MIDRASH LEKAḤ TOV

MIDRASH LEKAḤ TOV (Heb. מִדְרַשׁ לֶקַח טוֹב), a late 11th-century Midrash on the Pentateuch and Five Scrolls by Tobias b. Eliezer. The author called it Lekaḥ Tov ("good doctrine") on the basis of its opening verse (Prov. 4:2): "For I give you good doctrine" which he chose with allusion to his name (for the same reason he begins his interpretations of the weekly portions of Scripture and of the Scrolls with a verse containing the word tov, "good"). The book was called Pesikta by later scholars, and also, in error, Pesikta Zutarta. Tobias lived in the Balkans (Buber), and his Midrash contains allusions to contemporary historical events and specific reference to the martyrs of the First Crusade of 1096 (in the portion Emor and in his commentary on the verse "Therefore do the maidens love thee," Song 1:3). Zunz defined the Midrash as a composition which is "half exegesis and half aggadah," but even in the "half aggadah" the exegetical commentary aspect is conspicuous. Tobias took the ideas he needed from the Babylonian Talmud, the halakhic Midrashim, and the early aggadic Midrashim (including some no longer extant), as well as from the early mystical literature and used them as the basis of his Midrash. He did not however quote them literally nor as a rule did he mention their authors. He translated Aramaic passages as well as Greek and Latin terms into Hebrew; abridged the language of the early authors; and even combined their sayings and refashioned them. He tended to quote scriptural verses from memory, which explains the many variations from the standard text. The work also contains hundreds of explanations by Tobias himself, some in the style of the midrashic literature and some giving the literal meaning. He expounds the keri and the ketiv, the masorah , gematriot , and notarikon and also gives many mnemotechnical devices in the manner of the rabbis. His literal explanations are based on the rules of grammar, vocalization, accentuation, etc. It is noteworthy that he explains anthropomorphic verses and statements as parables and frequently repeats: "The Torah speaks in the language of men." This tendency is without doubt an aspect of his violent struggle with the Karaites which finds expression in the Midrash in many places. His practical aim is also conspicuous when he deals with certain halakhot whose performance was apparently neglected in his time. Tobias' Midrash was frequently quoted soon after it was written, but until the end of the last century only the Lekaḥ Tov to Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy had been published (first edition, Venice, 1746). It was published in full, Genesis and Exodus by S. Buber (1884); Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy by Meir Katzenellenbogen of Padua (1884) from the Venice edition with corrections; the Song of Songs was published by A.W. Greenup (1909); Ruth by I. Bamberger (1887); Lamentations by J. Nacht (1895), and again by Greenup (1908); Ecclesiastes by G. Finberg (1904); Esther by Buber in the Sifrei de-Aggadata al Megillat Esther (1886). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Buber, Midrash Lekaḥ Tov (1884), introd.; Zunz-Albeck, Derashot, 145f., 441–3; L. Ginzberg, Ginzei Schechter, 1 (1928), 253–97. (Jacob Elbaum) MIDRASH PROVERBS or AGGADAT PROVERBS MIDRASH PROVERBS or AGGADAT PROVERBS (Heb. מִדְרַשׁ מִשְׁלֵי; cf. Arukh, S.V. nakad 3), Midrash on the Book of Proverbs, also frequently but wrongly referred to as Midrash Shoḥer Tov. The Midrash is distinguished by an exegetical style demonstrated both in the choice of its contents and the manner in which they are quoted. The compiler selected passages which largely explained the texts of Proverbs according to the literal meaning, and very frequently reworded them. As a result several of the characteristics of the early Midrash disappear and the exegetical method prevails. There are few proems, introductory words are rare, the few statements depend upon abstruse allusions, and the discussions in general are brief. A departure from the method of the early Midrashim is further conspicuous in two respects: in the formulation of disputes, and in the ascription of dicta to early scholars. The sources of the Midrash are the Mishnah, Tosefta, Mekhilta, and Sifrei. A phenomenon worthy of mention is the compiler's use of Heikhalot literature (to which Zunz drew attention; see merkabah mysticism ). The editor also made use of amoraic Midrashim, Genesis Rabbah, Leviticus Rabbah, Pesiktade-Rav Kahana, Songs Rabbah, and Ecclesiastes Rabbah, and he also knew the two versions of Avot de-Rabbi Nathan. He had no acquaintance with the Jerusalem Talmud, although there are numerous quotations from the Babylonian Talmud. From this, Buber concluded that it was compiled in Babylon, and not in Italy as claimed by Zunz, and conjectured from this and the quotations from it in geonic works of the eighth century, that it was edited after the final editing of the Babylonian Talmud. Although the quotations in the geonic writings are doubtful (Albeck) it is nevertheless certain that it cannot be as late as the end of the geonic period, despite the contrary view of Zunz. The Midrash in its present state is incomplete. Parts of sections and whole sections are missing. The last third is particularly fragmentary, though the discussion of the last chapter (31) is given in detail. More Midrashim to this chapter are extant, namely Midrash Eshet Ḥayil (in S.A. Wertheimer, Battei Midrashot, 2 (19532), 146–50); Midrash Eshet Ḥayil in the Midrash ha-Gadol to Genesis (ed. by M. Margulies (1947), 368–74); and L. Ginsberg published a fragment from a new edition of Midrash Proverbs (Ginzei Schechter, 1 (1928), 163–8). These apparently reflect different editions of the Midrash. Another version of the Midrash Eshet Ḥayil, which was collated in 1512 by Moses b. Joseph Albiladah of Yemen, is based upon ancient sources, and shows affinities in some details with the Ginsberg version (published in J.L. Nahum, Mi-Ẓefunot Yehudei Teiman (1962), 209–22). The most important printed editions of the Midrash are Constantinople, 1517, Venice, 1547, and   Prague, 1613. Subsequently the printers relied chiefly upon the Prague edition, which relied upon the Venice edition (whose reading is doubtful, as Buber has shown), and added to it the glosses, Ot Emet, of Meir b. Samuel Benveniste. In 1893 S. Buber published a new edition of great value based upon three manuscripts, as well as the Constantinople edition. Additional manuscripts of the Midrash are now available. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Zunz-Albeck, Derashot, 133, 412f.; S. Buber (ed.), Midrash Mishlei (1893), introd. (Jacob Elbaum)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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