“Midrash” is a term with rich connotations in Jewish tradition, referring to a mode of rabbinic literature that seeks to interpret and expound upon the biblical texts. The word itself comes from the Hebrew root “דרש” (darash), which means “to seek, study, inquire”. A Midrash is thus essentially an inquiry into the deeper meanings of the Hebrew Scriptures that enriches the understanding of the Bible, bridges the gap between ancient text and contemporary life, and continues to be a source of inspiration and study in Jewish learning.
There are many compilations of Midrashim, each with its own style and focus. Some of the most famous collections include Midrash Rabbah (to the Pentateuch and Five Megillot), Tanchuma, and Pirkei De Rabbi Eliezer. Each of these works contains a mixture of legal interpretation and narrative enrichment.
Midrashim are not homogeneous; they often contain multiple opinions and interpretations for the same text, reflecting the dynamic and diverse nature of Jewish thought and the principle that “there are seventy faces to the Torah” (Bamidbar_Rabbah 13:15), meaning that the Torah can be interpreted in many valid ways.
The Midrash on Sefaria