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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21
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987 views

Anyone who says these people sinned is mistaken. For real?

The Gemara (Talmud Bavli Shabbos 55b-56b) relates that several Biblical figures who, from the text itself, seemed to have sinned, in reality did not. These statements take the form of "כל האומר פלוני ...
19
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7answers
1k views

does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally?

Does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally?
19
votes
1answer
927 views

What happened to Zeresh (Haman's wife)?

Virtually all of the major characters (and some of the minor ones) in Megillas Esther have a clear ending for them. Mordechai and Esther live happily ever after (sort of). Haman and his ten songs are ...
15
votes
1answer
101 views

Did the brothers know about the snakes and scorpions in the pit?

Yosef's brothers took him and threw him into a pit (Bereishis 37:24). Chazal tell us that the pit had snakes and scorpions in it (see Rashi there). Reuvein seems to think he is saving Yosef by ...
14
votes
7answers
685 views

How did the moon shrink?

The Bavli, Chulin 60:2, says (in my own loose translation): Rabbi Shim'on ben Pazi noted a contradiction: [B'reshis 1:16] says, "God made the two big luminaries" and "the big luminary… and ...
13
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4answers
4k views

Basic laws, why is milk with meat not kosher?

I've recently read (again) the verse "לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו", meaning, "Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk". How did anyone get from that, to "Don't eat meat with milk at all"? I've always ...
13
votes
1answer
166 views

At what age should we start teaching the distinction between Midrash and Text?

At a very early age children learn the history of the world and the Jews through the enthralling stories found in many varied sources. They learn that the world was created in six days; that ...
13
votes
4answers
482 views

Flying and sorcery

Rashi (Sanhedrin 44b, s.v. D'ba'ya) relates the story of Shimon ben Shetach's capture of 80 witches. He instructed his students to pick up the witches because the sorcery would be powerless against ...
12
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5answers
402 views

Halachot learned from gematria

The gemara in nazir learns that an unspecified nezirut is 30 days long from the pasuk "kadosh yihyeh" with yihyeh having gematria 30. Can anyone think of other places where halachot are learned from ...
12
votes
1answer
174 views

Was Og responsible to follow the commandments for B'nei Noach?

The Midrash relates that Og, later to become King of Bashan, survived the flood in the generation of Noach (Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, 23). Was he responsible for following the seven commandments despite ...
11
votes
3answers
777 views

Moshe and the Red-Hot Coals

A midrash that myself and I'm sure many others have heard in grade school is that when Moshe was a baby, still crawling, his "grandfather" Pharaoh, incited by an incident in which Moshe took off ...
11
votes
2answers
371 views

Why do we say that Hashem chose us if He offered to the Torah to all the other nations first?

According to Midrash Sifri (Deuteronomy 343), Hashem first went around to all the nations and offered them the Torah before offering it to Bnei Yisroel. So why do we say in Kiddush and Birchas ...
10
votes
5answers
345 views

Why did Esther make two parties; why not just one?

What was the purpose of the two parties that Esther made for Haman and Achashverosh (Esther 5:4–8 and chapter 7), if one could have done the job? In other words, what happened that she needed a ...
10
votes
5answers
233 views

Where was 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?
10
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2answers
180 views

When was Moshe conceived?

We know that Amram and Yocheved (Moshe and Miriam's parents) divorced so as not to give birth to baby boys and Miriam explained to them that they should get remarried because not only are they killing ...
10
votes
3answers
238 views

How did Avrohom learn that nine doesn't work?

The Midrash says (Bereshis Rabbah 49:13 quoted in Rashi Genesis 18:32) that Abraham stopped asking HaShem to save Sodom in the merit of less than 10 people because Noah and his family who were 8 ...
9
votes
4answers
290 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
299 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
136 views

Why did the 40th-year Jews think they'd erred about Av? Sanhedrin had declared it

Rashi says that ובשנת ארבעים שנה עשו ולמחר עמדו כולן חיים וכיון שראו כך תמהו ואמרו שמא טעינו בחשבון החדש חזרו ושכבו בקבריהן בלילות עד ליל חמשה עשר וכיון שראו שנתמלאה הלבנה בט"ו ולא מת אחד מהם ...
9
votes
2answers
141 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
148 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
107 views

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 ...
8
votes
3answers
604 views

Belief in midrashim

The ramban in sefer havikuach asserts with regard to medrash " mi shemaamin bo tov, mi shelo maamin bo lo yazik" whoever believes in it, good, he who does not believe it, will not be harmed. Are ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

What does the angel Gavriel represent?

In trying to come up with an answer to this question, I became aware that the angel Gavriel plays a common role in several aggados and midrashim. Not only in the midrash with Moshe and the burning ...
8
votes
2answers
567 views

Why 1,000 generations of ungiven Torah, not X years?

The Mainz Anonymous reads, in part (in my own translation): He created the Torah 974 generations before the world was created, then twenty-six generations [passed] from the creation of the world ...
8
votes
1answer
61 views

Why does “בני ישראל” sometimes include גרים and sometimes not?

Tosafos (to Suka 28, Sanhedrin 86, and M'nachos 61; and Tos'fos Harosh to Sanhedrin 86) cite various verses containing the words "בני ישראל", b'ne Yisrael. In some cases, they note, the g'mara seeks ...
8
votes
2answers
133 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
227 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
275 views

Sefer Milhamot Hashem - from Bamidbar 21:14

Does anyone know of any discussion of the the "sefer Milkhamot Hashem" mentioned in Bamidbar 21:14? Someone had asked me about the content of the book and I had no idea of what to answer him.
7
votes
4answers
222 views

Ben Noach Stealing less then a Perutah

The Medrash Rabbah בראשית ל''א ס''ק ה says that what the people of the Dor Hamabul did in order not to have to be punished by their courts is to steal less that a Prutah (minimal Monetary Value) which ...
7
votes
2answers
142 views

Explanation of the midrash of the Donkey of moshe

In Shmot 4:20, Rashi explains that the donkey which Moshe took on the way to Egypt was the same donkey which Avraham used for the akeda (Binding of Isaac), and this is the donkey of the Mashiach. ...
7
votes
3answers
219 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...". ...
7
votes
3answers
180 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
145 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
229 views

What did women have to do with the moon's shrinking?

In the Mishna Berurah (426:1) it says (with loose translation): ונשים פטורות מלקדש הלבנה דהוי מ"ע שהזמן גרמא ואף דכל מ"ע שהזמן גרמא נוהגות הנשים שמקיימות ומברכות עליהן מ"מ מצוה זו אין צריכין ...
7
votes
1answer
110 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
114 views

Who did the Avos give maaser to?

Rashi in parshas Toldos (25:27) tells us about Esav: יודע ציד: לצוד ולרמות את אביו בפיו, ושואלו אבא היאך מעשרין את המלח ואת התבן, כסבור אביו שהוא מדקדק במצות׃ who understood hunting: [He knew ...
7
votes
3answers
107 views

Understanding the cherem to tell Yaakov that Yosef was alive

In Bereshis 37:33 Rashi cites the midrash that the brothers pronounced an excommunication and curse on anyone who would reveal what they did. This is why God, as well as Yitzhak didn't tell Yaakov. I ...
7
votes
1answer
229 views

Criteria for the list of Nashim Kesheiros (Medrash Breishis Rabsi)

The Medrash Breishis Rabsi Parshas Chaya Sara 23:1 lists 22* Nashim Kesheiros. כ"ב נשים כשרות היו בעולם ואלו הן שרה, רבקה, רחל, לאה, סרח בת אשר, יוכבד, מרים, בתיה בת פרעה, דבורה, צללפונית אשת מנוח, ...
7
votes
1answer
483 views

Published Ladino version of Meam Lo'ez?

The Me'am Lo'ez (מעם לועז‎), begun by Rabbi Yaakov Culi in 1730, is a commentary to Tanakh written in Ladino. It was subsequently translated to Hebrew and translated from the Hebrew to English in a ...
6
votes
7answers
273 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 Maharal)...
6
votes
6answers
231 views

Why is the test (Nisayon) of Kivshan Haish not mentioned in the Torah?

One of the difficult tests Avraham Avinu faced was when Nimrod threw him into the (Kivshan Haish) fire. It is not mentioned in the Torah at all. Why?
6
votes
5answers
245 views

God's Pair of Teffilin

How when moshe turns his head not to see God's face, he sees He's got on teffilin? I thought God had no physical form.
6
votes
4answers
297 views

How do Rishonim argue on Drashos Chazal?

There is a known rule that Rishonim cannot argue on the Gemara when it comes to "Halachic" drashos. For example, a Rishon will never give a different answer to a question which the Gemara already ...
6
votes
1answer
204 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
787 views

How were Achiman, Sheshai and Talmai “Sons of Giants”?

In Bamidbar 13:22, the Torah tells us that the spies saw Achiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the sons of Giants. Rashi tells us they were the descendants of Shamchazai and Azael, angels who fell from heaven ...
6
votes
2answers
89 views

In Sifra, what's the difference between a 'perek' and a 'parshata'

Sifra, or Torat Kohanim, has an unusual layout. Within each Parasha, the book is divided into sections called 'Perek' and 'Parshata'. Neither one appears to contain the other, they appear one after ...
6
votes
1answer
90 views

What does 'the New Torah' in these medrashim mean?

The Yalkut Shimoni on Yishaya, remez 429, mentions how Hashem will sit and be doresh a new Torah that he will give by the hand of Moshiach. This medrash is apparently taken from the Osios diRabi ...
6
votes
1answer
113 views

Daddy, is this story true?

My daughter was reading a parsha book and came across a certain medrash which seemed unbelievable prompting her to ask me 'daddy, is this story real?' Being that she is only nine I took the cheap way ...
6
votes
2answers
507 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 [...