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What Is Midrash?

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What Is Midrash?

A clear explanation of what our Torah’s sacred stories, known as Midrash, are and aren't. This brief overview of the origin and development of Judaism's oral traditions provide clarity on shadowy drama and colorful narratives whose messages are largely misunderstood, and often times ignorantly misconstrued.
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Aggadah, Midrash

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9 Comments
Yitzchok Brooklyn April 24, 2022

Why did Avrohom ovinu challenge Hashem about the fate of sodom and not about the 400 years his children will be slaves in Egypt
There must have been at least 10 tzadik among the 70 people that went down to Egypt

He wasn’t told that they would make errors and needed to be purified what he was told was that his children would be slaves in a foreign land

13And He said to Abram, "You shall surely know that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and oppress them, for four hundred years. יגוַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְאַבְרָ֗ם יָדֹ֨עַ תֵּדַ֜ע כִּי־גֵ֣ר | יִֽהְיֶ֣ה זַרְעֲךָ֗ בְּאֶ֨רֶץ֙ לֹ֣א לָהֶ֔ם וַֽעֲבָד֖וּם וְעִנּ֣וּ אֹתָ֑ם אַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָֽה:

This sounds like decree from Hashem
It doesn’t say if your descendants will sin then they will become slaves
Or slavery is needed to create an am yosroel that will be privileged to receive the Torah
Or what do my descendants need to do to avoid the oppression of 400 years of slavery and change this horrible decree

why didn’t Avrohom ovinu appeal the terrible decree about his descendants as soon as he heard it from Hashem
We see he strenuously appealed the terrible decree that was told to him regarding the evil and wicked Roshoyim of Sodom
Why did he defend Roshyim and not his own seed? Reply

Lee Kelso whitesboro ny February 7, 2021

Rabbi Kaplan, thank you for insightful teaching. I have a question. You spelled "radio" רדיא. Could you please shed some light on how you arrived at this spelling, meaning the א at the end rather than a ו which would then be spelled רדיו (Reish Dalet Yod Vav)? If one consults "Rabbi Google" or any other translation portal/search engine they will find the later translation ending in ו vs א. Reply

Rabbi Mendel Kaplan Thornhill Ontario, February 8, 2021
in response to Lee Kelso:

As a rule non-Hebrew words/or language written in Hebrew characters (ranging from Aramaic to Judeo-Arabic, Ladino to Yiddish) employ a special spelling that supplants the written letter Hey ה with an Aleph א Reply

Sam Spring October 14, 2020

What is the Dead Sea Scrolls reference of the akedia that the rabbi referenced? I would really appreciate a response. Reply

Rabbi Mendel Kaplan thornhill February 8, 2021
in response to Sam:

I heard it directly from the world-renowned expert on the Scrolls, Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman in a private phone conversation -- but never actually saw it myself Reply

Michele Utah February 22, 2020

Thank you for this fine explanation and invitation to serious study. Reply

Steven Loves Park February 10, 2020

Thank you so much for this, Rabbi. I'm an Episcopal seminarian in Chicago, taking a course on the Hebrew Bible. This is a wonderful explanation of the complexity and beauty of midrashim and was very helpful in my studies. Thank you again and may God always bless you. Reply

Mark Solomon New York September 4, 2019

Thank you Rabbi Kaplan. How should one approach learning the Midrashim? What foundational learning is required? Is there a recommended order of study? Reply

Devorah Pittsburgh September 3, 2019

Hi,
This is so fascinating. What is the source for the Gemara that discusses radio, please?
Thank you! Reply

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