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"The Torah has not a single meaning but a simultaneous multiplicity of meanings"


The Torah narrative is, as it were, the first code.
Perfect in its execution, it is so well built as a narrative, with a surface meaning that can be understood on almost any level, that it does not reveal itself to be a code.

But below this stratum, there is always a submerged message (and that is itself a code to an even deeper stream of meaning). 

The Torah is said to be an orchard, a pardes, for the word pardes is an acronym for peshat, remez, derash, sod: "simple meaning,” "allusion,” "homiletics,” "esoteric meaning.” 

The Torah has not a single meaning but a simultaneous multiplicity of meanings: one tale within another, one signification within another.

In his introduction to the Guide to the Perplexed, Maimonides cites the verse, "Apples of gold in a silver setting-so is a word spoken correctly in its place." (Proverbs 25:11)

The "apples of gold in a silver setting," he explains, are an ornament in the form of a golden apple placed in a net of silver. 

At first glance, the ornament appears to be the silver net, but a second observation shows that the silver is merely the setting for the apple. 

So is "a word spoken correctly in its place." Wisdom must be expressed in such a way that there is wisdom in both the inner meaning and the parable; even the parable should be something precious. 

The silver net, the means of expression, is precious and finely crafted. 

However, that is not the ultimate intent; it is not the golden apples. 

Similarly, the meaning that we extract from the Written Torah's stories, ethical instruction, content, and even the words and sentences, are merely the setting, the silver net. 

The essential meaning lies in the letters themselves, which are the fundamental message of the Bible. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From Learning From the Tanya, Chapter 23, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz