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"In contradistinction to literal interpretation, subsequently called "peshaṭ" (comp. Geiger’s "Wiss. Zeit. Jüd. Theol." v. 244), the term "midrash" designates an exegesis which, going more deeply than the mere literal sense, attempts to penetrate into the spirit of the Scriptures, to examine the text from all sides, and thereby to derive interpretations which are not immediately obvious. The Talmud (Sanh. 34b) compares this kind of midrashic exposition to a hammer which awakens the slumbering sparks in the rock." [Jewish Encyclopedia]

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