Midrash Tanhuma
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Judaism
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Midrash Tanhuma (Hebrew: מִדְרָשׁ תַּנְחוּמָא‎) is the name given to three different collections of Pentateuch aggadot; two are extant, while the third is known only through citations. By answering questions the Torah left unanswered, the Midrashim made the terse style of the biblical message more meaningful and relevant in the lives of those who heard them when they were first spoken on the Sabbath and festival days.

Midrash Tanhuma


The Torah is full of holy fire; it was written with a black fire upon a white fire.

The Torah has meekness as its footgear, and the fear of God as its crown. Hence Moses was the proper person through whose hands it should be delivered; he was meek, and with the fear of the Lord he was crowned.

You can not expect to occupy yourself with the study of the Torah in the future world and receive the reward for so doing in this world; you are meant to make the Torah your own in this life, and to look for reward in the life to come.

Cain’s offering consisted of the seed of flax, and that of Abel of the fatlings of his sheep. This is probably the reason why the wearing of a garment of various materials, as of woolen and linen together, was prohibited.

As one who finishes the building of his house proclaims that day a holiday, and consecrates the building, so God, having finished creation in the six days, proclaimed the seventh day a holy day and sanctified it.

If the fraudulent man and the usurer offer to make restitution, it is not permitted to accept it from them.

The Bible, or written law, contains unexplained passages and hidden sentences, which can not be fully understood without the help of the oral law. Further, the written law contains generalities, whilst the oral law goes in for explanations in detail, and is consequently much larger in volume. Indeed, as a figure of speech we could apply to it the words in Job (iv. 9), “The measure thereof is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.” The knowledge of this oral law can not be expected to be found amongst those who are bent on enjoying earthly life and worldly pleasures; its acquisition requires the relinquishment of all worldliness, riches and pleasures, and requires intellect aided by constant study.

There is no evil that has no remedy, and the remedy for sin is repentance.

Whatever hardships may be imposed upon Jews by the powers that be, they must not rebel against the authorities who impose them, but are to render compliance, except when ordered to disregard the Torah and its injunctions; for that would be tantamount to giving up their God.

He that stole an ox had to restore fivefold, and he that stole a sheep had to give back only fourfold, because by stealing the ox he may have prevented the owner from plowing or doing other agricultural work for the time being.

There is a wall of separation erected between the Shechinah and the following three classes, a wall that can never be razed: The cheat, the robber, and the idle worshiper.

The meaning of the phrase, “God made man in his own image,” is that, like his Maker, a man is to be righteous and upright. Do not argue that evil inclination is innate in you; such argument is fallacious; when you are a child you commit no sin; it is when you grow out of infancy that your evil inclination becomes developed. You have the power of resisting the evil inclination if you feel so inclined, even as you are able to convert the bitter elements of certain foods into very palatable eatables.

Hadrian King of Rome (Edom), having made great conquests, requested his court in Rome to proclaim him God. In answer to this modest request, one of his ministers said, “If your Majesty desires to become God, it will be necessary to quit God’s property first, to show your independence of him. He created heaven and earth; get out of these and you can proclaim yourself God.” Another counselor replied by asking Hadrian to help him out of a sad position in which he was placed. “I have sent a ship to sea,” he said, “with all my possessions on board of her, and she is but a short distance about three miles from shore but is struggling against the watery elements, which threaten her total destruction.” “Do not trouble,” replied the King, “I will send some of my ships well manned, and your craft shall be brought to the haven where she would be.” “There is no need for all that,” said the counselor satirically; “order but a little favorable wind, and her own crew will manage to bring her safely into port.” “And where shall I order the wind from? How have I the power to order the wind?”answered Hadrian angrily. Has your Majesty not even a little wind at your command?” said the King’s adviser mockingly, “and yet you wish to be proclaimed God!”

Hadrian then retired to his own rooms angry and disappointed, and when he told his wife of the controversy he had had with his ministers she remarked that his advisers did not strike on the proper thing which would bring his wish to a happy consummation. “It seems to me,” she said mockingly, “that the first thing you must do is to give God back what he has given you and be under no obligation to him.” “And what may that be?” inquired the heathen. “The soul, of course,” answered his wife. “But,” argued the King, “if I give back my soul, I shall not live.” “Then,” said his wife triumphantly, “that shows that you are but mortal, and can not be God.”

The slanderer seems to deny the existence of God. As King David has it, “They say, Our lips are with us, who is Lord over us?” (Ps. xii.)

Let us not lose sight of the lesson that it is meant to convey to us by the expression, “And the Lord came down to see” (Gen. xi.), namely that we are not to judge merely by “hearsay” and to assert anything as having taken place unless we saw it.

Elijah quickened the dead, caused rain to descend, prevented rain from coming down, and brought fire down from heaven; but he did not say “I am God.”

When Noah set out to plant the vine, Satan encountered him and asked upon what errand he was bent. “I am going to plant the vine,” said Noah. “I will gladly assist you in this good work,” said Satan. When the offer of help was accepted Satan brought a sheep and slaughtered it on the plant, then a lion, then a pig, and finally a monkey. He thus explained these symbols to Noah. When a man tastes the first few drops of wine he will be as harmless as a sheep; when he tastes a little more he will become possessed of the courage of a lion and think himself as strong; should he further indulge in the liquid produced by your plant he will become as objectionable as a pig; and by yet further indulgence in it he will become like a monkey.