The secret meaning is the real essence of the Torah teachings. The practical parts of the laws were only necessary so that the light of the Torah could be constricted and conveyed to us, for otherwise we could not bear it, because it would be too much. In the uppermost of the four spiritual worlds, the world of Nearness to God, the Torah is called “Kabbalah”. Is it also called “Pshat.” The simple meaning of the word “Pshat” is just that, “simple meaning.” However, this word comes from the Song of Songs, “Pashat'ti at kutonti” - I have taken off my garment – because in the world of Nearness the Torah is seen as its essence, without the physical garments hiding it. That – adds Rabbi Chaim Vital, the primary student of Arizal – is the main meaning of the word “pshat.”
Adam, the first man, was “working the garden and guarding it.” Working meant doing positive commandments of the Torah, while guarding referred to the negative ones. However, how is this possible? For example, how could he observe “do not plough with an ox and a donkey put together,” if he had no need to plough? The answer is that Adam had to keep the two spiritual husks, one called “ox” and the other “donkey” separate and not allow them to unite. Adam's Torah was Kabbalah.
The Song of Songs said, “The curves of your thighs are like jewels.” The word “curves”, “chamukei” stands for the first letters of a common teaching in the Talmud, “chasurei mechasra v chachi kotani”, which means “the Mishna is missing a phrase here, and here is what it really means.” The words of the Mishnah and Talmud are essentially secret codes, and in these cases the plain meaning had to give way to the necessity of phrasing the rule according to its secret meaning. Understanding these is the goal one should strive for, and it is the meaning of the prayer we say before learning the Talmud, “Unveil my eyes, so that I can perceive wonders from Your Torah.”
Art: Pierre Auguste Renoir - The Garden In The Rue Cortot At Montmartre