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Beit Midrash

Beit Midrash (Hebrew: בית מדרש, plural batei midrash) is a study hall (literally a "House [of] Interpretation" or "House [of] Learning" in Hebrew). It is distinct from a synagogue, although many synagogues are also used as batei midrash or vice versa.

In modern times, "batei midrash" are typically found as the central study halls of yeshivot or independent kollelim, both institutions of religious study. The location and institution of study are often interchanged, so in popular parlance, yeshivot are sometimes referred to as batei midrash.

Early rabbinic literature, including the Mishnah, makes mention of the Beit Midrash as an institution distinct from the beit din and Sandhedrin. It was meant as a place of Torah study and interpretation, as well as the development of halakhah (the practical application of the Jewish Law).

The origin of the Beit Midrash can be traced to the early rabbinic period, following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. The earliest known rabbinical school was established by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai at Yavneh. Other official schools were soon established under different rabbis. These men traced their ideological roots back to the Pharisees of the late Second Temple Period, specifically the Houses of Hillel and Shammai, two "schools" of thought.

By late antiquity, the Beit Midrash had developed along with the synagogue into a distinct though somewhat related institution. The nature of the connection between the Beit Midrash and synagogue is related the question of rabbinic authority in late ancient Judaism.

The first Messianic Beit Midrash in Israel is called Hut HaShani (Scarlet Cord) from Joshua 2:18-21. It symbolizes the veiled reference to the Messiah in the story of Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho, and the blood of Yeshua (Jesus). Just as the scarlet thread saved Rahab, so the scarlet blood of Yeshua saves sinners. Rahab was the great-grandmother of Jesse, the father of king David, and is therefore an ancestor of Yeshua.