Over Passover, I went to a lecture entitled "Principles of Oppression: Egyptian Policies in the Thought of ChaZal."
It was an endless listing of horrible things that the rabbis of the Talmud invented about the Egyptians 3200 years ago (at the time of the Exodus).
How would we Jews feel if the Egyptian Coptics down the street were reading the same type of texts, only this time the bad guys were Jews?
From Midrash Zuta on the Song of Songs: "For a Jewish child would enter the home of an Egyptian see a nursing babe and thus the Egyptian child would be handed over…" How do you like it now, rebosai?
As opposed to the more subtle and sophisticated narrative of the Torah (where some Egyptians are portrayed as good — such as Pharoah’s daughter and the midwives Shifra and Puah — and some Israelites are portrayed as bad), Midrash is almost always one-sided propaganda. In the Pentateuch, Esau is and Jacob are complicated characters. In the midrash, Esau is the embodiment of evil and Jacob the embodiment of good.
If this literature were not ours, we would think it primitive.
Jews are jolly lucky that they’ve got me around to sort them out. If I weren’t alive and blogging in the heart of Los Angeles Orthodox Judaism, all sorts of rabbis would be running around diddling kids.