PaRDeS

Holy books in Judaism:

1. The Torah (first five books of Moses): Genesis/Bereishit, Exodus/Shemot, Leviticus/Vayikra, Numbers/Bamidbar and Deuteronomy/Devarim.

2. The Tanakh (the Hebrew Scriptures): TaNaKh is acronym for Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).

3. All the books of the Talmud: Mishna, Gemara, Pirkei Avot, Midrash Aggadah and Midrash Halacha.

4. Jewish Mysticism/Kabbalah.

Exoteric VS Esoteric: Exoteric means teachings that are generally known and commonplace, while esoteric means that which is hidden or concealed.

PaRDeS is an acronym which stands for the four traditional levels of Hebrew scriptural interpretation used in Judaism as defined below. The word “pardes” means orchard in Hebrew.

פשט P’shat: The plain, simple, surface meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures. Usually the literal interpretation, although even P’shat Hebrew can contain language that is figurative and allegorical. P’shat is the first stepping stone into the deeper levels.

רמז Remez: The hinted at, implied, alluded to and deeply allegoric meaning of the Hebrew text. Includes gematria, a numerical system for reading Hebrew.

דרש D’rash: Root of Midrash. Homiletic, ethical and moralistic exegesis of the Hebrew scriptures. A ‘drash’ or ‘drasha’ (similar to a sermon) is an interpretation containing elements that are not explicit in the text.

סוֹד Sod: The secret, concealed, gematric, esoteric meanings embedded within Hebrew words and biblical passages, revealed in Kabbalah by the Jewish mystics.


Midrash: Rabbinic commentary and interpretation that seeks to clarify ambiguities in the original ancient Hebrew text. Midrash is often metaphorical or allegorical in nature. 

Two types of Midrashic writings:

Midrash Halacha: Clarifies ambiguities in the Hebrew text regarding Jewish law.

Midrash Aggadah: Rabbinic interpretations (of the original Hebrew text) in the form of wisdom, life lessons, story-telling and parables.