The Way You Approach the Text


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As a way to learn more about the way each of us sees the text, I thought this would be a useful thread. Simply make a post describing how you approach the Torah, what you have in mind, what methods you are using, as you look at it. I will go first:

From a religio-cultural perspective, when I look at a text I am using PaRDeS methodology. I believe that this is similar to a Muslim methodology, but I am uncertain. PaRDeS (like paradise in English) is an acronym for pshat, remez, drash, and sod. Pshat is the plain meaning. Remez is the hinted meaning. Drash is the allegorical, homiletical meaning. Sod is the hidden or mystical meaning. So, an example.

"Joe and Fred went for a hike in the mountains."

The pshat of this would be that Joe and Fred went for a hike in the mountains. From a traditional Jewish perspective, and I concur, this is the plain meaning. Whatever other meaning is taken from it, that remains the plain meaning. Even if I'm doing biblical criticism and I think it's a more likely answer, in my understanding a plain reading of the text would bare a different understanding, the pshat understanding.

Remez we could say that they were going from somewhere, don't know where. Joe and Fred probably know each other. Things that seem implied.

Drash is homiletics and allegory. If I say that they were heading to the mountains because there was going to be a flood, and the only reason it sounds so casual is because this was a normal event, that their home would flood, that would be a drash, albeit not a very good one.

Sod would be if I said something like, Joe represents chochmah and Fred represents binah, "went for a hike" means in olam hanekudim. The mountains, read har not as mountains, but that it is only due to Ayn Sof that they exist at all.

Anything like that would be sod. Sometimes I approach like that. Often I do, because there's a lot of room to stretch there. But sometimes I also look at the text critically. And I suppose this is often too. I try not to let one approach dominate my way into Torah, as I find them both to be very spiritual.

My concern when I see the text, I want it to be meaningful. That's my greatest concern. I want to relate to the text, truly, mamish as they say, mamish relate to it. If I walk away and feel like I had a moment of losing myself in Torah I guess that's enough for me.

my approach is to try and understand it all to perfection. i know there are not enough years to do that. there is a longing for me to become one with the scripture, to seek & turn every stone and every time i roll each stone, i find something new hiding under it.
Im always looking at scripture in 2 different ways.. I know theres the surface meaning where anyone can read see the words and maybe understand, then I am looking for the deeper meaning.. what lies underneath. what is God trying to say or why did He do what He did. Sometimes I just get it and sometimes I have to meditate and pray on it. What makes it easy for me is one method I use in likening Him to an earthly father.
in hawaii we have four levels of meaning in all chants and legends .... the most sacred or profound meaning is called the 'huna' or sacred meaning .... this is the concept of the real knowledge of the 'kahuna' which simply translated means 'the secret' or the 'the sacred' ....

in native american traditions there are also four levels of meaning for example "the stories of the Lakota oral tradition are sacred literature which much be understood on four levels of consciousness .... they say this is likened to our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual natures and unfold in four stages of growth .... childhood, youth, adulthood and old age .... the first three levels can come eventually to any earnest seeker and he or she grows and matures .... the spirits alone can give us the last and highest comprehension .... all four levels are true and those four truths are one truth .... the medicine men say that how deeply each of us understands the stories tells us about the level we have attained in our own lives" (Lakota star knowledge) ...

so dauer, your description of pshat, remez, drash, and sod tells us the same thing .... i personally believe that if we could all reach the level of 'sod' or 'huna' we will see the same thing and realize our connectedness .... then the 'regathering' will begin .... so for myself, I love going right to the 'huna' in looking at the meaning of texts .... i've been trained to do this for well over 40 years and it comes easy to me .... easy to see, but not so easy to put in words .... but i try .... if it makes sense to even one other, than i have been successful in this endeavor because each thought begins to ripple out like a wave and it touches another and another ..... I have learned much from the dialogue and look forward to continuing to be part of it .... he hawai'i au, pohaikawahine p.s. i try to toss in some concepts from other traditions that reflect the same type of knowledge as a way to draw parallels to what we all know and believe .... to me this is the heart of a forum on comparative religions and beliefs ....

it is awesome that you tie in different types of traditions. Unfortunately, only Jews and Christians for the most part are showing up for this so there are a very limited number of voices, but you are bringing in a lot of what is missing.