מדרש הגדול על פרשת תרומה | Why the Mishkan Resembles the World and the Human Body: a translation of Midrash haGadol on Parashat Terumah, by Shir Yaakov Feit (in memory of Laurie Feit, z”l, 5777/2017)

This translation was prepared by Shir Yaakov Feinstein-Feit in loving memory of his sister, Laurie Feit, z”l, (1961-2017). “Midrash HaGadol or The Great Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש הגדול) is an anonymous late (14th century) compilation of aggadic midrashim on the Pentateuch taken from the two Talmuds and earlier Midrashim of Yemenite provenance. In addition, it borrows quotations from the Targums, and Maimonides[2] and Kabbalistic writings (Oesterley & Box 1920), and in this aspect is unique among the various midrashic collections. This important work—the largest of the midrashic collections—came to popular attention only relatively recently (late 19th century) through the efforts of Jacob Saphir, Solomon Schecter, and David Zvi Hoffman. In addition to containing midrashic material that is not found elsewhere, such as the Mekhilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the Midrash HaGadol contains what are considered to be more correct versions of previously known Talmudic and Midrashic passages.” (via wikipedia) . . .

פֶּרֶק שִׁירָה | Pereq Shirah (Chapter of Song), a litany of verses pronounced in the voice of the creatures and works of Creation

Talmudic and midrashic sources contain hymns of the creation usually based on homiletic expansions of metaphorical descriptions and personifications of the created world in the Bible. The explicitly homiletic background of some of the hymns in Perek Shira indicates a possible connection between the other hymns and Tannaitic and Amoraic homiletics, and suggests a hymnal index to well-known, but mostly unpreserved, homiletics. The origin of this work, the period of its composition and its significance may be deduced from literary parallels. A Tannaitic source in the tractate Hagiga of the Jerusalem (Hag. 2:1,77a—b) and Babylonian Talmud (Hag. 14b), in hymns of nature associated with apocalyptic visions and with the teaching of ma’aseh merkaba serves as a key to Perek Shira’s close spiritual relationship with this literature. Parallels to it can be found in apocalyptic literature, in mystic layers in Talmudic literature, in Jewish mystical prayers surviving in fourth-century Greek Christian composition, in Heikhalot literature, and in Merkaba mysticism. The affinity of Perek Shira with Heikhalot literature, which abounds in hymns, can be noted in the explicitly mystic introduction to the seven crowings of the cock — the only non-hymnal text in the collection — and the striking resemblance between the language of the additions and that of Shi’ur Koma and other examples of this literature. In Seder Rabba de-Bereshit, a Heikhalot tract, in conjunction with the description of ma’aseh bereshit, there is a clear parallel to Perek Shira’s praise of creation and to the structure of its hymns. The concept reflected in this source is based on a belief in the existence of angelic archetypes of created beings who mediate between God and His creation, and express their role through singing hymns. As the first interpretations of Perek Shira also bear witness to its mystic character and angelologic significance, it would appear to be a mystical chapter of Heikhalot literature, dating from late Tannaitic — early Amoraic period, or early Middle Ages. . . .


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