One central issue for everyone who desires to walk humbly with God is how we understand scripture. I know ליש would be interested in defining which texts are considered "scripture", but for now I'm speaking generally.
There are many questions that arise when we approach these texts. Broadly we may want to know what these ancient texts mean for us today. Naturally, we come with our own assumptions. Some approach them from a critical perspective, attempting to dissect the texts as one would any other ancient text. On the other side, there are those who see it as the eternal Word of God and there is no room for modern critical analysis.
I personally sit somewhere in between. I believe God spoke to people and they wrote it down. I also believe that these human writers were writing in a cultural context. In addition, there is the issue of transmission and questions of scribal errors or additions, but I'm not addressing these right now.
The issue I want to raise is the importance of context. I disagree strongly with the classical Rabbinic approach, in which a verse or phrase can be used to prove their point based on the use of a particular word. Their approach is founded on the assumption that there is no past of future with God's Word. Since it is eternal context is irrelevant. I believe it is dangerous to "pluck" a line out of context to prove a point. Beyond a cultural context there is the immediate textual context. Writers are expressing certain thoughts and we need to try to understand the train of thought. For example, I could use two different phrases in Shaul's letter to the Galations to "prove" opposite ideas. Therefore, when I discuss my understanding of something and I want to show how it is expressed in a particular passage I'll quote it while trying to keep in mind the textual context. I also judge individual thoughts arising from a certain passage against the larger picture I see in scripture.
One significant phrase, for example, which in my opinion has been taken out of context, that influences our daily life in Israel is Ex. 34: 26b: לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו Do not boil a kid in his mother's milk.
Just according to my own logic I've never thought that the intention was eating a cheeseburger. It definitely is not referring to a cream soup with a chicken broth base.
I've read articles examining possible parallels to cultic practices in other ancient cultures to explain what this might mean. In my opinion the textual context tells us a lot, and I only paid attention to this recently.
This commandment is given after instructions regarding the three pilgrim festivals (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot). [note: As I continued to read the parashot I realized that this same commandment is given again, Deut. 14:21, in the context of which animals should and should not be eaten.]
V. 25 "Do not slaughter with a fermented thing the blood of My sacrifice; and the sacrifice of the feast of the passover shall not remain till morning:"
V. 26 "the first of the first-fruits of the land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God; Do not boil a kid in its mother's milk."
It is clear from the context, at least to me, that this is not a general command regarding meat and dairy. The previous commandments very specifically refer to aspects of different festivals. Logic would say that "boiling a kid in his mother's milk" would fit in this same category. Granted I still do not understand the connection and background to this commandment, but I believe based on context alone we can say with a high degree of certainty that it is related to a cultic practice.
My point with this example is that context is vital for proper interpretation. As soon as we read and try to understand any text we interpret it. I don't believe we can be one hundred percent objective, but my hope is that we strive for it.