Midrash

Teacher: Levi Cooper

Level: Intermediate

Description: The Jewish People are not the People of the Book; we are the People of the Midrash. More than any other work, it is the Midrash that fashions Jewish collective consciousness and makes us who we are today. This path-breaking course will crack open the creative world of Midrash.

We will explore different genres of Midrash, the historical and geographical background of Midrash, the interplay between Aggada and Halakha, the relationship of the rabbis towards Midrash Aggada, how the sages presented philosophical ideas, the continuum between Peshat and Derash, and more. In the course of our study, we will develop working definitions of key terms, such as Midrash, Aggada, Aggadata, Halakha.

The aim of the class is to understand the literary genre, to facilitate engagement with different midrashic and aggadic texts, to develop an appreciation of the genre and its goals, and to empower students to be able to begin to study Midrash independently.

Texts will all be in Hebrew (with a smattering of Aramaic and a dash of Greek).

In addition to the texts studied in class, each student will embark upon a supplementary on a self-study project, choosing a specific Midrash to learn throughout the semester.

What you will need to bring to class:
Notebook and folder for handouts
A Midrash of your choice
recommended: Hebrew/English dictionary