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

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How did Hevel offer an animal sacrifice, wasn't it forbidden to kill animals?

In Bereshit 4:4, Hevel offers his choicest sheep as a sacrifice to G-d. However, in Bereshit 1:29-30, Adam is told he is only allowed to eat vegetables, and Rashi explains that he was forbidden to ...
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Selah ~ Does it mean 'forever' 'certainly' 'basket' 'pause', 'yahoo', a kabbalistic meditative device, or none of the above?

Does anyone know a Jewish interpretation of "selah" in the psalms? Literally it seems to mean something about basket or hanging, but I don't know how this works into psalms. Jewish sites say it may ...
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108 views

Why not “Where is Achashverosh in the Torah”?

In Chullin 139b, the Gemara asks about hints in the Torah for several of the figures in the Megillah, and provides answers: "Where is {Haman, Esther, Mordechai} hinted at in the Torah?" ...
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214 views

Why is Jacob idolized and not villainised?

I've just read the story of Jacob and Esau (Bereishis ch. 25 and 27), and I fail to understand why Jacob is consistently portrayed and idolized as a protagonist and a hero - based on what I've read, I ...
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305 views

Did all animals come into the Teiva?

Were there any type of animals that were destroyed completely by the Mabul? (For example - Is there any source that there were dinosaurs or any other type of wildlife and they were destroyed by the ...
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304 views

Different types of Nevuah

What are the differences between the "typical" navi's prophecy, Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy, and Bil'am HaRasha's prophecy? (Answers with sources [and preferably links to sources] only please!)
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How do scientists such as Natan Aviezer and Gerald Schroeder understand the fourth day of creation?

If I understand correctly, scientists such as Natan Aviezer and Gerald Schroeder have readings of Genesis Chapter 1 that fit with the current scientific understanding of how the universe/planet/life ...
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165 views

Why are the Meraglim in that order?

The meraglim (scouts) and their shevet (tribe) are listed in a strange order in Bemidbar 13: Reuven Shimon Yehuda Yissachar Ephraim Binyamin Zevulun (Of Yosef): Menashe Dan Asher Naftali Gad As ...
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130 views

Didn’t the Ishmaelites know they were buying their second cousin?

In studying bereishis I have come up with questions about Joseph and his brothers that have long bothered me. One question is in parsha vayeshev, where we read how Joseph was sold by his brothers to ...
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364 views

Why does Rashi not comment on the repetition of the word “shono” in the age of Yishmoel?

Rashi comments on the repetition of the word “shono” in the ages of both Soroh Braishis 23 (1) and Avrohom Braishis 25 (7). Why is there no comment for the age of Yishmoel which also repeats “shono” ...
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verb + its infinitive

Many, many times in Tanach, including Chumash, a verb has its infinitive nearby. Examples include B'reshis 2:16 מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל (I think that's the first example in Chumash) and ...
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Why does the Torah switch around the order of annulling vows in the summary?

In the beginning of Parshas Matos, the Torah first describes the process of a father annulling the oaths of his daughter (30:4-6), and then afterwards the the law of a husband doing so for his wife's ...
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80 views

Should Shaul have killed Yonasan?

In Shmuel alef 14 a confusing scenario arises. First Yonasan (and his armor bearer) go out to the camp of the Plishtim. Then Shaul curses anyone who will eat bread that day until evening (pasuk 24). ...
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Why was Akeidas Yitzchok a bigger test (Nisayon) for Avraham than for Yitzchok?

Akeidas Yitzchok was the hardest test that Hashem gave to Avraham. Yet Yitzchok knew and also agreed to go along with it. Then why is it considered a bigger test for Avraham than for Yitzchok?
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Why did Hashem start the Torah with a story?

Why did Hashem start the Torah with a story?
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How is “החודש הזה לכם” the first mitzva?

The following question came up in this week's Parshat Hashavua' Chat: Rashi, at the beginning of his commentary to the Torah: אמר רבי יצחק: לא היה צריך להתחיל [את] התורה אלא (שמות יב ב) מהחודש ...
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Why did Rivka consult Shem, and not Avraham or Yitzchok?

The Posuk says (Gen. 25:22) regarding Rivka: וַיִּתְרֹצֲצוּ הַבָּנִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ וַתֹּאמֶר אִם כֵּן לָמָּה זֶּה אָנֹכִי וַתֵּלֶךְ לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת יְ־הֹוָ־ה Translated as: And the children ...
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Why didn't Yosef's brothers recognize him?

The Posuk says (Genesis 42:8): וַיַּכֵּר יוֹסֵף אֶת אֶחָיו וְהֵם לֹא הִכִּרֻהוּ Translated as: Now Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him The question is: How did ...
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Why build migdal bavel in a valley?

If the point of migdal bavel was to reach the heavens, why not build it on a mountain instead of a valley? וַיְהִי כָל הָאָרֶץ שָׂפָה אֶחָת וּדְבָרִים אֲחָדִים:(ב) וַיְהִי בְּנָסְעָם מִקֶּדֶם ...
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What did the 70 elders see?

Parshat Mishpatim says of the 70 elders who went up on Har Sinai with Moshe and Aharon: וַיִּרְאוּ, אֵת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְתַחַת רַגְלָיו, כְּמַעֲשֵׂה לִבְנַת הַסַּפִּיר, וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם, ...
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279 views

Why only beginning with the fourth plague is the exemption of the Jews mentioned?

In Moshe's warning to Pharaoh (in Hashem's name) of the fourth plague, arov, he adds (Ex. 8:18-19): וְהִפְלֵיתִי בַיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת-אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן אֲשֶׁר עַמִּי עֹמֵד עָלֶיהָ לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת-שָׁם ...
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100 views

How did Yaakov hear about Dinah?

Genesis 34 tells about Shechem's rape of Dinah and the events that follow. 34:5 says that Yaakov heard ( שָׁמַע) about this (and didn't act immediately). He didn't hear it from Dinah because she ...
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395 views

Did the Egyptians use whips on the Hebrew slaves? Why do we assume so?

It seems like every image I've ever seen drawn (or acted) of the Jews' slavery in Egypt involves them being whipped by Egyptians. The Torah says that the Jewish foremen were stricken as their ...
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What is Rashi proving with words in different languages

There are many places in Rashi's commentary where he uses a foreign language to translate a word used in the Torah. For example, Bereshit 6:14: בכפר: זפת בלשון ארמי. ומצינו בתלמוד כופרא With ...
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291 views

What does it mean that God will blot out sinners from his book?

In Parshat Ki Tisa, after the golden calf, Moshe pleads for God to forgive them, saying if not, blot me out of your book. The text then says: 33 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Whosoever hath ...
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189 views

Sarah's treatment of Hagar and Ishmael

How could Sarah's treatment of Hagar and Ishmael be considered righteous? I intend this as a sincere and serious question. While Hagar was pregnant, Sarah "prevent[ed] her intercourse with Abraham, ...
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175 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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What are the rules for ain mukdam umeuchar?

Sometimes we say that things in the Torah are not in chronological order. What are the parameters for this? do you need to have a mesorah (particular tradition) for this? Is there a list of all ...
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94 views

“A life for a life”: execution or reparations

The Torah states (Ex. 21:23) that if two people are fighting and accidentally kill an innocent bystander (such as a woman), "you shall give a life for a life." The Gemara (Sanhedrin 79a-b) records a ...
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Song of the 5 Kings?

In Joshua 12:9-24 there is Joshua's famous song of triumph over the 31 Kings of the Land of Canaan which he conquered. The song (and it is a song per the Talmud Megillah 16b) is structured in two ...
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Question on Rashi - Yisro 20:8

On the Posuk "Zochor Es Yom HaShabos L'Kadsho", Rashi says תנו לב לזכור תמיד את יום השבת שאם נזדמן לו חלק יפה יהא מזמינו לשבת (Take heart to remember the Shabbos - if you find something nice ...
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Chanukah and Miketz

What is the connection between Chanukah and Miketz — as, in most years, Chanukah falls out in this Parsha?
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Was Potiphor a Eunuch?

I ask because on the one hand he and some of Pharoh's other servants are described in the Hebrew as סריס, but the translations I've seen are usually in the vein of Lord Servant. For instance, my IDF ...
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117 views

Did Esther eat at the first feast she made for the king and Haman?

Esther 5:1,5:4 says that Esther made the first feast on the third day of the fast. Earlier (4:16), Esther tells Mordechai that she will also fast for three days. Did she eat at the feast, or was ...
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169 views

Why did the Mitzryim turn water into blood rather than vice versa?

Why didn't the Mitzryim magic makers just take away the blood from the first makkah to prove to Moshe that he was just doing magic and Hashem had nothing to do with it: why did they add blood (Exodus ...
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248 views

Why was Moshe buried alone?

Why did Hashem bury Moshe in an unknown place, and did not do so with other great Tzadikim like Avraham, Yitchak and Yaakov?
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Ten plagues of Egypt: hail and pestilence

According to Moses, the fifth plague of Egypt killed all livestock except that of Israel. If all were killed, then why did Moses warn the Pharaoh to bring his cattle to shelter before the hail? The ...
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Does “ki” have four meanings or one?

There is a well-known statement by Resh Lakish in Gitin (90) that כי" משמש בד' לשונות: אי, דלמא, אלא, דהא" "ki" expresses four meanings... There has been discussion over the ages as to what ...
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Esav is coming with 400 men - is there a significance to the 400 men?

In Parshas Vayishlach Eisav comes to meet Yaakov with 400 men. Is there a significance to the amount of men that were with Eisav?
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What is the difference between the words “tzur” and “selah” (which both mean rock)?

Beshalach (Shmot 17:6): ... you shall strike the rock (tzur) and water will come forth from it ... Chukat (Bamidbar 20:8): ... speak to the rock (selah) before their eyes and it shall give ...
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Why didn't Noach Pray for his generation like Avraham did for Sodom

Why didn't Noach Daven to save his generation like Avraham Davened for Sodom?
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Why blessings on Mt. Gerizim and curses on Mt. Ebal?

Devarim 11:29 says: וְהָיָה, כִּי יְבִיאֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-אַתָּה בָא-שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ--וְנָתַתָּה אֶת-הַבְּרָכָה עַל-הַר גְּרִזִים, וְאֶת-הַקְּלָלָה עַל-הַר עֵיבָל. ...
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Why isn't נִצָּבָה redundant?

In Bereshis 37:7 we read: וְהִנֵּה אֲנַחְנוּ מְאַלְּמִים אֲלֻמִּים בְּתוֹךְ הַשָּׂדֶה וְהִנֵּה קָמָה אֲלֻמָּתִי וְגַם נִצָּבָה - Behold, we were binding sheaves in the midst of the field, and ...
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Most children in sefer B'reishit are named by women or God; why does Yehudah name Er?

I noticed in B'reishit 38 that Yehudah names his first son Er, but his wife bat Shua names the other two. Yaakov's wives name all of their children (except that Yaakov changes Ben-oni to Binyanim). ...
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93 views

Which commentators commend Yosef for noticing his fellow prisoners' sadness?

Toward the end of Parashat Vayeishev, Yosef is imprisoned along with two of Par'oh's chief servants. Starting in Gen. 40:6, the Torah tells us that he notices that they look sad, asks why, and ...
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Question about the actions of Pinchas when he killed Zimri

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 82A), while relating the story of Pinchas killing Zimri, tells us the following: "And Phineas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it." (Bamidbar 25:7) Now, ...
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267 views

What's the difference between כשב and כבש?

What's the difference between כשב and כבש? Why does the Torah use both?
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Meggilas Rus - Leket, Shikcha, and Peah

When Rus went out into the field to pick up the Shikcha (dropped or forgotten crops which must be left for the poor), Boaz sees her great piety and tells his servants to drop more on purpose so that ...
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Why is there a “Good” Type of Tzaraas?

I understand there's the type that actually makes a person Tamei, because the person did bad things (e.g. spoke Lashon Hara). But assuming tzaraas stems from a spiritual affliction, what purpose does ...
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“There is a son born to Naomi”? But it's a grandson — what's up with that?

In chapter 4 of Rut, after Boaz performs yibum with Rut and she bears a son, it says: וַתִּקְרֶאנָה לוֹ הַשְּׁכֵנוֹת שֵׁם לֵאמֹר, יֻלַּד-בֵּן לְנָעֳמִי; וַתִּקְרֶאנָה שְׁמוֹ עוֹבֵד, הוּא ...