Midrash is a Hebrew spiritual practice where one attempts to “fill in” a scriptural story with biography to help enhance the story. It is NOT adding to Scripture. It is a form of meditation, or seeking to enter into the story and allow the Bible to become revelation or an event where God and human connect and dwell together.
A Midrash that I find interesting is a story that one wrote about the night before Abram leaves his family to follow God in Genesis 12. Abram, it is said, goes into his family’s living room where all of the idols were. He smashed all of the idols until there was one left, then put the hammer in its hands. “This is the God of heaven who asked me to leave here and follow him.” In this way, Abram makes his solemn vow to follow Yahweh.
I’ve been flirting with Midrash and have found it to be a fun activity, I encourage you to give it a try.
Midrash from the Woman in Nain, Luke 7:11-17
“How am I supposed to wake up when I haven’t slept.”
She was tired, disillusioned, frail, broken. Her son, the last one in her family, had recently died. She is the lone survivor. “Boys his age should not die,” she thought. She sought answers all night long, but had none.
The usual crowd gathered at her door. Mourners, some were friends who came on their own. Others had come because of their obligations. Others, she later found out, were paid to come “mourn” with her.
Rumors were beginning to spread throughout the village. Perhaps she was cursed. Should she be allowed to stay in the village? Aren’t the tax collectors going to take everything from her? Maybe she has sinned greatly against God? Maybe her parents sinned while she was in the womb?
Nevertheless, she felt an acute loneliness. Everyone was trying to figure out what to do. She really just needed someone to be “there.” Today, she would walk by the tombs of her husband and other children who had already died. The memory of their deaths would emerge again, would cast their dark, cold shadows over her already frail soul. It would be nice to be reached out to, not just looked after.
Step after step, they marched out to towards the tombs. Step by step anxiety built and pain shot through her heart. She told herself that she’d be stronger, more resolute this time, so that no one would be inconvenienced by another death in her family.
A crowd met her at the city gate, one that was entering the city and her crowd was leaving the city. “Perhaps they have returned from the tombs. Perhaps there is one who could associate with my grief and pain.”
She had no idea.
A man from Nazareth, one who would later be laid in his own tomb and emerge out of darkness, pain, suffering, and bewilderment and bring the whole cosmos with him, noticed her crying. He left his crowd behind and pulled her out of the crowd that surrounded her. He whispered to her, “Don’t cry.”
With a simple, creative command, the boy came back to life, rescued from the sting of death. The man from Nazareth reversed a curse, he turned mourning into dancing, and created beauty from ashes.
And the rest, is his story…