There is a concept that pesukim can be understood derech p'shat, remez, drush and sod. I'm not sure if that means that EVERY pasuk contains this 4 ways but I was wondering if any pasuk does not contain a p'shat derech of understanding?


4 Answers 4


My nearest example is:

Devorim 25 (6) which speaks about levirate marriage (Yibum). The link is to the Chabad Tanach. That translation takes into account that fact that the possuk does not mean what it seems to say.

A literal translation might be: “The first-born son whom she bears will then perpetuate the name of the dead brother, so that his name will not be obliterated from Israel.”

As you can see from Rashi: וְהָיָה הַבְּכוֹר אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵד יָקוּם עַל שֵׁם אָחִיו הַמֵּת does not take that meaning

but means that

the eldest brother will take the share of his deceased brother’s inheritance of their father’s property [in addition to his own share].

Pshat is defined by Ohr Someach as the simplest meaning, based on the text and context.

This is a possuk in which a simple meaning based on the text is not true.

To understand it, we have to go to the Gemoro Yev. 24a that Rashi quotes.

  • 2
    i would say that there the peshat IS inheritance. just like 'title' in English can mean many things. and as we see in Rut 4, sites.google.com/site/galmaniparasha/home/bomkom/ruth-4 where they speak of לְהָקִים שֵׁם-הַמֵּת עַל-נַחֲלָתוֹ yet the child is not named Machlon or Kilyon. Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 3:17
  • @joshwaxman But how will you deal with וְהָיָה הַבְּכוֹר אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵד to mean that the eldest brother has the first duty to do Yibbum? Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 18:07
  • Ah, now I see. My bad. I retract. Maybe I'll comment again in a bit. Commented Dec 4, 2013 at 1:48
  • @AvrohomYitzchok The Zohar does take this to be literal, and says the soul of the deceased will return to the body of the firstborn child to maintain the name of the deceased. (You could argue if that is "pshat" but it is the simple meaning.) Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 1:51
  • @YEZ wow! Can you give a reference to the Zohar please? Commented Feb 2, 2014 at 12:47

B'reishis 35:22,

וַיְהִי בִּשְׁכֹּן יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָרֶץ הַהִוא וַיֵּלֶךְ רְאוּבֵן וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֶת-בִּלְהָה פִּילֶגֶשׁ אָבִיו וַיִּשְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיִּהְיוּ בְנֵי-יַעֲקֹב שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר

And it came to pass, while Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.

does not contain a p'shat, as per Shabbos 55b:

שמואל בר נחמני א״ר יונתן כל האומר ראובן חטא אינו אלא טועה שנאמר ויהיו בני יעקב שנים עשר מלמד שכולן שקולים כאחת אלא מה אני מקיים וישכב את בלהה פילגש אביו מלמד שבלבל מצעו של אביו ומעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו שכב עמה

R. Samuel b. Nahman said in R. Jonathan's name: Whoever maintains that Reuben sinned is merely making an error, for it is said, Now the sons of Jacob were twelve, teaching that they were all equal. Then how do I interpret, and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine? This teaches that he transposed his father's couch, and the Writ imputes [blame] to him as though he had lain with her.

  • 1
    Are there any sources who disagree?
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 16:35
  • @DoubleAA I think that there are opinions in the Gemara who say that he did. Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 17:26
  • 5
    The analysis in the Gemara appears to be a peshat analysis. It resolves an apparent contradiction in the text by assuming a particular interpretation of one of the phrases. Even if that interpretation isn't what you'd first think when reading the text before doing that analysis, and even if you don't find the analysis convincing or consistent with your tradition, the product is still peshat. Similarly, if I say "the Sun rose," and you choose not to interpret that as an increase in the distance between the Sun and the Earth, that doesn't mean that you're interpreting my statement un-Peshatly.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 17:37
  • 2
    @ShmuelBrin, I don't know the exact definition of "peshat," but I'm certain that it's not "interpreting each word or phrase literally, regardless of context." If that were the case, the answer to this question would probably be "a great deal of the Torah; source: Rashi." Relevant questions: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/6103/is-rashi-really-pshat judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16870/does-pshat-explain-everything Another prominent example: "עין תחת עין"
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Oct 2, 2013 at 21:43
  • 1
    אינו אלא טועה is not meant literally. ;) ;) Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 3:14

This question confuses a lot of people, and the confusion arises from people thinking that the word p'shat, the first of the four levels of פרדס, means the same as when we say that Rashi is explaining p'shat - an unfortunate but understandable mistake. Because the two usages of this word have two very different meanings.

The first means the literal meaning of the words of the Torah. The second means the simple explanation of the Torah, how we are supposed to understand what the Torah is saying. This is what the פשטנים - Rashi, Ramban, Ibn Ezra, et al. - are coming to do, and this is why we are commanded the read the weekly Torah portion with the Targun Onkelos and/or Rashi, so that we know what the Torah means to say on a basic level.

Most of the time this basic meaning is the p'shat, the literal meaning of the words, but sometimes what Chazal teach us in the midrash or the gemara is what the Torah means, and thus Rashi brings their explanations as the 'p'shat' - the basic teaching of the Torah.


The Gemara in Bava Kama 84a has an extended discussion about the meaning of the verse עין תחת עין, which everyone assumes does not mean what it says. In fact, when towards the end of the discussion (10 lines from the bottom) רבי אליעזר has the gumption to suggest עין תחת עין ממש, the Gemara immediately declares that he can't literally have meant literally! Rather he meant...

It seems that there is no possibility that it means what it says.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .