When push comes to shove to search is really to inquire. To search is to seek to discover, to understand, to make meaning. Which brings me to Midrash. In Hebrew, Midrash is both a specific literary genre and an ongoing process. The literary genre of Midrash is most closely associated with those rabbis that sought to discover the many different layers of meaning that they believed to reside within the written Torah. Many of their inquires, their searches, and their expositions, are recorded and anthologized in what Jews call, “The Midrash.”
But Midrash, searching for meaning, continues to this day. Jews who seek to find meaning in the ancient teachings of Judaism are doing the work of “Midrash.” Midrash is what keeps Jewish tradition fresh and resonant. It is what allows Judaism to be a big tent and a profound catalyst for meaning making of various kinds.
It’s hard to fully explain Midrashic thinking or teach Midrash in a way that honors the paradox of pietistic irreverence and playful sanctity that are inherent in the genre and in all true acts of Midrash. But if you’re involved in a serious search for meaning, if your inquiring deeply and seeking new insight, then you get it.