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(mĭd`räsh) [Heb.,=to examine, to investigate], verse by verse interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures, consisting of homily and exegesis, by Jewish teachers since about 400 B.C. Distinction is made between Midrash halakahhalakah
or halacha
[Heb.,=law], in Judaism, the body of law regulating all aspects of life, including religious ritual, familial and personal status, civil relations, criminal law, and relations with non-Jews.
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, dealing with the legal portions of Scripture, and Midrash haggada, dealing with biblical lore. Midrashic exposition of both kinds appears throughout the TalmudTalmud
[Aramaic from Heb.,=learning], in Judaism, vast compilation of the Oral Law with rabbinical elucidations, elaborations, and commentaries, in contradistinction to the Scriptures or Written Laws. The Talmud is the accepted authority for Orthodox Jews everywhere.
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. Individual midrashic commentaries were composed by rabbis after the 2d cent. A.D. up to the Middle Ages, and they were mostly of an aggadic nature, following the order of the scriptural text. Important among them are the Midrash Rabbah, a collection of commentaries on the Torah and the Five Scrolls (the Song of Songs, Esther, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes), and the Pesikta Midrashim, concerning the festivals. This body of rabbinic literature contains the earliest speculative thought in the Jewish tradition.


See H. L. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (1931, repr. 1969); L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Bible (1956); N. N. Glatzer, Hammer on the Rock (1962).

References in periodicals archive ?
Hence, comparing the story in the Asatir to Jewish midrashim on Genesis 11 is to compare apples and oranges.
Perhaps the rabbis who wrote midrashim could be considered the first Jewish fiction writers, using stories to better understand their world and morality.
I suspect that the ancient midrashim made this very point.
The authors of these midrashim regarded such deviations as pregnant with meaning, and ripe for interpretations which might uncover the Biblical roots of postbiblical practices, thereby answering the enduring question about the origins of such practices: "How do we know this?
It should be noted that Ruth Rabbah is one of the older extant Midrashim and, like the Midrash Tanhuma, itself one of the earlier Midrashim, was compiled in Israel.
This interpretation was criticized in certain midrashim.
The Pesikta deRav Kahana (PRK) is one of the oldest of the homiletic Midrashim, commentaries on the Torah.
The material he uses is found among other places in the Targums, Midrashim, Mishneh, the Talmud, Philo's writings, and the Dead Sea scrolls.
Her refusal to comply may have arisen out of modesty, defense of the rights of women, insolence, or solicitude for her own guests; in any case, she doesn't deserve disgrace, and certainly not the death penalty that some midrashim, including the earlier portion of the first midrash cited above, interpret as her fate.
The new layers of meaning that emerged, some of them alluded to in later biblical texts and some in midrashim, are mostly ignored by mainstream Jewish interpretations of the Eden story.
But the most recent generation has widened our field of interest to seriously investigate also the later Midrashim from medieval times.
Goldin uses Crusade chronicles midrashim, memorial books and prayers, and accounts by Christian observers to construct his explanations.