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ERIC Number: EJ891822
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jul
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 38
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0994
The "Place" of Rhetoric in Aggadic Midrash
Metzger, David; Katz, Steven B.
College English, v72 n6 p638-653 Jul 2010
In Rabbinic Judaism, the interpretation of the Torah is a central activity because the Torah is the primordial blueprint for the universe (Kugel 5). The rabbis who made this assertion even translated the first two words of Genesis, "Bereishith Bara", traditionally, "In the beginning," as "With this first thing [the Torah] G/d created the heavens and [...]" To be sure, the TaNaKh prompted questions, but--for the rabbinic community--the TaNaKh also was the resource--and as everyone will see, literally a "place", and on several levels--from which they would draw the answers to those questions. In rabbinic hermeneutics, the act of forming and responding to these questions is called "midrash", from a biblical Hebrew word "darash," which means "to seek" or "to ask" (Strack and Stemberger 234; Holtz 178). The term "midrash" is also used to identify the "texts" (whether oral or written) and the collections of texts by which these rabbinical acts of interpretation are preserved and transmitted. What is more, as the rabbinic canon (known as the Oral Torah to distinguish it from the TaNaKh, the Written Torah that preceded it) developed to include texts other than the TaNaKh, the interpretation of those texts (the Mishnah and Talmud, for example) also came to be called midrash. It is customary to identify two general categories of midrash. There is "halakhic" midrash, which concerns behavioral codes and laws (both civil and religious). And there is "aggadic" midrash, a general category that subsumes rabbinic narratives, aphorisms, and parables. This essay is restricted to an examination of aggadic midrash as a particular mode of Jewish rhetoric. The results of this general discussion will then be focused and, in some measure, tested by a reading of particular midrashim (in this case, two stories preserved in the midrashic collection "Lamentations Rabbah"). And finally, this investigation itself will take a midrashic and aggadic turn in order to address the difficult question, "what is the place of Jewish rhetoric (s)?" (Contains 11 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A