Symbols play a crucial role in self and group identification and affect almost everything we do. Be they roses or a diamond ring, symbols can speak louder than actions (not to mention words). Failure to understand the symbolic meaning behind many a gesture can lead to embarrassment and friction.
symbolism in the mishkan
One of the fiercest debates amongst medieval biblical commentaries was the extent to which parts of the Torah might be allegorical. The Ramban (Breisheet 18:1) does not take too kindly to the position of the Rambam (Guide 2:42) that the visit of the three angels to Abraham, or Jacob's struggle with an angel, was a prophetic vision that does not reflect physical reality. In more recent times, a related issue has arisen regarding the understanding of the “six days” of Creation.