Life is Like an Orchard

Get your SKINNY on in less time than it takes to download the latest Dumb Ways to Die app.


(the pitch)

SKINNY readers who’ve been paying attention know that the 10 Commandments story is a mashup. First, God tried to give the Top 10 List directly to the Jewish people. But, God’s presence was too powerful and overwhelming for them to hear so they told Moses to set up a GoToMeeting with God. Moses went up the mountain top to meet f2f with God, but got distracted with 53 other commandments. (If you got distracted by Super Bowl 50 fever, you can Netflix the 53 other commandments and catch up to this week’s episode.) In this week’s Torah reading, Moses made it to the summit of Mt. Sinai and sent Instagram posts to our peeps who were waiting at the base of the mountain. The Torah reading this week is called Terumah (teh-roo-mah), which means gift or offering because Moses got instructions for building a DIY pop-up dream house, called the mishkan (me-sh-kahn), as a gift to God and the Jewish people. Think of the mishkan as the original synagogue. It was a place for God’s presence to dwell and for our peeps to perform religious ceremonies. Our ancestors got to work right away building the mishkan with Moses as the lead contractor. God was the mishkan’s architect and gave detailed instructions for how to build it as a portable structure so it could travel with the Jews as they journeyed through the desert. The mishkan was elaborate with an inner chamber that had a stunning woven curtain made from fabrics Moses bought on Amazon Prime. It also had an ark made out of wood and gold to house the 10 Commandments.


(the over think)

The traditional approach to Torah study is called PaRDeS (par-day-ce), which is an acronym for: Peshat (p’shot), Remez (reh-mez), Drash (d-rash – don’t itch, it’s like wash with an “R”), and Sod (like sewed). Together, Peshat, Remez, Drash, and Sod comprise the 4 interpretive methods of Torah study:

Peshat means surface. It’s when we read and interpret the explicit or literal meaning of the text.
Remez means hints. It’s when we focus on the alluded messages of the text (like “reading between the lines”).
Drash comes from the Hebrew word for search or investigate. It refers to the allegoric or hermeneutic meaning of the text. Midrash (mid-rah-sh) – ancient commentary – is from the same Hebrew root word.
Sod means secret or mystery. It illuminates the text’s esoteric or mystical significance.
Typically, each approach in PaRDeS expands on or further explains the text’s explicit meaning. That is, Peshat is the text’s literal meaning and Remez, Drash, and Sod build on, clarify, or make more meaning from Peshat – the text’s starting place. The different interpretative approaches often overlap because textual meanings or interpretations don’t always purely fit into one approach or the other. Collectively, PaRDeS helps us explore and find meaning in the Torah. Team SKINNY likes it that the word pardes in Hebrew means orchard. Together, they create an orchard of understanding.


(to be in-the-know)

Reading the SKINNY is not simply entertaining (we demure), it’s also serious Torah study. The various sections in the SKINNY: TAKE A BITE, GET FAT, THE SKINNY, FULFILLED, and SMALL BITES intentionally correspond to PaRDeS:
TAKE A BITE (the pitch) is Peshat. In this section, we offer a literal summary of the weekly Torah reading. (Although, we reserve the right to make silly puns and add goofy pop culture references.)
GET FAT (the over think) is Remez. In this section, we explore something that’s implied or alluded to in the text. We particularly like it when the Torah points to a broader understanding of what it means to be Jewish and how-to live a Jewishly engaged life.
THE SKINNY (to be in-the-know) is pure Drash. We dig into the text’s deeper messages and often riff to other topics that relate to the text (or not). That’s part of the permitted fun of “giving a Drash.”
FULFILLED (bookmark. reflect. share.) is Sod. We explore the text’s spiritual or psychological meaning and its relevance to our lives today.
SMALL BITES (to chew on) is our random catch-all section that doesn’t necessarily relate to PaRDeS at all... except when it does… because sometimes things just don’t fit neatly into boxes and sometimes they do. Just like in life!


(bookmark. reflect. share.)

Team SKINNY asks: Is Life like PaRDeS?

PESHAT – Literally, what we did today: Woke up, read the SKINNY, drank coffee, yoga, work, lunch, work, cocktails and dinner…

REMEZ – Reading between the lines of our day: Woke up before the alarm, read the SKINNY because we’re trying to be more spiritually engaged, drank decaf coffee, dragged ourselves out of bed to make it to yoga, finished a challenging project at work, ate kale salad for lunch…

DRASH – The deeper meaning of our day: We remembered the dream we had just before we woke up, something we read in the SKINNY resonated for us, that project we finished at work meant we made our bonus, and we’ve been trying to master the head and foot pose in yoga for weeks and finally did it!

SOD – The mystical essence of our day: That dream we had just before waking up is the same one we have when we’re feeling good – it’s the dream opposite of a recurring nightmare. And, the clock always seems to read 7:11 am when we wake before the alarm goes off. We had an intuitive sense that we’d nail the head to foot pose in yoga today, and that craving for kale salad must’ve been because we’re missing our BFF who just moved to Hong Kong and she loves a good kale salad.

We wonder what it would be like if we viewed our life like pardes – an orchard – and regularly thought of each day through the lens of PaRDeSPeshat, Remez, Drash, and Sod to create an orchard of meaning in our lives.  


(to chew on)

The mishkan was a sacred, holy place for God to dwell with the Jewish people. Team SKINNY thinks our homes can be like the mishkan. A “house” is a place where we live, but a “home” conveys warmth and love. Taken further, how can we similarly transcend our homes even more from places of warmth and love to places where holiness resides? What would our home be like if we considered it to be a metaphoric mishkan? Imagine that you’re the lead architect and contractor of your mishkan-home. How would you build it? How would you decorate it to make it a sacred place? How would you act inside it? Discuss at dinner on Friday night (or any other night) and then transform your home into a sacred and holy mishkan-like place.