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

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Why is Bil'am not surprised that his mule is talking to him?

During the scene in parshat Balak, it says that "God opened the mule's mouth" and it asked Bil'am why he hit him. Bil'am answers the donkey. It seems that he is not surprised at all that the donkey is ...
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Why does Yitzchak's blessing of Yaakov refer to Yaakov's mother's *sons*?

B'reishit 27:29 reads: Let peoples serve thee, and nations bow down to thee. Be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee. Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and ...
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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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If shepherds are taboo to Egyptians, what do we make of them having sheep themselves?

Yosef tells his family to say they're shepherds because that's taboo to Egypt: you must say, 'We and our fathers have dealt in livestock all our lives'. You will then be able to settle in the ...
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Esav was coming with 400 men: why then

Why was Esav going toward Yaakov (Gen. 33:1, 32:7) if he had (27:41) planned to wait to kill him until Yitzchak was dead? (Please cite your source, if any.)
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Why not “Vayikra Hashem”

The first pasuk in Vayikra reads: וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֵלָיו…‏ And He called to Moshe, and God spoke to him… Why is the subject on the second verb? It would ...
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Why does Yosef bring his sons to Yaakov

Yaakov famously blesses Ephraim and Menashe but who tells Yosef to bring them to their grandfather? It doesn't seem that this would be a natural thing to do as they are not Yaakov's sons. Does ...
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How did the fish live through the flood?

If the waters were boiling as the flood continued, how did the fish survive throughout the Mabul?
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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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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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Where did the converts camp in the desert?

When the Bnai Yisrael left Egypt, many converts left with them. Shmot 12:38: וְגַם עֵרֶב רַב עָלָה אִתָּם וְצֹאן וּבָקָר מִקְנֶה כָּבֵד מְאֹד: And also, a great mixed multitude went up ...
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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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Why did Abraham treat his three visitors in this way?

I am new to this site. I'd like to ask some questions on the interpretation and cultural significance of the events in Genesis 18 in the Bible. First, why does Abraham have Sarah use 3 seahs of ...
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Moses lived 120 years, and tradition says no one can live longer, so why do they?

Genesis 6:3: And the LORD said: 'My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for that he also is flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.' In Deut. 34:7 the age of Moses upon his ...
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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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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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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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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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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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When Tana“ch uses the phrase ”until today" what does it mean?

There are numerous places where Tana"ch uses the phrase "עד היום" or "עד היום הזה" ("until\to this day"). Usually, this phrase is used regarding the names of cities, towns, etc. - occasionally, such ...
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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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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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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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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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Donkey Talked and an Angel Appeared - Who Knew?

Why is no mention made of the reaction, of Balak’s officers who were accompanying Bilaam, to the talking donkey or the revelation of the angel?
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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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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 Avraham tell Eliezer to go get Rivka?

In Parshas Chayei Sara, Avraham tells Eliezer to go find a wife for Yitzchok from his family, כִּי אֶל אַרְצִי וְאֶל מוֹלַדְתִּי תֵּלֵךְ וְלָקַחְתָּ אִשָּׁה לִבְנִי לְיִצְחָק:‏ and not from the ...
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Why did Aharon request that Hashem declare Miriam pure?

Rashi says that one of the meanings of Aharon's prayer regarding Miriam ("Let her not be like the dead, which comes out of his mother's womb with half his flesh consumed!"; Bamidbar 12:12) was that ...
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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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“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 ...
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Why can't Ploni Almoni be a real name, in Ruth?

The verse states (Ruth 4:1): וּבֹעַז עָלָה הַשַּׁעַר, וַיֵּשֶׁב שָׁם, וְהִנֵּה הַגֹּאֵל עֹבֵר אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר-בֹּעַז, וַיֹּאמֶר סוּרָה שְׁבָה-פֹּה פְּלֹנִי אַלְמֹנִי; וַיָּסַר, וַיֵּשֵׁב Now Boaz ...
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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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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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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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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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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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What was the reasoning of the 'scorners of the generation'?

Bereshit 25:19 reads: וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת יִצְחָק: And these are the generations of Isaac the son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac. Rashi: ...
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Referencing Iron before the Iron Age

A guest brought up this question at the shabbos table, and no one had an answer. In D'Varim 8:9 it says "...a land whose stones are iron...". The question this guest asked was: How is it that the ...
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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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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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Pardes… What actually happened?

Verses in the Bible traditionally have four different understandings: Pshat (simple meaning), Remez (derived meaning), Drash (investigative meaning), and Sod (esoteric meaning). It seems at times ...
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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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229 views

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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“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 ...