Exegetical interpretation, often of verses in Tanach. The term also refers to books based on these interpretations, e.g., Midrash Rabba, Midrash Tanchuma, et al.

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source for a story: man who went to milk a lion

When I was a kid I heard the following story at least a few times in grade school from the school headmaster (probably around Rosh Hashanah time). It's based on a Jewish legend or midrash, and I'd ...
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Pshat in Pasuk of Velo Yavor

Chazal say that the reason why we don't read the Megillah on the 16 is because the passuk (Esther 9:27) says "velo yavor" - וְלֹא יַעֲבוֹר. Why is there a need for this Passuk? The Megillah said that ...
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Was there sentient life with free will in the worlds that G-d destroyed before making our world?

The midrash at B'reshis Rabba 3:7 states that G-d created a number of worlds and destroyed them before the creation of our world. Is the Midrash implying that the earlier worlds included sentient ...
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34 views

Chazal and Medrash Tanchumah

I was reading A Time to Laugh; A Time to Listen by Rabbi Yehoshua Kurland. On page 116 he brings down a Chazal (Medrash Tanchumah, Toldos 18) which says, "You make a small opening like one made by the ...
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49 views

Did the ancient Rabbanim believe that the spirits of the dead walked the Earth?

In the Midrashim I noticed that Rabbanim keep mentioning events in which the Rabbi would be walking along and come across a man doing some task and it would turn out to be the spirit of a dead man who ...
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45 views

Who was Rabi Tanchuma?

Was there an actual person Rabi Tanchuma attributed to writing the medrash that goes by this name? Do know anything about him?
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82 views

How could Moshe write on Shabbos?

I once saw this question in the magazine Kolmus: There's a tradition that Moshe wrote thirteen sifrei Torah on the day of his death. However, there are many opinions that Moshe died on Shabbos, ...
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20 views

Medrash, Witness and G-d

I heard someone mention that the Medrash teaches us, “[If] You are My witnesses... and I am G-d,” but, “If you are not My witnesses... I am not G-d.” Do you know where this Medrash is from?
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41 views

Why did Esav care about burial in machpelah?

The midrash records that Esav tried to stop Yaakov from being buried in the cave of machpelah. I would like to know if any commentators explain why Esav would care about this? I recall hearing that he ...
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54 views

Why do the men (of Menashe) get no credit?

The Daughters of Zlophchad pointed out that the inheritance of their father would be passed to a different family because he had no sons. Moshe responds that they, the daughters, will inherit him ...
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64 views

Looking for a drasha on Yerach ben Yomo/Karnei Para

Anyone have any links to any drashos explaining the significance of the Yerach ben Yomo/Karnei Para trop, and why it appears (uniquely in chumash) in the portion about the Levite cities (Numbers ...
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111 views

War, Pray and Learn

The Medrash Rabbah and the Yalkut relate that during the war against Midyon, for every one that went out to battle there was a designated person whose task it was to pray and learn for him. Where in ...
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42 views

Source for exemption of hekdesh by nizkei adam

What is the source of the פטור (exemption) of הקדש by נזקי אדם (damage to property done by a person)? Tosfos on Bava Kama 7a (continued from 6b sv שור רעהו; on 7a, beginning of narrow lines) teaches ...
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How can there be machlokes in gezairah shavos?

The Gemara says (Nidah 19b, among other places), אין אדם דן גזירה שווה מעצמו - a person can't make up gezaira shavos, they have to have been learned from one's teacher. If so, how can there ever be a ...
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What are some examples of chazal making a midrash about the way a letter looks?

So, for instance, one could say that the nekudot over the word "kissed" in the verse in which Esau kissed Jacob suggest that Esau tried to bite Jacob because the line of dots looks like bite marks. ...
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What exactly did Yaakov learn at Yeshivat Shem v'Ever? [duplicate]

The Midrash (Bereshit Rabba 84:8) says ר' נחמיה אמר שכל הלכות שמסרו שם ועבר ליעקב מסרן לו All the laws that Yaakov learned by Shem and Ever, he taught to Yosef (his son). What exactly did ...
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35 views

Babies born in Generation of Spies not entering the Land

Hashem says: “All who anger me shall not see [the land]” (Bamidbar 14:33) According to the Midrash (see חידושי מרן הגרי"ז who brings this medrash), this means that everyone, even the young children, ...
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78 views

Are some Apes banished Humans

Had read some midrash or zohar that some apes were human beings who were banished and became apes. Don't remember the source. Does anyone know this?
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197 views

Why did the angels object to the Torah being given to Moshe – what did the angels think?

The well-known Gemoro Shabbos 88b reports the angels protesting against HKB”H giving the Torah to Israel. HKB”H tells Moshe to answer the angels and Moshe shows that the Torah is only applicable to ...
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How is repeating what Bnei Yisrael did somehow a “correction”?

According to this answer, it seems as though staying up late is somehow a correction for Bnei Yisrael sleeping late. I've heard it explained that they thought nevua would only come while they are ...
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168 views

Coffee and the Source for Reason for Staying Up for Shavuos

In a fascinating article , Elliot Horowitz credits the introduction of coffee for the spread of the custom of staying awake at night. In the 15th century, the drinking of coffee originated in Yemenite ...
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How does the midrash know that the Jews had to be awakened for the giving of the Torah?

Considering the pretty obvious excitement, written in the Torah itself, that B'nai Yisra'el had about receiving the Torah, it seems contradictory that they would be sleeping on the day the Torah was ...
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Is “al tikri” ever used for a midrash halacha?

In maseches Rosh Hashana 13a–b, the Gemara attempts to prove that certain crops count as having grown in the year in which they achieve one-third of their total growth: מנלן כדתניא רבי יונתן בן ...
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75 views

Soul for a Soul?

בס"ד In both Mishpatim and Shoftim there is a verse (Exodus 21:23 and Devarim 19:21) saying "a soul for a soul". I know that we don't take these verses literally and restitution is the punishment. ...
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Hair in Aggadah

I have encountered two different instances in midrashim which mention hair doing peculiar things. Genesis Rabah 93:6 and 7, regarding a sign of Judah's anger: אמר רבי חנין בשעה שהיה יהודה מעלה ...
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155 views

Where does the proverb “as you teach you learn” come from?

I ran across the proverb "As you teach, you learn" on a list of Jewish proverbs. (Here is an example of it online.) Does anyone know its source? I saw a few cites attribute it to "Midrash Tehilim", ...
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55 views

Why use the language of לֹא-תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי, בַּחֲלֵב אִמּוֹ

The concept of לֹא-תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי, בַּחֲלֵב אִמּוֹ is brought down three times in the Torah. The Gemarah learns from this that there are three prohibitions: 1) The prohibition against cooking milk ...
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196 views

Explanations from חז״ל for Noah's ark?

Today, a very learned friend of mine and I were discussing the difficulty of the literal interpretation of Noah's ark. That is, we could not fathom how multiple samples of every animal on earth could ...
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Source for medrash that Klal Yisroel counted the omer when they came out of Mitzraim

The sefer Tur Bareket (OC 489 1) brought here quotes a medrash that Moshe Rabbeinu told Klal Yisroel to count 50 days towards matan torah. Do any of our readers know the exact source in the medrash of ...
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81 views

Were Esav, Yishmael, and Nimrod Evildoers?

This question asserts that Ishmael was an evildoer (rasha). However, based on a simple (p'shat) reading of the relevant texts (in Genesis), neither he nor Esau nor Nimrod appear to do anything ...
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Hidden treasure for speaking lashon Harah?

The Torah Vayikra 14:34 introduces the topic of tzara'ath on houses as if it were a good tiding - from this, the Midrash learns that the good tiding is finding hidden treasure when having to demolish ...
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Moshe Rabainu burning his mouth with the coals

Per this answer Moshe and the Red-Hot Coals Moshe Rabainu took the coals and placed it in his mouth and his mouth got burned. It does not mention that his hand got burned. Did his hand get burned or ...
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Law before a drashah was made

What was the law before a drasha (a law derived from the 13 middos) was made? Were all the laws given at Sinai, and only their sources derived from the Torah by Chazal, or did Chazal learn new laws ...
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116 views

Where is Adam created?

The Torah tells us G-d brought Adam into Gan Eden after his creation from earth (Bereishis 2:15). If this is the case where was Adam created?
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Yisro's clothes and food

Is there a specific tradition that Yisro changed his clothes and diet during the course of events in the Torah?
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52 views

Why did the bull demand Eliyahu hand it over?

In the Yalkut Shim'oni on Ⅰ M'lachim 18 (remez 214), we see a bit more of the story found in that chapter of Navi: Eliyahu's bull continued following him. But the bull that was designated for ...
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What right did Rivka have to use Eisav's coat against him? [duplicate]

The midrashim bring that Rivka dressed up Yaakov in Eisav's special coat (originally given to Adam) that he used to serve his father. [See Rashi on 27:15 for partial source.] Since Rivka was ...
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83 views

Source for book of Tehillim out of order?

I recall learning a midrash (shochar tov?) that the book of Tehillim is out of order and Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi wanted to put it back in order but was not allowed to do so. Where is this statement ...
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Issachar's Banner in Halacha

Inspired by this answer. Bamidbar Rabbah 2:7 describes the symbol on Issachar's banner as the sun and the moon. I have researched the topic of what it is permitted to draw, and it seems that ...
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47 views

Joseph's Garment- Made or hand me down?

Source 1: Targum Yerushalmi Bereishit 48:22 which says that Yosef coat was originally Adam's. Source 2: Bereishit 37:3 Says Yaakov made Joseph's coat How can this be resolved? Source 1: כב וַאֲנָא ...
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107 views

How many approaches to Torah are there?

Our sages tell us that there are שבעים פנים לתורה (Bamidbar Rabbah). Does this mean that every word, or verse, or some unit, has 70 interpretations, and there are theoretically billions of ...
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Why is Midrash not in the Torah

If midrashim are so important and add crucial historical/sociological details and ethical teachings and enrich our understanding of Hashem's wisdom, why are they not included in the Torah?
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How did Abraham conclude that the world must have a master?

Abraham is said to have arrived at the existence of Gd in Gen Rabah 39: אמר רבי יצחק משל לאחד שהיה עובר ממקום למקום וראה בירה אחת דולקת אמר תאמר שהבירה זו בלא מנהיג הציץ עליו בעל הבירה אמר לו ...
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The Fourth Exile, Persia or Rome?

When Avraham experiences a vision of 'fear, darkness, great, descending upon him', (Gen 15:12), the Midrash says that these four words refer to the 4 exiles. Fear is Babylon, darkness is Medea, great ...
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51 views

Didn't Shem already have an altar on Moriah?

We learn from the Torah that Akedat Yitzhok took place on the mountain of Moriah. We also know that Malki-Tzedek came to Avraham Avinu, bringing bread and wine. (Bereishit 14:18) Rashi brings the ...
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117 views

What is the earliest source of the story of Serach bas Asher and the harp?

This post indicates that the earliest source for the story of Serach bas Asher and the harp, wherein she notified Yakov that Yosef was still alive in a very subtle musical fashion, is a very late ...
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Which edition of Midrash Tanchuma is this?

There are a couple editions of Midrash Tanchuma floating around. The following is based on the Buber edition from Vilna: http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/vl/tohen.asp?id=280 But, can anyone discern what ...
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Why did Yosef cry about the future destruction of the Batei HaMikdash at that particular moment?

After Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, he fell upon Binyamin's neck and wept, and Rashi comments there that he was weeping about the future destruction of the two Batei HaMikdash. But why did ...
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126 views

Why identify personalities in midrash?

As noted previously on this site (quoting Mail-Jewish), there's a general tendency in midrashim to claim two persons in Tanach are the same. This is familiar to anyone who has studied Rashi's ...
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103 views

Who said many agados were to wake students?

Someone told me this morning that he had, years before, seen a commentary published in the back of a volume of g'mara, likely Maharsha or Maharam, say that many of the agados throughout shas were said ...