From the Archives of Tradition

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tradition-cabinetby R. Yitzchak Blau

Some biblical commentators are willing to distinguish between peshat and derash in narrative sections in Humash but will not do so when explaining legal sections. Given the care with which we transmit our halakhic tradition, we can appreciate their motivation. Nonetheless, Yeshayahu Maori, longtime professor at the University of Haifa, argues that this distinction does not reflect the mainstream approach among our most prominent meforshim. Working with the assumption that a text can function on multiple levels, commentaries suggested peshat interpretations that do not align with halakhic midrash. Along with not rejecting a peshat perspective regarding legal material, Prof. Maori calls for not ignoring midrashic approaches to narrative. Note his two excellent examples towards the end of the essay in which he cites midrashim that do not reflect the simple reading of the verse in question but bear great significance for our understanding of the larger stories.

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About Yitzchak Blau

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau is Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Orayta and also teaches at Midreshet Lindenbaum. He is the author of Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine: The Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada and an Associate Editor of Tradition.

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