Learning Tanach with Emunah

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Chukat 5772 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Question: Various Rabbis, and all sorts of researchers, have different interpretations of the Tanach. What’s wrong with having teachers share them all? Why must they conclude that there is only one truth? What could be better than presenting all of the possibilities and then allowing the students to select those that best suit them?
Answer: Our Education Ministry is not meant to be a supermarket of ideas. Rather, upon it rests the enormous responsibility of fostering the purity and holiness of our precious Jewish children. It must therefore follow the tried-and-true path, and not follow alien pathways, however prominent the personages who suggest alternative approaches. We must follow only the guidance of our holy Torah: “Follow the majority,” both as far as following the majority opinion amongst Rabbis, and as far as following those who Rabbis possess the most Torah wisdom (Choshen Mishpat 25:2; Rama). Most of our great Sages absolutely reject the idea of introducing secular approaches, let alone heretical ideas, into the holy study of Tanach. Rather, the task is to foster the fear of G-d, and to view the giants of the Tanach with reverence. Moreover, study of Tanach must be based not just on the ideas of contemporary Rabbis, but on the ideas of the Sages down through the generations, who are infinitely greater.

Question: We want Tanach to be relevant to the students so that they feel an attachment to it. So why not create new interpretations that make the text relevant for the student?
Answer: Then the student isn’t studying Tanach - he’s studying himself.  Relevance? Certainly!  But relevance to what?  To the supreme image of G-d in man?  To the specialness of the Jewish soul?  Or to man’s lowly passions? 
Here I shall enlist the words of Rabbi Yehuda Léon Askénazi, from his Sefer Perurim MeShulchan Gavoha (p. 23):
What is ‘Parshanut’ (Exegesis of Tanach)?
There are two approaches to how to interpret the Tanach:
1. In the first approach, the commentator holds that the text has no logical meaning.  He therefore advances his own interpretation in order to infuse the text with meaning it never possessed in the first place. Ultimately, however, this involves forcing the commentator’s thoughts onto the text. That is not the traditional approach.
2. According to the traditional definition, "Parshanut" involves transmitting to the student the tradition that has been preserved in the Jewish memory but that has been lost to many. It transmits a fundamental approach without which there is no possibility of understanding a thing. In the general culture, the academic ground rule of exegesis is that the text has no meaning per se, other than that affixed to it by the commentator. The traditional definition, however, is that the text being learned cannot be understood by any except those who, in advance, have absorbed deep into their psyches the culture suited and relevant to that text.  People tend to think that exegetical works which spring up around the original increase wisdom and knowledge. In their view, modern man knows more than his predecessors, and a plethora of books is a sign of an increase in knowledge compared to the original. That idea is illusionary. In the traditional approach, precisely the opposite is the case: Because we know less, we need more books…
The Text of the Tanach Teaches us.
It is the text of the Tanach which teaches Us. We do not put words in its mouth. The Tanach teaches us ideas that we could never attain solely with our own thoughts and morality.  The Tanach always transcends the absolute ability of the human intellect. The moment you understand this, you discover the proper approach to Torah study: The verse teaches us. It informs us of what we must know, and not the opposite -  that I fill in its words. Thus, if there is a disagreement between the reader and the verse, the reader must be aware in advance that the verse is right. As long as he does not understand how it is right, he hasn’t understood a thing.
I believe I have explained this point sufficiently. Even so, I shall quote from the Talmud on this topic: A wise man once spoke of how much he had learned from his teachers: 'Much Torah have I learned from them, but what I learned, compared to what they possess, cannot even be likened to what a dog could lap out of the sea' (Sanhedrin 68a). I don’t know if you understand this parable, but you must realize that this is the meaning of Torah learning.