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Thoughts on Midrash

Over three years ago I wrote about Midrash on this blog. Today I thought of another analogy -- animation. Quite a while back, the New York Hall of Science had an exhibit on animation. Cartoons are produced by bringing together a number of elements. There are the characters that convey the action -- the plot. There is the background to provide a setting and to indicate movement. There is also the aspect of sound, which is not only a matter of dialogue but of sound effects and music. Now you could have the basic story just told by a character with no background (like on a stage with no scenery) and get the basic gist. But the extra elements add aspects of mood and possible depth to the story.So in the case of pshat in Tanach, we have the basic story line as understood from the text alone. But what the Midrash comes to add is not simply extraneous matter that we would be better off without but like music and backgrounds that enhance the story, bringing out particular nuances of meaning.

The thought that counts for gifts in the Torah

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Chanukah really was the time of gifts over 2,000 years ago when the nesiim of each shevat brought their offerings, and the way they did it tells us much about the Torah perspective on bringing gifts.
I was very impressed by this particular dvar Torah from Rabbi Yissocher Frand. I'm also taken by "herring from New York," as the ultimate standard of luxury. In NY itself, herring is of no account for most kiddushes today, and you'd have to set out sushi platters to really make a statement.   http://www.torah.org/learning/ravfrand/5774/miketz.html
The Torah Readings Of Chanukah the Mishkan was completed on the 25th of Kislev. The actual inauguration of the Mishkan was put off until the first day of Nisan, which is when the Nessiyim started bringing their offerings. But since the Mishkan was actually completed on the 25th of Kislev, we read the section of the Nessiyim on Chanukah, to link the rededication during the Chanukah period with the original dedication of the Mish…