Ten Bible Stories You Thought You Knew – Introduction to Rabbinic Midrash

The sages of the Rabbinic period shaped the way the Jewish tradition looks at the Bible. Their manner of interpretation is known as midrash. This course seeks to provide the student with the tools: textual, historical, religious and literary to explore the rabbinic interpretation of Scripture. This will be accomplished through the examination of how the rabbinic sages interpreted key stories in the Bible. The text reading will be examined both in Hebrew and in English translation.

Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash – It Is All A Matter Of Words

It is all a matter of words Rabbinic interpretation or “midrash” is founded upon the presumption that the sages saw themselves as the heirs of the Oral Torah, known in Hebrew as Torah sh’baal peh” and that this oral tradition itself had been transmitted by God along with the Written Torah – Torah sh’bihktav. At […]

Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash – Midrash In Three Steps

Midrash in 3 Steps Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein Here is a three step method to facilitate the process of studying midrash: 1. Searching out the question in the Biblical texts that prompts the midrash 2. Understanding the answer found in the midrash 3. Deriving the message of the midrash Whenever we take a look at a […]

Avraham And The Idol Shop – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

What is Midrash? – The Story of Abraham and the Idol Shop Lesson 1  1a. Who is Abraham? The Biblical Evidence כו וַיְחִי-תֶרַח, שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה; וַיּוֹלֶד, אֶת-אַבְרָם, אֶת-נָחוֹר, וְאֶת-הָרָן. כז וְאֵלֶּה, תּוֹלְדֹת תֶּרַח–תֶּרַח הוֹלִיד אֶת-אַבְרָם, אֶת-נָחוֹר וְאֶת-הָרָן; וְהָרָן, הוֹלִיד אֶת-לוֹט. כח וַיָּמָת הָרָן, עַל-פְּנֵי תֶּרַח אָבִיו, בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹלַדְתּוֹ, בְּאוּר כַּשְׂדִּים. כט וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָם וְנָחוֹר לָהֶם, […]

The Slaying Of Abel By Cain – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 2 – The Slaying of Abel by Cain Read carefully through the story of the confrontation between Cain and Abel. As you will note below, we are going to focus on a single sentence in this story. In this sentence, we will see the midrash focusing on a number of different issues in the […]

The Significance Of Abraham – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 3 – More on the Significance of Abraham The Source from the Torah בראשית פרק יב א) וַיֹּאמֶר יְקֹוָק אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ: (ב) וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ וֶהְיֵה בְּרָכָה: (ג) וַאֲבָרֲכָה מְבָרְכֶיךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה: (ד) וַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָם כַּאֲשֶׁר […]

The Sins Of Sodom And Gemorrah – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 4 – The Sins of Sodom and Gemorrah Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein The Conservative Yeshiva You will not find in this lesson a catalogue of the variety of possible sins which may or may not have been committed by the people of Sodom. Instead, what we will focus on is two verses, no, in fact, […]

Akedat Yitzhak (The Binding Of Isaac) – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 5 – Akedat Yitzhak (The Binding of Isaac) Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein The Conservative Yeshiva, Jerusalem This most significant of religious stories is at the center of Jewish religious life, yet in terms of length and detail it is miniscule – a mere 19 sentences. The very fact that the story is laconic lends itself […]

The Heroism Of Mordechai And Esther – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 6 – The Heroism of Mordechai and Esther Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein The Conservative Yeshiva – Jerusalem Purim is upon us and it is time for a midrash or two to celebrate. In this lesson, we will try to discover a little about what the sages saw in Modechai and Esther to rank them as […]

The Tribulations Of Amalek – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 7 – The Tribulations of Amalek Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein The Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem The tribe of Amalek has become for the Jewish tradition the symbol of all that is considered demonic. The Torah prescribes that the tribe be both annihilated, on the one hand, and remembered for its dastardly acts, on the other. […]

The Burning Bush – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 8 – The Burning Bush Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein The Conservative Yeshiva, Jerusalem The Torah The Torah source is found in Exodus chapter 3. Take a few moments to review the entire story as it is found in the Torah. Here I am only going to cite the relevant portion. שמות פרק ג (א) וּמֹשֶׁה […]

The Struggle Over Who Would Enter The Sea – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 9 – The Struggle Over Who Would Enter the Sea Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein The Conservative Yeshiva, Jerusalem This lesson will take up the events which happened at the sea when the children of Israel were faced on one side by the army of Pharaoh and the sea of the other. What were the people […]

The Four Sons Of The Haggadah – Introduction To Rabbinic Midrash

Lesson 10 – The Four Sons of the Haggadah Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein The Conservative Yeshiva, Jerusalem Midrash is a crucial element of the Passover Haggadah since the telling of the story of the redemption from Egypt is central to the seder night as we know it. The midrash of the Four Sons is one of […]