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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Torah and Halachic Authority (3/12)
Section - Question 3.26: What are the main Halakhic Midrashim?

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Torah and Halachic Authority (3/12)
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                                  Answer:
   
   Mekhilta. The Mekhilta is an important commentary on Exodus. It is
   essential to note that there are two separate versions of this midrash
   collection. One is "Mekhilta de Rabbi Ishmael" and the other is
   "Mekhilta de Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai". The former is the one that most
   Jews use today, but the latter is the text that was used by many
   medieval Jewish authorities. While the latter (ben Yohai) text was
   popularly circulated in manuscript form from the 11th to 16th
   centuries, it was lost for all practical purposes until it was
   rediscovered and printed in the 19th century.
     * Mekhilta de Rabbi Ishmael. This is a halakhic commentary on
       Exodus, concentrating on the legal sections, from Exodus 12 to 35.
       It derives halakha from Biblical verses. This midrash collection
       was redacted into its final form around the 3rd or 4th century CE;
       its contents indicate that its sources are some of the oldest
       midrashim, dating back possibly to the time of Rabbi Akiva. The
       midrash on Exodus that was known to the Amoraim is not the same as
       our current mekhilta; their version was only the core of what
       later grew into the present form.
     * Mekhilta de Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai. Based on the same core
       material as Mekhlita de Rabbi Ishmael, it followed a second route
       of commentary and editing, and eventually emerged as a distinct
       work. The Mekhlita de Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai is an exegetical
       midrash on Exodus 3 to 35, and is very roughly dated to near the
       4th century CE.
       
   Sifra. A comprehensive halakhic commentary on Vayikra (Leviticus),
   which works through all of Leviticus verse by verse. References in the
   Talmud to the Sifra are ambiguous; It is uncertain whether the texts
   mentioned in the Talmud are to an earlier version of our Sifra, or to
   the sources that the Sifra also drew upon. However, we do know that
   the references to the Sifra from the time of the Geonim and after are
   to the text that is extant today. The core of this text developed in
   the mid-3rd century as a critique and commentary of the Mishnah,
   although subsequent additions and editing went on for some time
   afterwards.
     * Sifre Numbers. A mainly halakhic midrash on Bamidbar (Numbers). It
       also includes a long haggadic piece in sections 78-106. References
       in the Talmud, and in the later Geonic literature, indicate that
       the original core of Sifre was on Numbers, Exodus and Deuteronomy.
       However, transmission of the text was imperfect, and by the middle
       ages, only the commentary on Numbers and Deuteronomy remained. The
       core material was redacted around the middle of the 3rd century.
     * Sifre Zutta (The small Sifre). A Halakhic commentary on Bamidbar
       (Numbers). The text of this midrash is only partially preserved in
       medieval works, while other portions were discovered by Solomon
       Schecter in his research in the famed Cairo Geniza. It seems to be
       older than most other midrash, coming from the early 3rd century.
       Terminology alert: Maimonides refers to this work as Mekhlita (de
       rabbi Ishamel) in his Sefer Ha'Mitzvot.
     * Sifre Deuteronomy. An exegetical and halakhic midrash on
       Deuteronomy. Redacted near the late 3rd century.
       
   Midrash Tannaim (also known as Mekhilta on Deuteronomy). This was a
   Halakhic midrash on Deuteronomy, of which only fragments exist today.
   Only portions of it can be reconstructed from quotes in other extant
   works, including Genizah fragments.

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Torah and Halachic Authority (3/12)
Previous Document: Question 3.25: What are Halakhic (or Tannaitic) Midrashim?
Next Document: Question 3.27: What are the main Exegetical Midrashim?

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