Recently Added to Sacred-Texts Sacred


Recently Added to Sacred-Texts

Sacred Texts is a site dedicated to sacred texts of the world. And today I stumbled across a small gem--Tales and Maxims from the Midrash. The text has a few problems because there are a number of hebrew words that do no show in txt or html. However, take a look at the Midrash Song of Songs. I particularly liked:

From Tales and Maxims from the Midrash [this is presented out of order because I liked it best, and if I am to keep your attention for only a moment, let it be with the excerpt immediately following] Rabbi Simeon b. Jochuah made it a point to cement affection between man and wife. A man came to him once from Sidon and asked him to grant him a divorce from his wife, as his ten years of conjugal bliss had brought him no offspring. The wise Rabbi, who read impulsiveness in the man's character, told him to go home and make a sort of a feast in commemoration of the coming event. 'I see no reason,' he said, 'why, a divorce should not be celebrated in some way, similar to the tying of the marriage knot.' The man, in expectation of his approaching freedom, was right glad of the opportunity of making merry, and gave a banquet; and being in good spirits be said to his wife: 'See, I am prepared to give you the most valuable thing in my house to take with you if you offer no obstacle to our divorce, and will return to your father's house.' When, after the banquet, he fell into a deep slumber, she got her servants to carry him to her father's house, whither she went herself. On awakening and finding himself in the house of the man with whom he was about to sever his relationship he asked his wife who was by his side the meaning of all this. 'I have done nothing against your expressed wish,' said his spouse it was only last evening that you offered me the most precious thing in your house.' The man was very much touched by this manifestation of true affection on the part of his wife, and when they appeared again before the Rabbi the following day, the sly sage could not conceal a smile as he asked the man what he could do for him. 'My wife and I have come to ask your prayers on our behalf, so that the Lord may grant us an heir or heirs.' The good man prayed to God to grant their desire, if in his wisdom it seemed good for them, and the couple did not remain childless for very many days.--Mid. Songs 1.

Moses, Aaron and Miriam died by having their souls drawn out by God's kiss. 1--Mid. Songs 1.

What wisdom considers to be her very crown, meekness looks upon as her mere sandal.--Mid. Songs 1.

Do not look upon a parable or simile lightly, for some difficult passages of Scripture may be explained through them; just as one may find anything lost in a dark place by the aid of a candle.--Mid. Songs 1.

The Torah has been compared to wine, water, oil, and honey and milk. Just as we find water all over the earth's surface, so do we find the Torah; water will never cease from this globe, neither will God's laws cease. Water comes from the heavens, and the Torah came from heaven. There is a noise when water descends, and the Torah descended amidst thunders. Water quickens the thirsty soul; so does the Torah quicken him who is thirsty for knowledge. Water cleanses impurities, and God's laws do the same. Water coming down by drops can form a river; so if a man acquires Torah bit by bit he may eventually become a great scholar. Water, unless one is thirsty, cannot be drunk with any degree of pleasure; in the same way, unless one has a craving for the Torah, its study, if enforced, will become a burden. Water runs from high places and seeks the lower portions of the earth; so the Torah will not remain with the haughty man, but rather seeks out the lowly. Water is not kept in golden or silver vessels, but is best kept in earthenware; so the Torah will not be retained except by him who is meek of spirit. A man of distinction will not think it beneath his dignity to ask for water from the meanest individual, neither is any one too great to despise instruction from the most insignificant person. One may drown in water if one cannot swim; so, unless one possesses a thorough knowledge of the Torah and all its meanings, one may be drowned in it. But it may be said that water gets stale if kept for a time in a vessel, and that the same should apply to the Torah. Remember therefore that it is also likened to wine, which improves with age. Again, water leaves no trace on him who tastes it, and the same, it might be said, must be the case with the Torah. But here again we must remember the comparison of the Torah to wine. just as wine has a visible effect on one who drinks it, so the studious man is at once known when one looks at him. Water does not rejoice the heart, and it might be concluded that the same is true of the Torah; hence it is likened to wine, since each rejoices the heart. Yet wine is sometimes injurious; not so the Torah, which is compared with oil. As oil is capable of anointing any part of the human body, so is the Torah an anointment to its possessor. But oil again has a bitter taste before it is purified; is this, then, equally true of the Torah? No; for the Torah is compared to milk and honey, each of which has an agreeable taste, while when blended they have healing properties as well as sweetness.--Mid. Songs 1.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 25, 2003 8:38 AM.

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