The Rabbis of old believed that the Torah was divinely revealed and therefore contained eternal, perfect truths and hidden meaning that required elucidation. The meaning of a text was more complicated than simply reading it. And meaning changed over time. This understanding of how the Bible mystically relates to all of life is the fertile ground from which midrash emerged.
"The rabbis believed that nothing in the Bible, not the choice of words or their spellings, not the order of events or the relationship of one text to another, was haphazard or inconsequential. Everything was there with purpose. They deemed it their reponsibility to discover connections and harmony where on the surface none appeared to exist. A text may contain multiple meanings. Time is of no consequence. They felt free to read back into old stories what happened in future eras, and to see in the early stories of Genesis a foreshadowing of future events."
In this engaging book, Rabbi Sasso explores how midrash originated, how it is still used today, and offers new translations and interpretations of more than twenty essential midrash texts.
|This small book has high hopes. On one level, it is an introduction to midrash, the ancient rabbinic exploration of scripture. On a more profound level, it guides us to see our own human struggles inside the writings of the sages. On a personal level, it encourages us to find ways to add our own reflections and wisdom to that of our ancestors. The heart of this book is ten chapters, each presenting a series of midrashim around a common theme: anger, responsibility, loving the stranger, hope. Each chapter opens by briefly setting the stage for the classical midrashim that follow. Sasso's explanations connect the musings of the rabbis with our own experience. She closes each chapter with a personal reflection, which models how we might continue the dialogue with the sages and with scripture within our own lives. Sasso is a prolific writer of children's books that sensitively address serious spiritual issues. She brings her storytelling expertise to bear as she explores the writings of the rabbis. I recommend this book as an introduction to the midrash, as a text suitable for reflection, or as a tool for adult education.|
|Congregational Libraries Today|