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Aggadah or Haggadah

AGGADAH or HAGGADAH (Heb. הַגָּדָה, אַגָּדָה; "narrative"), one of the two primary components of rabbinic tradition, the other being halakhah, usually translated as "Jewish Law" (see: Kadushin , The Rabbinic Mind, 59f.). The term aggadah itself is notoriously difficult to define, and it has become the custom among scholars to define aggadah by means of negation – as the non-halakhic component of rabbinic tradition (Fraenkel, Midrash and Aggadah, 20). While fair enough, one must be careful in adopting this approach not to define the parallel term halakhah too narrowly. The halakhah of the rabbinic tradition can be described in part as a system of laws, but not infrequently it also has the character of a personal moral and spiritual discipline. It can be expressed in the form of concrete judgments about specific cases, but also in rules involving varying degrees of abstraction and generality. Talmudic tradition often uses stories to express a halakhah. This is obviously so when the story reports an explicit legal precedent. But it may also be true when a story merely describes the behavior of a notable sage, if it is understood that this behavior is worthy of imitation. Despite the varied forms in which the halakhah is expressed, the rules, judgments and precedents included in talmudic literature all have one thing in common: they all categorize specific forms of behavior and well defined areas of experience in line with formal dichotomies, such as "permissible" or "forbidden," "pure" or "impure," "holy" and "profane," etc. Aggadah, on the other hand, investigates and interprets the meaning, the values, and the ideas which underlie the specific distinctions which govern religious life. In line with the accepted tendency to define aggadah as "that which is not halakhah," one could say that the relation between aggadah and halakhah is similar to the relation between theory and practice, between idea and application, and, in the area of ethics, between character and behavior.


AGGADAH: Zunz, Vortraege, Zunz-Albeck, Derashot; Bacher, Bab Amor; Bacher, Tann; Bacher, Pal Amor; Ginzberg, Legends, L. Ginzberg, Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvaetern und in der apokryphischen Literatur (1900); H.L. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (1931), 201–34, Graetz, in: MGWJ, 3 (1854), 311–9, 352–5, 381–92, 482–31, 4 (1855), 186–92; Guedemann, in: Jubelschrift… L. Zunz (1884), 111–21; V. Aptowitzer, Kain und Abel in der Agada… (1922), Marmorstein, in: HUCA, 6 (1929), 141–204; Heller, in: J. Bolte and G. Polivka (eds.), Anmerkungen zu den Kinder und Hausmaerchen der Brueder Grimm, 4 (1930), 315–418, Stein, in: HUCA, 8–9 (1931–32), 353–71, I. Heinemann, Altjuedische Allegoristik (1935); idem, Darkhei ha-Aggadah (1954), H.N. Bialik, Halakhah and Aggadah (1944), S. Lieberman, Greek in Jewish Palestine (1942), 144–60, idem, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1950), 47–82; Seeligmann, in: VT, Suppl., (1953), 150–81 (Ger.), Zeitschrift fuer Theologie und Kirche, 52 (1955), 129–61; B. Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript (1961); G. Vermes, Scripture and Tradition in Judaism (1961); A.J. Heschel Torah min ha-Shamayim be-Aspaklaryah shel ha-Dorot, 2 vols. (1962–65), vol. 3 (1995); E.E. Halevi, Sha'arei ha-Aggadah (1963). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Kadushin, Organic Thinking (1938); idem, The Rabbinic Mind (1952); J. Heinemann, Aggadot Ve-Toldotehen (1974); J. Fraenkel, in: J.W. Welch (ed.), Chiasmus in Antiquity: Structures, Analyses, Exegesis (1981) 183–97; idem, Iyyunim be-Olamo ha-Ruḥani shel Sippur ha-Aggadah (1981); idem, Darkhei ha-Aggadah ve-Hamidrash (Hebrew; 1996); idem, Midrash ve-Aggadah (1996); idem, Sippur ha-AggadahAḥdut shel Tokhen ve-Ẓurah (2001); S. Friedman, BT Bava Meẓi'a VI, Commentary (1990); idem, "The Talmudic Parable in its Cultural Setting," in: JSIJ, 2 (2003), 25–82; idem, "The Historical Aggadah of the Babylonian Talmud" (Hebrew), in: S. Friedmand (ed.), Saul Lieberman Memorial Volume (1993),119–64; Idem, "A Good Story Deserves Retelling – The Unfolding of the Akiva Legend," in: JSIJ, 3 (2004), 1–39; idem, "The Further Adventures of Rav Kahana – Between Babylonia and Palestine," in: P. Schäfer (ed.), The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture, 3 (2002), 247–71; idem, "History and Aggadah: The Enigma of Dama Ben Netina" (Hebrew), in: Jonah Fraenkel Festschrift (forthcoming); idem, "The Aggadah of Rav Kahana and Rabbi Yohanan (Bava Qamma 117a-b) and the Hamburg-Geniza Recension" (Hebrew), in: Meyer S. Feldblum Memorial Volume (forthcoming); S. Wald, BT Pesahim III (2000), 211–39, 253–68; A. Kosman, in: Hebrew Union College Annual, 73 (2002) 157–90; M.A. Friedman & M.B. Lerner (eds.), Te'uda XIStudies in the Aggadic Midrashim, in Memory of Zvi Meir Rabinowitz (1996); M. Kister, in: Tarbiz, 67 (1998), 483–529. WOMEN IN AGGADAH: J.R. Baskin, Midrashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in Rabbinic Literature (2002); M.A. Friedman, "Tamar, a Symbol of Life: The 'Killer Wife' Superstition in the Bible and Jewish Tradition," in: AJS Review, 15 (1990), 23–61; D.M. Goodblatt. "The Beruriah Traditions;" in: Persons and Institutions in Early Rabbinic Judaism (1977); D.E. Weisberg, "Men Imagining Women Imagining God: Gender Issues in Classical Midrash," in: Agendas for the Study of Midrash in the Twenty-First Century (1999); T. Ilan, Mine and Yours are Hers: Retrieving Women's History from Rabbinic Literature (1997). LITERARY AND INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES: D. Boyarin, Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash (1990); M. Fishbane, Biblical Myth and Rabbinic Mythmaking (2003); A. Goshen-Gottstein, The Sinner and the Amnesiac: The Rabbinic Invention of Elisha Ben Abuya and Eleazar Ben Arach (2000); G.H. Hartman and S. Budick (eds.), Midrash and Literature (1986); G. Hasan-Rokem, Web of Life: Folklore and Midrash in Rabbinic Literature, tr. Batya Stein (2000); idem, Tales of the Neighborhood: Jewish Narrative Dialogues in Late Antiquity (2003); J. Kugel, in: Midrash and Literature, G. Hartman and S. Budick (eds.) (1986); idem, In Potiphar's House: The Interpretive Life of Biblical Texts (1990); idem, The Bible as It Was (1997); J. Levinson, "Literary Approaches to Midrash," in: C. Bakhos (ed.), Current Trends in the Study of Midrash (2006); idem, The Untold StoryArt of the Expanded Biblical Narrative in Rabbinic Midrash (Heb., 2005); H. Mack, The Aggadic Midrash Literature (1989); O. Meir, Ha-Sippur ha-Darshani (1987); D. Noy, "Motif Index of Talmudic-Midrashic Literature" (Doctoral diss., Indiana University. Bloomington, 1954); idem, Mavo le-sifrut ammamit (1966); J. Neusner, Development of a Legend: Studies on the Traditions Concerning Yohanan Ben Zakkai (Studia Post-Biblica, vol. 16) (1970); J. Rubenstein, Talmudic Stories: Narrative Art, Composition, and Culture (1999); idem. The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud (2003); R. Sarason, in: Studies in Aggadah, Targum and Jewish Liturgy in Memory of Joseph Heinemann, Ezra Fleischer and Jacob Petuchowski (eds.), (1981); A. Shinan, Targum va-Aggadah Bo (1992); D. Stern, in: Prooftexts, 1 (1981), 261–91; idem, Parables in Midrash (1991); idem, Midrash and Theory: Ancient Jewish Exegesis and Contemporary Literary Studies (1996); D. Stein, Memra, Magyah, Mitos: Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer le-Or Meḥḳar ha-Sifrut ha-Amamit (2004). AGGADAH IN ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS: Mayer, Art, nos. 1809–1901, C.O. Nordström, The Duke of Alba's Castilian Bible (1967), Gutmann, in: Gesta, 5 (1966), 39–44, H.G. Enelow, Significance of the Agada (1914), I. Heinemann, Darkhei ha-Aggadah (19542) L. Ginzberg, On Jewish Law and Lore (1955); S. Spiegel, in: L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Bible (1956), introduction, O. Camhy, in: Judaism, 8 (1959), 68–72, S.M. Lehrman, World of the Midrash (1961); G. Vermes, Scripture and Tradition in Judaism (1961), J. Neusner, History and Torah (1965), 17–29 (repr. from Judaism, 9 (1960), 47–54).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.