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Adult Ed: Midrash

05/05/2021 01:55:28 PM


This week we'll be writing our own Midrashim!

You may pick any piece of Tanakh you wish for your jumping off point, but since the Tanakh is a voluminous text, here are a few offerings to start off with:

  • Genesis 12:1-4: This is the first time we see God interact with Abram. All we know at this point is basic biographical information about Abram: his father, brother, and wife; where he was born and where he lives at the time of this call. We don't know anything about what God's been up to since the generation of the Tower of Babel. What's the backstory for either God and Abram, and how did they come to the Lech Lecha moment?
  • Exodus 4:24-26: Who is God seeking to kill on Moses's way from Midian to Egypt and why? What is a "bridegroom of blood"?
  • Numbers 22-23 (whole chapters): God asks Balaam "What do these people want of you?" Balaam is a non-Jewish prophet from the pagan lands to the east of Canaan. How is it God knows to come to him but doesn't already know what he has been asked to do? When Balaam sets out to curse the Israelites despite God's commandment not to, his donkey admonishes him. Why does God bother to use the donkey this way, when God has already come to Balaam directly? Why does Balaam listen to the donkey when he didn't initially listen to God?
  • Judges 11:12-27; 11:30-40: Two separate issues in this chapter. Jephthah/Yiftach acts confused as to the Ammonites waging war and claims the Israelites did not take land from the Ammonites, but then goes on to explain how God led them into battle with the Ammonites on their way into Israel and granted them success in capturing the land from the Ammonites. So he does admit that they took the land from the Ammonites, he just insists that it was justified! Why say it didn't happen the first time?! Secondly, Jephthah/Yiftach vows to sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his house to God if God leads him successfully in the latest battle against the Ammonites. How could Yiftach not foresee a PERSON would be more likely to come out of his house to greet him? Was he hoping it would be his wife instead of his daughter? Did he think his sheep would run out of his house to greet him?
  • II Kings 2:23-25: Elisha's second act as senior prophet in Israel after Elijah is taken up in the fiery chariot is to summon bears to mangle children who made fun of him for being bald. Then the chapter ends and there's absolutely no response from the children's parents or from God or anything. I don't even know where to begin with the potential questions and Midrash fodder here.
  • Psalm 23: Starts out addressing God in the third person and switches to the second person about half way through. What's the deal with that?

If you have others to add to the list, let me know ahead of Sunday and I'll add them to share with everyone!

Sat, May 28 2022 27 Iyyar 5782