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In Judaism, Midrash is first and foremost the technique of interpreting the Hebrew Bible with the use of oral traditions. Second it is the edifying collections of texts that have come from this technique. These collections can be divided into two levels: the part that deals with Jewish Law, Halacha, and the part that deals with folklore found in the Haggada.
The name "Midrash" comes from Hebrew and denotes intensive study or searching. This is to be understood as different from literal interpretation, which is a more rigid technique.
There were two reasons for introducing Midrash: disagreements between the Pharisees and Sadducees over the status of the Oral Law. But new historical and social circumstances were also of great importance, as the Jews asked questions for which there were no good answers. Midrash was the technique of finding these answers.
The main strength of Midrash was that it set out to reconcile contradictions in the religious texts.
The texts of the Midrash have been incorporated into the Mishnah.

Around 200 CE: With Rabbi Ishmael Ben Elisha and Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph, Midrashic activities reaches its height.

By Tore Kjeilen