interpretation of parts of Tanach by close reading, not derivation (Pronounced "par-sha-noot")

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What did Nadav and Avihu do wrong?

Leviticus 10 tells about the death of Aaron's sons: Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized[a] fire before ...
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Did Prof. Rabbi Umberto Cassuto have any insight behind the biblical character Yehudah?

I am the great grandson of Umberto Cassuto, Benyamin Enzo Rocca, and 5 days ago my wife and I were blessed with a son (3rd child). With his upcoming bris in a few days I would like to know if anyone ...
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Why did God finally lose it after the episode with the spies?

In Bamidbar (Book of Numbers), after the spies come back with their negative report about Israel, God says: אַכֶּנּוּ בַדֶּבֶר וְאוֹרִשֶׁנּוּ וְאֶעֱשֶׂה אֹתְךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ. ...
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How to reconcile a sod the conflicts with the peshat?

We have a tradition that the Torah can be learned with four methods: pshat, remez, derush and sod. It is also known that the pshat (simple meaning) holds true. If so, how then can it be reconciled ...
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Why was Eisav approaching?

Yaakov spends 20 years in the house of Lavan, after which he starts heading home. He sends messengers ahead to check on his brother Eisav (Bereishis 32:4). The messengers return and inform Yaakov ...
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Why didn't Rivka summon Yaakov?

Rivka told Yaakov to remain at the home of Lavan until she summoned him (Bereishis 27:45). However, we never find that Rivka sent for him, and Yaakov ended up leaving at Hashem's instruction ...
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Why is the wording “הערים האל” used? (Deut 4:42)

Devarim 4:42: לָנֻס שָׁמָּה רוֹצֵחַ אֲשֶׁר יִרְצַח אֶת רֵעֵהוּ בִּבְלִי דַעַת וְהוּא לֹא שֹׂנֵא לוֹ מִתְּמוֹל שִׁלְשׁוֹם וְנָס אֶל אַחַת מִן הֶעָרִים הָאֵל וָחָי so that a murderer might ...
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Was Zerach really the first born?

וַיְהִי בְלִדְתָּהּ וַיִּתֶּן יָד וַתִּקַּח הַמְיַלֶּדֶת וַתִּקְשֹׁר עַל יָדוֹ שָׁנִי לֵאמֹר זֶה יָצָא רִאשֹׁנָה And it came about when she gave birth, that he (the infant) stretched out his ...
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What was the main job duty of Sar Hatabahim?

The word Tabah means to cook. In modern Hebrew, a Mitbah is a kitchen. In Arabic, Tabaha means "he cooked". And yet, from what I can find, nearly all Biblical commentators, Jewish and gentile, by the ...
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Do any commentaries explain the charade that Yosef put the brothers through as done with bad intention?

It seems that over the last few hundred years all the commentators that have written on the subject, and all the darshanim I hear talking about it, take for granted that the entire episode concerning ...
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Re-explaining parshanut when the explanation is given

Over Shabbos, I heard the same dvar Torah twice - basically, that which the Talmud says Yaakov went back for his small vessels that he had forgotten (Bereishis 32:25) was because he understood that ...
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Why mention the ger in Lev 19:10, 23:22?

Vayikra 23:22: וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם אֶת קְצִיר אַרְצְכֶם לֹא תְכַלֶּה פְּאַת שָׂדְךָ בְּקֻצְרֶךָ וְלֶקֶט קְצִירְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט לֶעָנִי וְלַגֵּר תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם When you reap the harvest of your ...
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Justification for Killing all of Shechem

What was the justification for Shimon and Levi's killing all the males of Shechem in parshas Vayishlach? I assume some people there were not in a position to prevent what happened or that their ...
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Meaning of מעשה אבות סימן לבנים

I have heard the phrase מעשה אבות סימן לבנים (Don't recall its source). Does it mean: The actions that our forefathers performed serve as signs for the children's actions (I.e. - we should emulate ...
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Why are the sons of Dishohn listed twice?

Breishit 36:26 and 36:28 list the sons of Dishohn twice. Why is there a break of 1 verse in the middle, instead of including all the children together in one verse?
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Who is דישון? Contradiction in 2 verses

Breishit 36:21 list דישון as the son of Se'ir, but verse 25 lists him as the son of Ana, which would make him a grandson of Se'ir. Which is it? Why the contradiction?
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Gender in Vayishlach 33:6-7

In Vayishlach (Bereishis 33:6-7), Yaakov's wives and children bow to Esav. With regard to the maidservants and their sons, the verse states וַתִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶיןָ - in the feminine, whereas by Leah and ...
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“Lamah zeh tish'al l'shmi” — zeh shmi

Bereishit 32:30 וַיִּשְׁאַל יַעֲקֹב וַיֹּאמֶר הַגִּידָה נָּא שְׁמֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָמָּה זֶּה תִּשְׁאַל לִשְׁמִי וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתוֹ שָׁם is usually translated as: And Jacob asked and said, "Now ...
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Why does Yaakov mention the two camps to Hashem?

When Yaakov was praying to Hashem in chapter 32, he points out in verse 11 how much Hashem has done for him by saying כי במקלי עברתי את הירדן הזה ועתה הייתי לשני מחנות, 'for with my stick I crossed ...
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“And Yisrael heard” — and immediately we start counting sons, without a pasuk break. Why?

Bereishit 35:22 goes straight from Reuven lying with Bilhah and Yisrael hearing about it into the introduction of the list of sons to follow: ‫ וַיְהִי, בִּשְׁכֹּן יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָרֶץ הַהִוא, ...
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Why is Yaakov calling Esau “Master”?

It is stated in this weeks Parsha, Parshas Vayishlach 32:5: That he commanded them, saying, "This is what you should say to my master to Esau, 'this is what is what your servant Yaakov said, "I ...
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Why is Yaakov later willing to say אלוהי יצחק?

In Bereishit 31:42, Yaakov says אֱלֹהֵ֣י אָבִי֩ אֱלֹהֵ֨י אַבְרָהָ֜ם וּפַ֤חַד יִצְחָק֙ Rashi there: ופחד יצחק. לא רצה לומר אלהי יצחק, שאין הקדוש ברוך הוא מיחד שמו על הצדיקים בחייהם, ואף על פי ...
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Bereshit 15:13 question

Regarding the foretold 400 years in Bereshit 15:13-14 and Shemot 12:40 i read that the 430 years of exile began when Avraham joined the covenant with HaShem when he made the covenant between the parts ...
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Where does this midrash (for Vayetze) come from?

Yeshayahu Leibowitz, in his book, Accepting the Yoke of Heaven, quotes a midrash before concluding his parsha analysis: All those things which Jacob wished to refrain from, came upon him. He ...
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How good was Yaakov's trickery?

Yaakov told Rachel that " וַיַּגֵּד יַעֲקֹב לְרָחֵל כִּי אֲחִי אָבִיהָ הוּא וְכִי בֶן רִבְקָה הוּא וַתָּרָץ וַתַּגֵּד לְאָבִיהָ:" And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's kinsman and that he ...
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Why all the talk about colored sheep and goats?

In the VaYetze weekly reading (Parasha) there is a long description of the colors of the sheep and goat: Akudim, Nekutim... What is the reason behind all of this descriptions? If the text wanted to ...
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Rashi Shemos 14:4 seems to contradict later experience in the Midbar

Rashi says in Parshas Beshalach Shemos 14:4, sv ויעשו כן: [This is stated] to tell their praise, that they obeyed Moshe and did not say, “How will we draw near to our enemies [by returning in ...
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Why is it repeating something that's already known?

It is stated in Shemos Parshas Beshalach 14:4 the following: "And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will be glorified through Pharaoh and through his entire army, and the ...
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Doesn't Yaakov have רוח הקודש

In this week's parsha (Bereishit 31:32), Yaakov says that whoever stole Lavan's idols will not live, not knowing that Rochel had taken them. Doesn't Yaakov have רוח הקודש he should have known that it ...
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When Yaakov said “whoever stole the idols will not live”, was that a curse or vow?

In this week's parsha (Bereishit 31:32), Yaakov says that whoever stole Lavan's idols will not live, not knowing that Rachel had taken them. The question is, was this said as a curse or a neder ...
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Where did Yitzchok pull out the blessing for Eisav from?

My paraphrased summary of Bereishit 27:30-39: Eisav comes in to get his blessing. Yitzchok tells him that he already gave the blessing away. Eisav says "bless me too!" Yitzchok says "Sorry, I'm ...
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Why does the posuk emphasise that Lavan was Ya’akov’s uncle?

It says in Bereishis 29:10: וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר רָאָה יַעֲקֹב אֶת-רָחֵל, בַּת-לָבָן אֲחִי אִמּוֹ, וְאֶת-צֹאן לָבָן, אֲחִי אִמּוֹ; וַיִּגַּשׁ יַעֲקֹב, וַיָּגֶל אֶת-הָאֶבֶן מֵעַל פִּי הַבְּאֵר, ...
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How did Rashi know that Ya’akov initially intended to go straight to Haran?

Rashi comments on the posuk in Bereishis 28:10 - “And Ya’akov went out from Be’er Sheva and went to Haran” - that the phrase “went to Haran” means that he left to go to Haran. Rashi seems to be ...
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Is Ber. 26 in the proper chronological place?

In Bereishit 25 twins are born and they grow up. Though I don't know how old they are by the end of the perek, they are at least 13. Then in perek 26, there is a famine and Yitzchak must go to Gerar. ...
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Since Yitzchok appears to have a doubt about the identity of the person whom he wished to bless, why didn’t he wait and make sure?

From what Yitzchok says in Bereishis 27:22 “the voice is the voice of Ya’akov, and the hands are the hands of Eisav” it seems that he had a doubt as to the identity of the person who had come to ...
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Why does Eliezer change facts in retelling what happened at the well?

There are 4 times in parshat Chayeii Sarah that the events at the well are related: The first is 24:14 (English from the chabad website) - what Eliezer prays for And it will be, [that] the maiden ...
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Sukkot--Object or place name?

Does anyone translate "סֻכּוֹת" in Vayikra 23:43 as a place name rather than an object (see Shmot 12:37 and 13:20, where it's a place name)? Might the Toarah mean "celebrate Sukkot because that's the ...
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What is the significance of the gifts that Eliezer gave to Rivka?

The verse states (24:22): ויקח האיש נזם זהב בקע משקלו ושני צמידים על ידיה עשרה זהב משקלם the man took a golden nose ring, weighing half [a shekel], and two bracelets for her hands, weighing ...
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Is there a connection between Hagar's distance and Yishmael's profession?

The Torah tells us that Hagar sat an archer's distance away from Yishmael as he lay crying, Genesis 21 verse 16. After he is miraculously saved he lives in the desert and is described as a רובה קשת, ...
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Regarding Avraham's responses to G-d's decisions

Are there any mefarshim who commented on why Avraham chose to advocate on behalf of Sdom when G-d tells him that the city will be destroyed, but chose to remain silent and just accept the decree when ...
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Would Avraham's tefillah have been necessary to save Sedom?

Let's say there actually would have been 50 (or 45, or 40...) righteous people in Sedom. Would Hashem have destroyed the city without Avraham's tefillah but saved it due to his tefillah? Was Avraham ...
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Questions regarding Sarah's denial in Breishit 18:15

Breishit 18:15 says (Mechon Mamre / JPS in English): Then Sarah denied, saying: 'I laughed not'; for she was afraid. And He said: 'Nay; but thou didst laugh. Apparently, Sarah laughed because ...
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How did Pharaoh know that Sarai was Avram's wife?

When Avimelech took Sarah, Hashem came to him in a dream and told him to return Avraham's wife (Bereishis 20:3). When Pharaoh took her, no such event is recorded in the Torah. Pharaoh's household ...
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Blatant foreshadowing in the Torah

Genesis 13:10 has the following verse: ויישא-לוט את-עיניו, וירא את-כל-כיכר הירדן, כי כולה, משקה--לפני שחת יהוה, את-סדום ואת-עמורה, כגן-יהוה כארץ מצריים, בואכה צוער Translation of bold: ...
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Where was Abraham coming from in Genesis 13:9

When Abraham and Lot separate in Genesis 13, Abraham tells Lot: הֲלֹא כָל-הָאָרֶץ לְפָנֶיךָ, הִפָּרֶד נָא מֵעָלָי: אִם-הַשְּׂמֹאל וְאֵימִנָה, וְאִם-הַיָּמִין וְאַשְׂמְאִילָה. "Is the whole land ...
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Were there more than just 2 or 7 pairs of animals on Noach's ark?

Noach was told to take a pair (male & female) of all non-clean animals, and 7 pairs of clean animals into the ark. However, Breishit 6:21 says: And take thou unto thee of all food that is ...
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The earlier an idea in the Torah is presented, the more primary it is

I remember hearing or reading once that ideas/lessons taught early on in the Torah (she'biksav), say in Be'reishis, are more primary ideas than those that are presented later on. My question is, does ...
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What is the difference between curses that would require changing lashon?

In parshat Lech Lecha, (Bereishit 12:3) Hashem promises Avram that וַאֲבָרְכָה, מְבָרְכֶיךָ, וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ, אָאֹר, And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. Why ...
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Why doesn't the king of Belah get a name?

Bereishis 14:2 names the 5 kings who were on Team B in the war between the 4 kings and the 5 kings. Regarding 4 of the 5 kings on Team B, we are told their name and their domain. But by the king of ...
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Why does Hashem allow Noah et al to eat *all* animals?

Reading the parsha today, I noticed for the first time that Bereishit 9:3-4 seems remarkable (JPS translations): .כָּל-רֶמֶשׂ אֲשֶׁר הוּא-חַי, לָכֶם יִהְיֶה לְאָכְלָה: כְּיֶרֶק עֵשֶׂב, נָתַתִּי ...