Gershon Hepner

How Midrashim Are Made

The facility that the artist has and doesn’t use
is his greatest, this restraint
based on instructions that are given by his Muse
when it tells him what not to paint.

The facility that the actor has and doesn’t use
is what determines that the actor
becomes great, enabling him to lose
what won’t, which is the showboat factor.

The facility that the writer has and doesn’t use
is what determines whether what
he writes is memorable, which should bemuse
by what’s not mentioned in his plot.

Midrashim are details added
into plots omitted by
the author, redone, reformatted
with facts on which we can’t rely ;

additions by his readers when
they add what sometimes sounds absurd:
it’s literature conceived by men
who’re guessing what might have occurred.

They read it very close, deducing
newer details once omitted
perhaps deliberately, producing
what’s midrashically permitted:

excavation of the text to tell
what by close reading has been hinted,
received by many readers well
and – despite dissenters – printed.

About the Author
Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored "Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel." He can be reached at
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