"Section 58: When the Holy One created the first man, He took him and led him around all the trees of the Garden of Eden, and said to him: Behold My works, how beautiful, how splendid they are. All that I have created, I created for your sake. Take care that you do not become corrupt and thus destroy My world. For once you become corrupt, there is no one after you to repair it.(Eccles. R. 7:13,-1)"Today we read:
"Section 97: R. Berekhiah said in the name of R. Samuel bar Nahman: Though all living things [such as white figs] came into being in the fullness of their growth, they shriveled up as soon as Adam sinned and will not return to their perfection until a scion of Perez [the Messiah] comes. [To summarize]: After Adam sinned, the Holy One deprived Adam of six things: splendor of visage, lofty stature, life without death, perfection of the earth's fruit, the Garden of Eden, and brilliance of the luminaries in heaven. In the time-to-come, the Holy One will restore them."
This reads like some of the debates over global warming. Some of us (I suspect a large majority on this blog.) think that it is our responsibility to stop the destruction of the world and there is no one who will fix it. Others have faith and believe that G!d will do it for us. I find it comforting and useful to know that someone in my tradition provided support for my position so long ago. While realizing that the same men (intentional usage) could also provide ammunition to those on the other side.
The question of competing Midrashim is a compelling aspect of studying this book. When we study Halachah today, we are given answers. For example, when Kehati (a well regarded modern commentary on the Mishneh.) comments on a Mishneh, he always includes a statement about what is the established Halachah. Sudying Aggadah takes away that feeling that there is an answer to everything. Perhaps that is why Sefer Ha-Aggadah is a perfect reading for NHC.