The Magic of Midrash
Midrash – noun, (plural midrashim, midrashoth) an early Jewish interpretation of or commentary on a Biblical or sacred text, clarifying or expounding a point of law or developing or illustrating a moral principle.
When I first realized that Kris Oster’s new book Return to Enchantment: Your Guide to Creating a Magical Livelihood included a chapter that mentions midrash my brain lit up. Actually my body lit up too…in a “full body YES” kind of way.
Being a lover of sacred texts, midrash, and the hebrew language I got pretty excited that Kris had incorporated the idea of midrash into a business book. Plus, some of the most powerful (and archetypical) stories we all know came from midrash – the story of Noah’s ark for example. So, yeah, I was excited.
When I got to the chapter and read the word “midrashing“, I laughed out loud.
I had never seen the word “midrash” used as a verb. Up until that moment, a midrash was a noun, a “thing”…a story, an idea, an explanation. But I realized that thinking of it in that way also made it seem a bit stagnant, unmoving, set – even though the very job of a midrash is to help us move away from singular interpretations and to give us a wider view, an alternative perspective, and often, hope.
Everyone loves a good story. And yet most of us do not think of ourselves as “storytellers”. But that’s where we miss the boat, because we all tell stories. All day, every day. Many of them we tell unconsciously.
Our most powerful stories begin with a simple phrase: “I AM.”
Which brings us back to the idea of Midrash, after all – the term is intimately connected with the Hebrew scriptures. In the book of Exodus when Moses asks the burning bush he’s chatting with for a name, the bush replies, “I AM THAT I AM.” (Ehyeh Aser Ehyeh).
Arguably, some of the most powerful words ever spoken.
And that is precisely where the Magic parts comes in. Words. Power. Your story.
Everyday you are creating your world with your words. Your “I AM” statements are extremely powerful. In fact, everything you experience is directly related to your identity.
Midrashing, then, can be quite a useful “thing” to “do”.
Most of us tell hundreds of stories every day. And although I don’t mean to use the word “story” in the sense of telling lies, as children we may have been confused about that terminology. “Sounds like you’re telling a story to me”, our parents may have said as they were sure we were lying about something, or at the very least they were concerned that we were letting our imaginations run away with us. “Tell the truth” we were admonished, “Honesty is the best policy”, and of course “Thou Shall Not Lie.”
But what else is a Midrash, if not an imagining, or a re-imagining of what we’ve known to be “the truth”?
Letting our imagination run away with us may be one of the best things we’ve ever done, if we do it consciously. After all, as Kris points out in her book “The imagination is the sacred space where the divine inhabits us.”
Imagination aside, most of the stories we tell, we tell honestly. I’m broke. I’m feeling unwell. I’m not good at math. I’m terrible at remembering names. My business is failing. My marriage is not exciting anymore. My job sucks.
On and on we go, telling the truth.
When maybe we could re-imagine, reform, revisit, retell those stories.
Maybe we could go a-midrashing.
I often converse with clients about what I call “I AM” stories. Just like the statements I used above, “I’m this, I’m that.” “I AM.”
Our “I AM” stories are incredibly powerful.
We often hear in law of attraction circles that our “thoughts become things.” And while I wouldn’t completely disagree with that, I believe there is more to it. Our thoughts become our beliefs, and our beliefs become our stories, and our stories create our experience. So the value of our stories, the value of “midrashing” if you will, is immense.
I once spoke with a women who identified herself as a “survivor” at least 10 times in the first 15 minutes of our conversation. She had indeed survived much – abuse, divorce, poverty, cancer, loss, etc. But, I realized at one point that she was so attached to that identity, to that “story” (“I AM a Survivor!”) that there was really no way she could create anything else in her life except more experiences to survive.
Our stories create our experiences.
To “midrash” this particular example the same woman may have told her story much differently. Maybe it would have sounded like this, “At one time I had cancer and it was quite a battle, but now I AM healthy. I’ve been through a divorce from an abusive man, but now I AM healing, and I AM available to begin a loving relationship, I was brought up in an impoverished home, but I have everything I need right now, and I AM in the process of creating abundance. I have experienced loss, but through that I have gained a strong appreciation for the relationships in my life, and I AM grateful for the many wonderful people I relate to each day.”
Do you see the difference in one story from the next even though the past experience is the same?
What part of your story can you midrash today?
Your imagination is the sacred space where the Divine inhabits you.
Today, listen to your story, and edit it accordingly. You may be surprised and delighted by the new revised version.
Love & Magic,
P.S. If you’d like some inspiration to tell a new business story, be sure to pick up a copy of Return to Enchantment. It’s a peach of a book, sprinkled through and through with wisdom and brilliance to help you create a magical livelihood.