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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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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76 views

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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244 views

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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64 views

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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52 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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151 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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40 views

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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129 views

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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129 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 ...
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125 views

How to understand the Medrash that Isaac's eyes were weakened by the tears of the angels?

Rashi's second interpretation of Braishis 27 (1) (based on the Medrash Rabbah 65 (10)) is that Isaac's eyes were weakened by the tears of the angels at the Akeidah. Rashi speaking about the angels ...
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125 views

Why did Yitchak not follow in Avraham's footsteps regarding hospitality

Avraham is described in the midrashim as being extreme in the mitzva of hachnasat orchim (hospitality). Through this method, he was able to mekarev (reach out to) thousands of people and teach them ...
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2answers
112 views

Hints and thoroughness in Talmudic referencing of Tanach

There are times when the Talmud uses references to Tanach that do not seem to be proofs per se. They may not follow the middot and are more like hints. This has been discussed in answers to another ...
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3answers
180 views

Seemingly weak proof-texts from Tanach

What is the best way to understand how texts from Tanach are brought in the tradition (such as in the Talmud) to add proof or solidity to a point... according to a really unintuitive reading of the ...
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2answers
105 views

What's a good beginner-friendly collection of aggadah in English?

A friend with a secular background is now becoming more connected with Judaism (yay!), and has told me she finds the aggadic stories that fill in the gaps in the torah to be particularly helpful. ...
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3answers
252 views

Why does Rashi cite the Midrash of Pharaoh's daughter stretching out her arm?

There's a famous Midrash cited by Rashi (Shemoth 2:5), that says Pharaoh's daughter stretched out her arm and that it extended beyond its natural length to pull in the basket containing the baby from ...
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192 views

What is meant by the 974 “worlds” that were “created and destroyed”?

Midrash Tehillim 90:13 says that God created and destroyed 974 worlds before this one. What exactly does that mean? I've heard it used in defense of a modern understanding of evolution and cosmology ...
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52 views

What was the name of the wife of Elozor HaCohen?

What was the name of the wife of Elozor HaCohen? (Assuming she was the sister of tzipporah and daughter of Yisro)
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47 views

Examining the Zav

Does anyone know of any rabbinic sources (Talmudic/midrashic) that indicate that a Zav would go to a halakhic authority to be examined regarding his Zivah?
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335 views

Is the midrash about the moon and sun being the same size intended literally?

The Rambam in his introduction to perek Chelek discusses midrashic literalist, and classifies different approaches of different groups to midrash. He writes: You should know that as to ...
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225 views

Why pray for Y'hoshua and not Kalev?

Rashi to Sh'lach 13:16 notes that Moshe prayed that God save Y'hoshua from the other spies' plot. This is a paraphrase of a g'mara (Sotah 34b) which implies strongly that Moshe did not similarly pray ...
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207 views

What is so special about wearing Egyptian clothing

Why was moses dressed up as a mitsri when the daughters of yisro found him and according to some midrash he had left Egypt 50 or more years previously. Being Jewish it is unlikely he spoke like a ...
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136 views

How do I know if a midrash is accepted?

I have found many different types of midrashic works. Some are, as far as I can tell, accepted as being authoritative. Meaning they were written (compiled?) by the sages in roughly the talmudic era. ...
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74 views

Halachic extension of the Giving of the Torah and marriage analogy

The sages frequently liken the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai to a chuppah (wedding ceremony), where Hashem is symbolized by the chosson (groom) and the Knesses Yisroel is symbolized by the kallah ...
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201 views

References for learning Aggada

I often run into aggadic passages in the Talmud, and would like to get a list of references beyond the standard 4 (Ein Yaakov, Maharsha, Benayahu/Ben Yehoyada and the Chiddushei Aggados of the ...
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149 views

Seforim with Drashos on the Torah (Recommendation)

What are good Seforim for using to help in developing drashos to say on the weekly Parsha (i.e. to use as a starting point, to quote, to find Medreshim, "nice vertlach", various "p'shatim" in pasukim, ...
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114 views

Did HaShem “regret” creating someone/something

I heard once that it says somewhere in Chazal that there were certain things or people that HaShem "regretted" (had "charatah") in creating. Although I don't remember which examples were given or if a ...
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42 views

Symbolic relationship between Mothers and Exiles

I am interested in what is the correspondence between the Four Mothers (Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah) and the Four Exiles (Babylonian, Persian/Medean, Greek and Roman). There is a lot of indirect ...
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42 views

War between Ten Tribes and Yehuda

There is a reference to Bereshis Rabba 65:20 and Vayikra Rabba 33:5 to 2 Chronicles 13:17 which says that 500,000 soldiers of the northern tribes killed by the army of Yehuda. The Midrash states that ...
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43 views

Charging interest to “your brother”

A deleted post from a long time ago made the claim that [W]e are [allowed to charge interest to other Jews] but not from immediate family. Even from another Jew, if he or she is not a member ...
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214 views

Why Ishmalites are accused of rejecting the Torah?

Being an Ishmalite myself i can clearly say that we don't reject the Torah as false as accused here. It is considered to be one of the revealed books by God and is called as "Torat" in our scripture. ...
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337 views

How did Vashti grow a tail?

In מגילה דף יב (Megillah 12a-b) it gives two reasons as to why Vashti did not go to Achashveirosh when he requested her to the party. The first reason is that Vashti had Tzarat (a metaphysical skin ...
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145 views

If Sarah's Death is a “Merit” for Cheshvan, Why Isn't Moshe's Death a “Merit” for Adar?

When I was young(er) I used to listen to to Toravision's Purim Story tape. (Yeah, I know, I'm dating myself.) It's a great tape, and the older I've gotten, the more it's amazed me how close the tape ...
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201 views

Midrashic sources regarding the Sea splitting into twelve paths

Tehilim 136:13 says: לְגֹזֵר יַם סוּף לִגְזָרִים כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ To Him Who cut the Sea of Reeds asunder, for His kindness is eternal. Rashi's commentary indicates that this is ...
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7answers
254 views

Why did Avraham wait to have a bris?

Chazal tells us (Midrash Rabbah Bereishis 64:4 and 95:3; Yoma 28b, based on. Gen. 26:5; Kiddushin 82a) that the Patriarchs observed the mitzvahs before they were given. But Avraham did not circumcize ...
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3answers
107 views

What is the talmudic or midrashic term for “do not take the text literally?”

I need a word that says the opposite of the term, כמשמעו.
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1answer
110 views

Aggadah Of Great Bird Destroying Towns

I once heard about Jewish aggada telling about big bird throwing huge eggs made of steel which were destroying towns. Does anyone knows if there such aggada exists and what the source for it is?
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217 views

Do angels have jealousy?

In a famous Midrash in Shab. 87a-b, the angels object to the Torah being given to humans, until Moshe proves that it is only relevant to humans because of their nature. In one example, he asks ...
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1answer
139 views

Did Kayin and Hevel grow quickly or were they born fully developed?

The sefer Seder Hadorot brings different opinions as to how old Hevel was when he was killed by Kayin. Bershit Rabbah Ch. 22: 50 days (or 90 days [Seder Hadorot says 50 is a printing mistake]) Ibn ...
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191 views

Why is the Evil Inclination Called a “Fool”?

Koheles (4:13), (as explained by the Midrash Rabba) describes the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) as "A king, old, and a fool". It explains: "...ולמה קורא אותו כסיל? שהוא מלמד לאדם דרך רעה...". ...
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113 views

Source of Midrash regarding Yaakov's saying Shema

There is a famous Rashi in Parashat Vayigash (46:29) where Rashi explains that Yaakov didn't cry on Yosef's shoulders because he was reciting Shema. He cryptically quotes this in the name of ...
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125 views

Years and years and years of Yishmael

Genesis 25:17 says: וְאֵלֶּה שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל מְאַת שָׁנָה וּשְׁלשִׁים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים וַיִּגְוַע וַיָּמָת וַיֵּאָסֶף אֶל עַמָּיו׃ And these are the years of the life of ...
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54 views

Why are tzadikim compared to myrtles?

The gemarah (megillah 13b, sanhedrin 93a) states that tzadikim are compared to haddasim. We also know that of the four species the haddas is described as only having a pleasant fragrance but not a ...
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71 views

Yaakov's Stone Pillow

Yaakov placed twelve stones around his head to protect him from animals. Why was he not scared that animals would attack the rest of his body and how would those small stones, which were small enough ...
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2answers
87 views

is there an authoritative list of the ways to expound the torah?

We are all familiar with Rebbi Yishmael's 13 principles for expounding the torah, however there are other systems not included in his list. I remember once hearing a shiur that there are over 40 ways ...
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1answer
305 views

Was Joseph considered a Tzaddik as he went down to Egypt?

Rashi on 37 (25) cites the Medrash about what the camels were carrying: and their camels were carrying, etc.: Why did Scripture publicize their burden? To let you know the reward of the ...
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71 views

Is there a sourced edition of Tz'enah Ur'enah?

Tz'enah Ur'enah looks like a worthwhile collection of midrashim -- insightful, accessible, and physically easy to read (this last is why I'm less likely to curl up with my Sefer Ha-Aggadah for an ...
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195 views

Why can't Moshe hit the water?

As a kid I learned that Moshe wasn't allowed to hit the water because it saved him when he was a child and he had to show hakaras hatov (similar answer for why he couldn't hit the sand that saved him ...
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1answer
151 views

What do Chazal mean when they say that when Moshiach comes there will be another note added to the octave making a total of 8 notes?

Related: What were Chazal referring to when they said there were 7 notes in a musical octave? There is a well known Medrash (anyone help with the source?) [I think on the Posuk 'Lamnatzeich Al ...
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159 views

What were Chazal referring to when they said there were 7 notes in a musical octave?

Related: What do Chazal mean when they say that when Moshiach comes there will be another note added to the octave making a total of 8 notes? There is a well known Medrash (anyone help with the ...