Thursday, December 18, 2008

Commentaries to Midrash - Recommendations, anyone?

Rav Tzair has a an excellent series of posts that analyse the conceptual basis underlying a Midrash of the weekly Parshah. Thanks to him, I now set aside some time every week to study Midrash. The commentarues on the page are usually good for deciphering the basic meaning of the text but very rarely go beyond that.

I know Saul Lieberman has an edition of Midrash Rabbah published by Mossad R' Kook [? - or so I thought, actually by Harry Fischel] but I'ven never seen it [Found it on Otzar HaChochmo thanks to andy - introduction + notes , he is at his most useful when explaining an obscure Greek term] so I don't know what its about. There are critical editions of a few chapters of different Midrashim created as doctoral dissertation but I don't know if any of these have been published. From the traditional sphere, Midrashim are fodder for drash and so their p'shat aspect is very rarely explored. Is the notes to Kasher's Torah Sheleimah worth looking into? How about Ginzberg's Legends, there must be valuable material in the notes there?

So, has anyone got any recommendations?

11 comments:

Chanokh said...

It depends on what midrash. On midrashei halacha, from a pshat perspective, the Malbim is incredible. On Midrashei aggada, of course you have very valuable elements in the Maharal's Beer haGolah. The Radal on Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer is useful, though it might be sometimes a bit too yeshivish and kabbalistic for your taste. The Yaffe Toar on Midrash Rabba (the whole one published in 7 vol., not the kitsur in the standard Vilna) is very good too. The Torah Shelemah is a wondrous work, especially the miluim, but I don't think you can do a seder on that.
But, from my experience in teaching midrash, ultimately the standard peirushim are never enough. They clarify the mehalekh, but they don't give you the meaning. You have to work with your sekhel to make sense of it in a way that it intellectually coherent and meaningful. After all, it's limud. It's a tool to work on yourself.
The Shlah has a very useful, if somewhat overwhelming, list of questions you have to ask when you read a midrash. It's printed at the beginning of the Vilna MR.

Moti said...

For Breishit Rabbah, Teodor and Albeck, published a critical edition.

For myself, I get what I need from the commentary Eitz Yoseph, as newly and clearly typeset in the recent Moznaim edition of Medrash Rabbah.

Yitzhak said...

Kasher is wonderful. Particularly useful is his gathering of cognate Medrashim, and I also ofter find his analysis to be excellent.

Anonymous said...

How about the Merkin commentary to Rabba, published by Dvir, an Israeli publishing company?

Elitzur said...

A publisher I hadn't heard of before (Z'kan Aharon) recently put out a Pirkei D'R' Elazar and a Midrash Tanchuma (both standard and the Buber edition as one set) with a range of traditional commentaries including Radal, R' Chaim Palagi, etc. I only have the Pirkei D'R' Elazar which in the introduction says something to this effect: we've seen there are lots of manuscripts with different texts and we decided to go with Radal's 'cause he's a great man.
- sigh, oh well...

Elitzur said...

A publisher I hadn't heard of before (Z'kan Aharon) recently put out a Pirkei D'R' Elazar and a Midrash Tanchuma (both standard and the Buber edition as one set) with a range of traditional commentaries including Radal, R' Chaim Palagi, etc. I only have the Pirkei D'R' Elazar which in the introduction says something to this effect: we've seen there are lots of manuscripts with different texts and we decided to go with Radal's 'cause he's a great man.
- sigh, oh well...

Chanokh said...

I have an ambiguous feeling about Zikhron Aharon's Midrashim editions. The PRE has all the mefarshim, so it's really useful. The text is in no way critical, but the put a fac simile of the dfus rishon at the end, so it's good to have. The Tanchuma has all the mefarshim also, plus the whole text of the Tanchuma Buber with Buber's introduction, so it's very nice too, but it seems they didn't follow the traditional paragraph division, which is cumbersome when you're looking for a reference.
They also put out a Lekach Tov, but there's nothing more in it than in the standard Buber.They're also preparing an edition of the Pesiktot, the Sekhel Tov and the Midrash Aggada.
And Radal really is a great man.

Wolf2191 said...

Thank you all!

avakesh said...

Some posts on midrashic methodology can be found here

http://www.aishdas.org/midrash/

Michael P. said...

The notes to Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews are an indispensable source for one who wants to look further into a specific midrashic tradition. Also see this syllabus.

Anonymous said...

well.. it's like I thought!

 
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