered that only when the language calls out that it is not literal is it an allegory.

This is actually a very simple concept. If I tell you that I have a guy in my pocket then it is inherent in my language that I meant something else. But if I tell you that I that I climbed a tree and you decipher my sentence to mean that I made it to Manhattan without much traffic then you are twisting my words.

Likewise, if the Torah says that a city is fortified until the heavens, that is obviously a manner of speaking. When the Torah says that Hashem created the world in six days, which part of that makes it an obvious allegory? If it takes 3000 years for scientists to decide that perhaps the worlds developed over a long period of time, and we are too feeble spined to stick by the Torah, that makes it an obvious allegory!?

Yirmiahu said...

I think you make an important point. Similarly if you look at Rav Sa'adia Gaon's examples of "non literal" interpretation they tend to be what we would consider "peshat" after taking into account figurative language and so forth.