Norman Fischer How We Read Torah

In this talk from the 2005 winter ECAMP retreat, Norman provides an overview for a profound reading of the Torah and of our lives.

…In other words it has nothing to do with the subject matter of the Torah, it’s actually a text that is trying to access the incomprehensibility of our lives.

And it’s a very intricate system that at any point in your life you have a problem that you don’t know what it is, but if you pick up the Torah and read it, (the Torah of that moment which is on the calendar and so forth), the Torah of that moment will elucidate the problem of your life at that moment that you are not sure even what it is, but you’ll figure it out and discover it by reading the Torah text.

This is how the thing is supposed to work. It’s actually supposed to work that way, that the Torah text is actually your biography, but your hidden biography not the biography that you know about but the biography that really counts that you don’t know about that’s in the text that if you read it you’ll find out.

Then there’s another thing, suppose your biography, the story that you know about your life including where you were born and what your name is and your profession and your emotional life and your wounds, your joys, your sorrows, your problems; suppose the biography of your life was also a Torah text, subject to the four levels of interpretation, the four trillion levels of interpretation.

Suppose you’ve been reading this text only on one level all this time. Suppose the problems that you have, the issues, …your issues were actually just the Pashat, that the problems that you think you have. Many of us are sitting here with all these problems, we’re fairly convinced that we have these problems and in fact, strongly reinforcing these problems in that belief.

Suppose that those problems were just the Pashat and we have to fill in with the Drash and the Remez and the Sod of those problems so we could really practice our lives instead of being stuck in a one dimensional story of our lives. And suppose further that the text of the Torah would help us to decipher the text of our lives. Wouldn’t that be interesting if that were so?


2 Responses to “How We Read Torah”

  1. Laura Hegfield Says:


  2. Mendel Weinberger Says:

    I second the previous reply and add that the silence we practice in meditation is like the white space around the letters in the sefer Torah. It provides the context for the meaning we attribute to the words. Thank you Norman Fisher for your inspiritaion.