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Literally Isaiah, but not literally

More than halfway through the Days of Awe, now:

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

So, there are four methods of Scriptural interpretation: p’shat, remez, d’rash and sod. They are referred to by their initials: pardes, Paradise. Kinda nice, although kinda not as well, given what happened to the Four who went there. Anyway, of the four, the p’shat or simple meaning, is the meaning of the text, taken as literally and specifically as possible. remez is an explanation that finds clues within various sources to reference each other. d’rash uses a variety of methods including storytelling and symbolism to draw a general lesson, not always directly connected to or derivable from the text. sod is the secret meaning of the text, not discernable at all without the keys provided by inspiration.

I generally eschew sod, because for all my belief in the Divine, in the Divine Creation, and in Scripture, I can’t swallow that particular kind of revelation. I have no wish to turn my interpreting over to some Rebbe, just because the Divine spoke to Rebbe personally. I suppose my concordance-clicky-Bibliomancy is remez, of sorts. But mostly, what I do is d’rash: seeking out a lesson for myself from the text that is not the plain meaning of it. I try not to reject p’shat, except I suppose where I do reject it, but I don’t feel confined to it.

I bring that up, because the word d’rash means seek, and our text here is dirshu mishpat: seek justice. The plain meaning, the p’shat is that we should, you know, seek justice. And any interpretation that rejects that meaning clearly rejects the verse: that is how p’shat works. But there can be additional interpretations, d’rash interpretations, too. And it seems to me that the verse is saying to me: d’rash justice. Don’t just look for justice in the obvious and stop. Use storytelling, symbolism, allegory. Be creative; use whatever tools are in the mind the Divine gave you. Go beyond the obvious. Don’t stop.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.