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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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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226 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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34 views

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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175 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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91 views

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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84 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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94 views

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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222 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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63 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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218 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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41 views

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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92 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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2answers
74 views

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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119 views

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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65 views

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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143 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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53 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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25 views

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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93 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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147 views

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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58 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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114 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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77 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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247 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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74 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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53 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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160 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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131 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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134 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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105 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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129 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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128 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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118 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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182 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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117 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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355 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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211 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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54 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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374 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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226 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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239 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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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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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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213 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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156 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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124 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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46 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 ...