Simi Peters Learning to Read Midrash

ISBN 13: 9789657108574

Learning to Read Midrash

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9789657108574: Learning to Read Midrash
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Presenting a systematic approach to the study of midrash, each of the readings featured in this book attempts to reconstruct the reasoning behind midrashic commentary on biblical narrative. The study begins by defining what midrash is, discussing why it can be so difficult to understand, and explaining how the Jewish sages used midrash to interpret biblical text. It then explores two genres of midrash—the parable and the midrashic story—and utilizes detailed readings to demonstrate how to “translate” the language of the sages into contemporary terminology. Among the texts analyzed in the book are some of the most fascinating and complex biblical stories, including the binding of Isaac, the sin of David and Bathsheba, the book of Jonah, and Moses and the burning bush. This study conveys a sensitivity to the language and meanings of the Hebrew Bible and helps readers develop an appreciation for the language and teachings of the Jewish sages.

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About the Author:

Simi Peters is on the faculty of Nishmat: The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women, the Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions, and Darchei Bina Seminary. She also serves as a text consultant for the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America’s Ethical Start Pirkei Avot Curriculum Project.

Review:

I have found the author's analytical approach to the various midrashim fascinating, insightful and in keeping with a true Torah perspective.... I highly recommend this work (Learning to Read Midrash) for those who want to devise a method for studying Midrash that will bring them both to a deeper understanding of the Midrash and, ultimately, to a greater closeness with Hashem .... --Rabbi Zev Leff (Rabbi Zev Leff is the Rabbi of Moshav Matityahu and the Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshiva Gevoha Matityahu)

Learning to Read Midrash is interesting on many levels. Firstly, it makes us aware of the fact that midrash is not simply 'stories', but rather a sophisticated branch within rabbinic literature. Even people familiar with midrashic sources may have difficulty defining exactly what midrash is, or seeing the connection between a particular midrash and the Biblical text it discusses. There has been until now little guidance on how to approach midrash systematically. But here we have a well-done presentation of a series of 16 explicated readings along with a presentation of the basics of a methodology for approaching these texts. Those who go through the very readable material will find themselves participating in a welcomed 'training program' in reading midrash, gaining new important insights into Hazal's words.

Second, the volume is another contribution to the growing Torah literature written by knowledgeable women and scholars. Simi Peters is on the faculty of Darchei Bina Seminary and Nishmat - the Jerusalem Center for Advanced Jewish Studies for Women, which has pioneered in training women to have expertise in halacha and advanced rabbinic literature. Women students now have models of women teachers to inspire them to gain proficiency in sophisticated Torah study. --Prof. Oscar Mohl, The Jewish Press

Maimonides exhorted readers not to take midrash literally, but was also forceful in advising people to read carefully between the lines, to find the meaning and allegorical intent.

His brief recommendations have been significantly expanded in Simi Peters's book, Learning to Read Midrash.

Peters's book comes after years of teaching the Hebrew Bible and trying to make sense of rabbinic literature that often defies explication. She bemoans the fact that it was difficult to offer students the tools to study midrash independently. This book seems to be a corrective for that problem.

Learning to Read Midrash begins by outlining the difficulties that both students and teachers have in communicating what it is that midrash does, and the varied methodologies it employs. Some of the problems she identifies are: the often-tenuous connection between midrash and the biblical text, the seeming implausibility of many midrashim, and the dearth of words used to articulate a problem or insight.

Broadly put, midrash does not have a singular goal.

As Peters eloquently puts it: 'Midrash explores the biblical text exhaustively, seeking both the plain sense of the text and its homiletical possibilities, without distinguishing rigidly between them.'

In order to affirm this statement, Peters spends some pages discussing the difference between pshat (the literal reading of a text) and drash (a homiletical reading) and some of the more 'rigid' distinctions that are embodied in other forms of biblical commentary. She includes the clever witticism of the late Professor Nechama Leibowitz: 'Pshat is what I say, and drash is what you say.'

The chapters that follow the introduction present specific midrashic topics - the mashal or allegory, the peticha or opening verse, the treatment of biblical personalities, and break down midrashim so the reader may better understand how to analyze them.

Unlike more academic guides, Peters's book is pedagogically grounded. A teacher may find him- or herself using the chapters as classroom units to study various types of midrash - from analyzing biblical dialogue to resolving textual discrepancies.

The book's scholarship should speak for itself, and the fact that Peters is an effective educator leaps off every page. --Erica Brown, Jerusalem Post

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Book Description Urim Publications, Israel, 2005. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Presenting a systematic approach to the study of midrash, each of the readings featured in this book attempts to reconstruct the reasoning behind midrashic commentary on biblical narrative. The study begins by defining what midrash is, discussing why it can be so difficult to understand, and explaining how the Jewish sages used midrash to interpret biblical text. It then explores two genres of midrash the parable and the midrashic story and utilizes detailed readings to demonstrate how to translate the language of the sages into contemporary terminology. Among the texts analyzed in the book are some of the most fascinating and complex biblical stories, including the binding of Isaac, the sin of David and Bathsheba, the book of Jonah, and Moses and the burning bush. This study conveys a sensitivity to the language and meanings of the Hebrew Bible and helps readers develop an appreciation for the language and teachings of the Jewish sages. Seller Inventory # AAG9789657108574

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Book Description Urim Publications, Israel, 2005. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Presenting a systematic approach to the study of midrash, each of the readings featured in this book attempts to reconstruct the reasoning behind midrashic commentary on biblical narrative. The study begins by defining what midrash is, discussing why it can be so difficult to understand, and explaining how the Jewish sages used midrash to interpret biblical text. It then explores two genres of midrash the parable and the midrashic story and utilizes detailed readings to demonstrate how to translate the language of the sages into contemporary terminology. Among the texts analyzed in the book are some of the most fascinating and complex biblical stories, including the binding of Isaac, the sin of David and Bathsheba, the book of Jonah, and Moses and the burning bush. This study conveys a sensitivity to the language and meanings of the Hebrew Bible and helps readers develop an appreciation for the language and teachings of the Jewish sages. Seller Inventory # AAG9789657108574

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