Forgive me my tendency to question the foundations.

I can surely understand the Halachic interpretations and exegesis of the text required to infer practical laws. Without it, we could not probably keep the Mitzvos "properly".

Undoubtfully, Torah's interpretation is a trivial thing, we all got used to it. But why does the non-Halachic part of the Torah require interpretations? Did God or Moses or prophets command on it? Is the text imperfect? Is it unclear?

I would like to know how do the interpreters themselves see the need for interpretation.

  • 1
    "The Torah (Shebaal Peh - see Rashi there) is 3200 times the size of the world" (Eruvin 21a). If all of those were part of Torah Shebichsav, we wouldn't be able to even write the whole thing, let alone read and understand it. (And there's no reason to assume that this refers only to the parts of Torah Shebaal Peh that deal with halachah; aggadata is part of TSBP too.)
    – Meir
    Nov 3, 2020 at 23:05
  • Can you provide an example of the type of phenomenon you are questioning? The Torah says “וימצאו איש מקשש עצים”. Is your question why we need interpretation as to who the איש is? Is that what you mean by the text being imperfect or unclear?
    – Alex
    Nov 3, 2020 at 23:24
  • One can learn from all parts of the Torah.
    – Shlomy
    Nov 4, 2020 at 0:06

1 Answer 1


The Torah represents total reality. We do not live in total reality, we live in a subset of reality. Therefore the Torah has to be interpreted according to the subset of reality in which we live, in order to make it accessible to us.

So for example, Rb Dessler points out that the moral interpretations of the prohibition to serve avodah zarah changes as you track commentators through the ages, to be a response to the avodah zarah prevalent in their times.

In other words, what this means to say (as an answer to your question), is that regarding Avraham for example, it says


אלא מלמד שזימן הקדוש ברוך הוא לאברהם אבינו שתי כליותיו כשני חכמים, והיו מבינות אותו ויועצות אותו ומלמדות אותו חכמה כל הלילה.

"This teaches you that Hashem set Avraham's two kidneys to be like two wise men and they taught him wisdom and council and they would teach him wisdom the entire night."

I.e. just as Avraham learnt the Torah through the lens of his personality, so too the Torah commentators see new understanding in the words of the Torah through the lens of their personality, in the way that they must perforce seek understanding in order to survive and flourish in a Torah manner according to the challenges and world-mask of their age.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review Nov 4, 2020 at 4:34
  • @sabbahillel Updated, is that OK?
    – The GRAPKE
    Nov 4, 2020 at 5:02
  • Thank you. Are you saying, that because the Torah because eventually outdated and irrelevant, it needs to be reinterpreted with more appropriate explanations?
    – Al Berko
    Nov 4, 2020 at 19:34
  • I am saying the absolute opposite. I am saying the Torah is timeless and eternal, and we have a need to translate it so we can understand according to the temporal anomalies of our generation.
    – The GRAPKE
    Nov 4, 2020 at 22:28

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