Home > Hashkafah > Learning up Chumash

Learning up Chumash

Posted by Dovid Boruch Kopel
November 25, 2008 - כ"ח מרחשון ה' תשס"ט
Hide Comments Views (279)
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

With hope to begin writing a weekly Dvar Torah on the Parshah I thought to explain some of the methodologies used. The learning of Torah in all of its components has never been limited to one way of doing things. This does not mean that any approach to Torah is valid, rather only things that have been passed down from generation to generation. I am primarily referring to the methods of learning Torah, but this is also true with many notions with little or no apparent inference. The mesorah or tradition of our Torah is what is uniquely the longest running tradition from Sinai until present times. To see more about the sanctity of the Tradition of the Torah click here.

When we learn Chumash it is our goal to understand all that we can grasp. The first and possibly the most important aspect of this understanding is remembering that there is no end to the depth of Torah. I want to focus on the study and not the reasons but it is necessary to note that the infinite wisdom of the Torah is parallel to the infinity of Hashem. The study of  Torah is the Wisdom of the Almighty, that is something that we must constantly recall in our learning. It is me who lacks the clarity, it is not the Torah. There is always an answer, though sometimes the answer is that we cannot understand! Unlike the studies of the world’s wisdom, Torah is given through divine inspiration, and cannot be attained purely through trial and error. It must be given to you through your effort. That is why some of the greatest scholars are not the wisest, and visa versa. The one who is successful in the study of Torah is the one who is most capable of grasping its teachings. Just as Torah is compared to water, so to a person who wants to learn Torah must be capable of obtaining the Torah. That is to say just as water flows from high-ground to low-ground so too Torah flows from the highest of high to the lowest of low. If you are haughty you will not obtain the yoke of Torah.

The actual mechanics of ‘learning up’ Torah may seem to be a normal analysis of any text. When in fact Torah is found in four different arenas of comprehension. Pshat, Drosh, Remez, Sode, or the simple understanding, the interpreted understanding, the hinted understanding, and the deeper understanding. It is these four paths that unleash the infinite wisdom of the Torah. Each of the four methods of learning are a mastery in their own right and each take years to get even the smallest acquisition in Torah. Within the different methods of learning Torah there are many different interpretations within a common field of thought. What is considered one method and not the other is sometimes unclear, just as ones applying the understandings of each in context with the others. Within the many faces of Torah, there need not be a continuity as much as a continuum through one phase to the next. That means that there may be dozens of understandings of Pshat in one Pasuk but each one has a truth to it that may not seem to connect to the other one. In the deeper understanding of the Pasuk you will learn that everything has a connection, but it may be a more distant relationship than you thought.

I would like to briefly introduce the four methods of learning Torah without too much explanation. They are by nature quite complex and their guidelines are not as finite as you may think.

  • Pshat – The simple understanding of a Pasuk or even a Chazal or just about anything that we learn, both the Written Laws and Oral Laws. This can range from the realization of what the root of a word is that would explain the word in its current context. Note that words in Torah all have a connection in simple and deeper understandings.
  • Drosh – There is actually an old discussion Tannayim between Rebbe Yossi HaGlili and  Rebbe Yishmael if there are thirteen attributes in the interpretation of the Torah or thirty-two. Even within these methods there are a myriad of finer points of discussion in regards to application of such methodologies. The droshos of the Torah have the power to uproot the simple understanding in order to establish a din. This concept is the most common in the learning of Torah Sh’Baal Peh (The Oral Law), as it uses the mesorah that we have to understand the great depths of the Torah.
  • Remez – This hinting of the Torah is found throughout all of the texts that we learn from. There are remuzim (hints) that will show you a symbolic connection that portrays two concepts in a way that is not apparent through the surface. Remez will speak in a different language than its companions Pshat and Drosh. Unlike drosh where the Chachamim will take the simple understanding and through their Divine Inspiration uproot the seemingly clear words of Torah and give new found meaning in its stead. Remez allows for a simultaneous meaning, that means while the pasuk may be referring to an entity it its representation of a deeper concept will be seen through a simple statement. The Remez are often dealt with as Bechinos or Midos that are seen through the depths of an entity.
  • Sode – The secrets of the Torah are revealed through the great wisdom of Chazal in much more hidden mannerisms. Only the great Chachamim even begin to touch on these great depths that are not taught to all audiences. The sodos of Torah are prohibited to teach to numbers and especially to those who are not prepared to learn its teachings. Some common forms of sodos are Gematriah, and Atbash, Roshei Tavos, Sofei Tavos and of course all of the Remuzim of the Torah. The sodos of the Torah focus on the power of the names of the Almighty and their effect in this world. These teachings are out of the focus of this and are sacred for those who are merited to understand its teachings.

It is my goal to explain these concepts as well as use them through our journey through the great wisdom of the Torah. It should the will of Hashem that these all that I have said and will say should be contained within these great pillars. Only words of emes and inspiration to carry out the will of Hashem in our lives.

Hashkafah ,

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.