Some extra thoughts of my own on comments in my previous post:
“Yet, we must be very careful not to reduce Torah-study to a merely intellectual pursuit.”
Our purpose in Torah-study is not only to understand the text in all its levels of meaning. Understanding the text is simply a first step.
“What is God saying to me, personally, right now, through this reading?”
We can ask this of ourselves quietly. We need not share it with anyone.
In group or class study, I’ve sometimes felt that members were reaching for the smartest or wittiest comment or question. No such refinements are needed when talking to or hearing from God. Only sincerity is requested.
Without denying the importance of understanding the text — and being familiar with some of the midrashim associated with it — I suggest that Torah-study is also an intimate, personal conversation between God and ourselves.
Why make this assumption?
“Everything is in the hands of Heaven…” — even the particular verse, or comment, or midrash, that you are reading in a given moment. God does nothing without purpose. There’s a reason why you are reading the specific selection on this very day, at this very moment.
“Midrash and commentary can clarify or expand the meaning of a verse for us. But in the end — we must relate to it personally.”
What does the reading have to do with you personally?
Does it suggest something about yourself to you — either directly or by a kind of “free association”?
What might you do differently as a result of this? Is there an action, or a thought, or a belief that you might modify or change in some way?
“This is ‘intuitive understanding’.”
Rather than trying to answer the original suggestion of personal meaning by some sort of mental effort, try allowing an answer to come to you.
What comes spontaneously?
“Let God speak to you.”
This is an intimate, personal communication between you and God — your own Divine essence. You need not share it with anyone. It is given to you in love, for you alone.
Can it then be re-told to a group? It’s your choice, but again: What God gives you is often for you alone.