Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at beitberl.beitberl.ac.il
Sun Nov 21 02:14:36 EST 1999

Midrash is sometimes a literal commentary (Peshat), but generally "fills
in the gaps", adding things which the Rabbis felt were lacking in the
biblical text (such as what Abraham may have felt when commanded to
sacrifice his son Isaac, or what Cain said to Abel in the field)), or
teaching a homily of moral or religious value.
Even so, I have found the Midrash very useful in my academic work. One
of my papers, of a literary-critical nature,  is even based on midrashim
to the Balaam Narrative. All my students are required to use midrashic
literature, once in their first-year bibliograph course, later on in
their seminar papers.

Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
Beit Berl Post Office 44905

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