The Four Levels of Torah understanding:
1. Peshat - the simple, literal, direct meaning. We were taught as Christians this is the greek - LOGOS. i.e. God literally spoke to a tree.
2. Remez - Through its hint of allusion... the allegorical meaning.
3. Derash - inquire, seek.. Midrashic - through the Rabbinical Sermons comparison, or illustrations, the metaphorical meaning
4. Sod - "secret" or "mystery" - this is the Torat ha Sod - mentioned where we should be by now. This is the MEAT. - through the secret or mystery, the hidden meaning. The mystical or highest part.
Acronym for these 4 levels is P R D S. or PaRDes meaning "Paradise, Orchard"
Torat ha Sod - is the mystical allegory. All visible things , including natural phenomenon have TWO realities.
1. Exoteric Reality - the natural reality....what we see
2. Esoteric Reality - instructs man in that which is invisible....
To the natural mind - anyone on a level ONE understanding of scripture - would think the level FOUR understanding was Foolishness. Each level can only be made GRADUALLY. You can not obtain a LEVEL FOUR (Sod) understanding without first obtaining the Peshat, then the Remez, then the Derash levels. i.e. you can not perform calculus without having first an understanding of mathematics, then of prealgebra, then of algebra. It would be "foolishness" to you.
To get to level four understanding - the mind has to obtain FOUR stages of knowledge - For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. (1 Cor. 13:12) Jews understood the language of the "mirror" they were taught that there are FOUR stages of knowledge:
1. The knowledge of the exterior aspects of things. i.e. the literal view. What you SEE in the natural is all there is to it.
This is considered to the Jews as "The vision through the mirror that projects an indirect light"
2. The knowledge of the ESSENCE of things. "The vision through the mirror that projects a direct light"
3. The knowledge through INTUITIVE REPRESENTATION
4. The knowledge through LOVE. Since the Torah reveals its secrets only to those who love it. The mysteries of God are hidden from the unbeliever. An unbeliever can not read the Torah and get the "Power from the Word" - only someone that loves Gods word can hope to obtain this level of revelation.
THEN... after the knowledge of LOVE..... comes the ECSTATIC states (another 12 levels ha ha ) - which is applied to the MOST HOLY VISIONS - but the point of all this is this is the perspective which Ezekiel, Isaiah, and John, etc, were writing from.
To understand the Jewish writings of our Jewish God - we've got to start looking at the writings from a Jewish Perspective.