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Pardes (Jewish exegesis)

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The Pardes typology describes four different approaches to Biblical exegesis in rabbinic Judaism (or - simpler - interpretation of text in Torah study). The term, sometimes also spelled PaRDeS, is an acronym formed from the name initials of these four approaches, which are:

  • Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — "plain" ("simple") or the direct meaning[1].
  • Remez (רֶמֶז) — "hints" or the deep (allegoric) meaning beyond just the literal sense.
  • Derash (דְּרַשׁ) — from Hebrew darash: "inquire" ("seek") — the comparative (midrashic) meaning, as given through similar occurrences.
  • Sod (סוֹד) (pronounced with a long O as in gold) — "secret" ("mystery") or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.

Each type of Pardes interpretation examines the extended meaning of a text. As a general rule, the extended meaning never contradicts the base meaning. The Peshat means the plain or contextual meaning of the text. Remez is the allegorical meaning. Derash includes the metaphorical meaning, and Sod represents the hidden meaning. There is often considerable overlap, for example when legal understandings of a verse are influenced by mystical interpretations or when a "hint" is determined by comparing a word with other instances of the same word.

Some thinkers, such as the Tolaat Yaakov, divide Pardes into Peshat, Remez, Din (law), and Sod. According to this understanding, Derash is divided into the homiletics, which are classified under Remez, and legal interpretations, which are classified under Din.

The Pardes typology is quite similar to the contemporary Christian fourfold allegorical scheme.

Examples

Pshat

{Gen. 1,2) And the earth was empty (tohu) and formless (bohu).
Rashi - The Hebrew word 'tohu' means astonishment in English and the word 'bohu' means emptiness and next to emptiness. Thus the phrase is 'amazement and desolation'. This means that a person would be amazed and astonished at anything that was there.

Remez

(gemara makkos 2b) Q. A hint that the law of conspiring witnesses is in the Torah, where is it?
A. There is no such hint, because it is stated explicitly (Deut 19,19) You do to them what they conspired to do to the accused.

Q. But a hint that conspiring witnesses receive a whipping [if they cannot be punished by doinng to them as they conspired] according to the Torah, where is it?
A. As it says (Deut 25,1-2) They caused the righteous to be righteous and the evil to be evil. And therefore the evil get whipped.

Q. Because they caused the righteous to be righteous and the evil to be evil. And therefore the evil get whipped?
A. But there must have been witnesses who testified that the righteous were evil. And other witnesses came and caused the righteous to be known as righteous as they were before, and caused the previous witnesses to be known as evil. And therefore the evil get whipped.

Derash (Midrash)

(gemara makkos 23b) Rabbi Simlai deduced that there were 613 mitzvot taught to Moses at Mount Sinai. The verse says that (Deut 33,4) Torah was given to us through Moses at Sinai. The gematria of Torah is 611. And one should add to them the first two of the Ten Commandments that were given directly by God to the Jews [this is known because they are written in the first person singular], making the total 613.

Sod

(Guide for the Perplexed book2 section 30) "Adam and Eve were at first created as one being, having their backs united: they were then separated, and one half was removed and brought before Adam as Eve." . Note how clearly it has been stated that Adam and Eve were two in some respects, and yet they remained one, according to the words," Bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" (Gen. ii. 23). The unity of the two is proved by the fact that both have the same name, for she is called ishshah (woman), because she was taken out of ish (man), also by the words," And shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh" (ii. 24). How great is the ignorance of those who do not see that all this necessarily includes some [other] idea [besides the literal meaning of the words].

Association with paradise

The Pardes system is often regarded as mystically linked to the word pardes (Hebrew פָּרְדֵּס), meaning orchard. "Pardes" is cognate with the word "paradise", and Firdaus (Arabic فِردَوس), and probably originally from Persian. It occurs only three times in the Tanakh, namely, in Song of Songs 4:13, Ecclesiastes 2:5, and Nehemiah 2:8. In the first of these passages it means "garden"; in the second and third, "park." In the apocalypses and in the Talmud the word is used of the Garden of Eden and its heavenly prototype.[2] From this usage, comes Christianity's denotation of Paradise as the abode of the blessed.[3][4]

References

  1. Peshat in the Jewish Encyclopedia
  2. Compare references in Weber's "Jüdische Theologie," 2d ed., 1897, pp. 344 et seq.
  3. Compare Luke 23:43; II Cor. 12:4; Rev2:7..
  4. Paradise in the Jewish Encyclopedia

See also

External links

Jewish Encyclopedia links

Other links

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Pardes (Jewish exegesis). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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