I've received lots of email prompted by my post on the Temple Mount - in a very short time - asking the same question. Here I quote my very wise and spiritual good friend Janaki who also commented below. Janaki writes:
Comment part 1: "what i always come to in grappling with these questions is, does it matter whether something happened or didn't happen - whether the stories are history or fiction, doesn't the human (or Godly) Truth matter, in the end?"
IMHO, no, it doesn't matter whether or not something actually happened, whether the stories are history or fiction and whether Truth ultimately matters. My feeling is that these ideas - the Akeda, Creation story, the Exodus - are part of the Jewish story, they form the core metaphor around our beliefs. Whether or not they happened historically is beside the point - to US, they DID happen. They form the Judaism that we all currently believe in or run away from - therefore they must be real. Now, does real mean the same thing as historically accurate. Not at all.
Ever since I've been little I've understood that Gd created the universe in 6 days and rested on Shabbat. At the same time, I know that the world is billions of years old, not just 6000 plus. Does it matter? Did this dual belief challenge my אמונה my faith, at all? No. I guess even as a kid I knew that I lived in 2 civilizations. As an adult, I often wonder why all people can't understand that.
Comment part 2: "i find it particularly fascinating to try and hold the multitude of meanings for different peoples, Jews and Muslims and Christians, that the "holy" sites hold."
All I can say to that is "ditto." Perhaps the ultimate time of peace for all of us will come when we will be able to respect these multiple meanings and all those that hold them. That is my wish and my prayer as I go into this weekend which contains the Sabbath of all 3 major religions, takes place in the introspective month of Elul and holds within it the observance of Ramadan.
שבת שלום ומבורך
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem,