Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The meaning of each statement in the Torah exceeds the simple meaning conveyed in the words.”

 

Rabbi Steinsaltz writes:

Halachic sages were compelled by circumstances to decode and abstract the imagery concepts and the realistic examples found in older texts, to develop them and provide a new meaning suited to each generation.

In the field of halachah, this was quite essential, for it is impermissible to leave such matters obscure.

It was necessary, in fact, to establish as a basic principle that the meaning of each statement in the Torah exceeds the simple meaning conveyed in the words.

Thus it is written in the Talmud: “He who translates a passage as it seems to be, is a deceiver.”

Direct renderings of the formal content do not present the true significance, only a reduced aspect of the imagery concept.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From “The Imagery Concept in Jewish Thought” in The Strife of the Spirit

 

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