Sunday, June 9, 2013

One-Law Midrashim

Before we look at two classic midrashim, note that if it weren't for the Torah, Israel would be no different than all of the other nations:

"Yet for all that, in spite of their sins, when they have been in the lands of their enemies, I have not rejected them utterly' (Lev. XXVI, 44).  All the goodly gifts that were given them were taken from them.  And if it had not been for the Book of the Law which was left to them, they would not have differed at all from the nations of the world.  (Sifra 112c.)"


MIDRASH #1:  The Torah is for Man

"R. Jeremiah said:  Whence can you know that a Gentile who practices the Law is equal to the High Priest?  Because it says, 'Which if a man do, he shall live through them' (Lev. XVIII, 5).  And it says, 'This is the Law [Torah] of man' (II Sam. VII, 19).  It does not say:  'The Law of Priests, Levites, Israelites,' but, 'This is the Law of man, O Lord God.'  And it does not say, 'Open the gates, and let the Priests and Levites and Israel enter,' but it says, 'Open the gates that a righteous Gentile may enter' (Isa. XXVI, 2); and it says, 'This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter it.'  It does not say, 'The Priests and the Levites and Israel shall enter it' but it says, 'The righteous shall enter it' (Ps. CXVIII, 20).  And it does not say, 'Rejoice ye, Priests and Levites and Israelites,' but it says, 'Rejoice ye righteous' (Ps. XXXIII, I).  And it does not say, 'Do good, O Lord, to the Priests and the Levites and the Israelites,' but it says, 'Do good, O Lord, to the good' (Ps. CXXV, 4).  So even a Gentile, if he practises the Law, is equal to the High Priest. (Sifra 86b (cp. San. 59a (cp. [418]; Bab.K. 38a).)", (pg. 564, A Rabbinic Anthology)

MIDRASH #2:  The Nations Will See the Wisdom of the Torah and Pursue It

" 'They shall call the peoples unto the mountain; there shall they offer righteous sacrifices' (Deut. XXXIII, 19).  The peoples and their kings will come together on business to Palestine, and they will say, 'Since we have troubled ourselves to come hither, let us look at the business of the Jews, and what its nature is,' and so they will go to Jerusalem, and they will observe how Israel worships One God only, and eats one sort of food only, while of the nations, each worships different gods, and the food of one is not the food of the other, and they will say, 'It is well to join this people,' and they will not budge from Jerusalem until they are made proselytes, and they will offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.  (Sifre Deut., Berakah, [subsection] 354, f. 147a (cp. Moore, I, 336, n. I).)", (pg. 564-565, ibid)
For those who are new to this blog, check out some more One-Law Midrashim from Mekhita de-Rabbi Ishmael:

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