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

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Why make a Copper Snake?

Why did Moshe have to make a Copper snake. Wouldn't it be simpler if the snakes went away? (or acted as they were before the plague)
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280 views

arachin: dependance on age and sex

Why is the erech (Vayikra 27:1–8) of a woman less than that of a man? And why does erech depend on age? Sources, please.
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338 views

Why was Eliyahu Hanavi taken to heaven alive?

Why was Eliyahu chosen to be one of the very few who merited to go to Gan Eden alive? There were prophets greater than him (Moshe, for example). There were people that kept the Torah better than him ...
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70 views

Why are the commandments for the holiday of Succot interrupted by commandments regarding sacrifices in general?

Vayikra 23:33-36 discuss the celebration of Succot. Then, verses 37-38 interrupt the discussion by saying a general statement that these are the holidays when you should offer sacrifices. Then, verses ...
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160 views

Questions about the destruction of Sodom and the vicinity

I am having a hard time making heads or tails of the story of the destruction of Sodom and the vicinity. All questions below are questions about the narrative of the story based on the interpretation ...
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138 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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225 views

Who is Tzippor?

Parashat Balaq indirectly references "Tzippor" five times (by introducing Balaq as "ben Tzippor"). I don't believe Rashi brings down any background regarding Tzippor. If the Torah refers to Balaq as "...
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332 views

Why was Yaakov punished for not honoring his parents?

Bereshit 37:34 (translation by machon-mamre): וַיִּקְרַע יַעֲקֹב שִׂמְלֹתָיו, וַיָּשֶׂם שַׂק בְּמָתְנָיו; וַיִּתְאַבֵּל עַל-בְּנוֹ, יָמִים רַבִּים And Jacob rent his garments, and put ...
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118 views

“The days of mourning for my father” - why wait?

The Posuk says(27,41): יִקְרְבוּ יְמֵי אֵבֶל אָבִי וְאַהַרְגָה אֶת יַעֲקֹב אָחִי: Translated as:"Let the days of mourning for my father draw near, I will then kill my brother Jacob. " The ...
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107 views

Was Binyamin aware of Tzofnas Paaneach (aka Yosef)'s true identity?

While Yosef recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. I heard a Rosh Yeshiva suggest that Binyamin, who wasn't so absorbed in the soap opera, was able to recognize Yosef, but played along ...
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143 views

How could Yackov Lie

How could Yackov Lie it is גניבת דעת to say אָנֹכִי עֵשָׂו בְּכֹרֶךָ How was he allowed to make this statement?
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46 views

In the story about Eliezer searching for a wife for Yitzchak, why does the Torah alternate terminology about him between “slave” and “man”?

In viewing the story in Breishit 24, regarding Eliezer searching for a wife for Yitzchak, we see that the Torah first calls him עבד - slave (starting from the point that Eliezer leaves Avraham's home) ...
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147 views

Responding to an army draft before 20

מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה, כל-יוצא צבא בישראל--תפקדו אותם לצבאותם, אתה ואהרון. (במדבר א:ג)‏ Rashi, commenting on Bamidbar 1:3, says that you should not join the army younger than 20. Is it ...
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171 views

“Praiseworthy is he who will clutch and dash your infants against the rock”?

I do not understand the last lines of psalm 137 ("By the rivers of Babylon"/"Al naharos bovel," the psalm recited before Birkat Ha-Mazon on weekdays. [It includes the famous lines "Im eshkachech ...
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118 views

Where does Rashi say “Complaint” in his commentary on the Torah?

When I was in 4th grade, my rebbi taught us a Rashi in which he explains a Pasuk by simply saying "Complaint" (קומפליינט or some similar transliteration), meaning the voice in the Pasuk was ...
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352 views

HaMalach HaGoel Osi

Why does Yakov ask the malach (angel) (actually it sounds more like a statement of fact - "he will...") who protected him from evil to bless Ephraim and Menashe? Also, do we find that this actually ...
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139 views

Why does revi'i of Vayeira seem to end four verses late?

Why does revi'i - the fourth reading - of Parashat Vayeira end with the first few verses of the story of the birth of Yitzchak (Gen. 21:1-4)? Objections: There's a natural break in narrative before ...
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6answers
205 views

Why was the letter “Hai” added to Avraham's name?

Avarham Avinu was originally Avram - and Hashem added the letter Hai to his name and changed it to Avraham. Why from all letters was the letter Hai added?
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71 views

Shalom Zachar and "the rain of your land in its season”

Rashi on Devorim 11 (14), “I will give the rain of your land in its season” says this will be on Shabbos nights when everyone will be found in their houses. How does this fit with the institution of ...
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48 views

Did Paroh give offerings

In Shemos 10:25, Moshe told that Paroh himself will give offerings to Hashem. Did this really happen?
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112 views

Who killed Shaul?

Ⅰ Sh'muel 31:3–5: וַתִּכְבַּד הַמִּלְחָמָה אֶל שָׁאוּל…. וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל לְנֹשֵׂא כֵלָיו שְׁלֹף חַרְבְּךָ וְדָקְרֵנִי בָהּ… וְלֹא אָבָה נֹשֵׂא כֵלָיו כִּי יָרֵא מְאֹד וַיִּקַּח שָׁאוּל אֶת ...
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71 views

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 hand. ...
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377 views

Saadia Gaon on the Torah Original Arabic

Is the commentary of the Torah (not the translation) of Saadia Gaon in the original Arabic available online?
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73 views

What is the plague being referred to in Parshas Korach?

Bamidbar 17:11 ויאמר משה אל אהרן קח את המחתה ותן עליה אש מעל המזבח ושים קטרת והולך מהרה אל העדה וכפר עליהם כי יצא הקצף מלפני יהוה החל הנגף And Moses said unto Aaron: 'Take thy fire-pan, and ...
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136 views

Who is speaking in Ex. 3:17?

Sh'mos 3:15–18 reads: ‏15 וַיֹּאמֶר עוֹד אֱלֹהִים אֶל מֹשֶׁה…. 16 לֵךְ וְאָסַפְתָּ אֶת זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם יהוה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֵיכֶם נִרְאָה אֵלַי… לֵאמֹר פָּקֹד ...
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How to understand the use of גֹאֵל in Rus

I'm really perplexed by what is going on in megillas Rus. In chapter 3 Rus and Boaz keep talking about Boaz being a גֹאֵל, but גֹאֵל of what? Boaz is the uncle of Machlon and Kilyon and as such he ...
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1answer
134 views

“The Romans' Book” in Ramba"n

The commentary of Ramba"n on Vayikra 26:16 explains a large swath of parashas B'chukosai as an allegory to the two batei Mikdash and the corresponding exiles. Included therein, he elaborates on the ...
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129 views

Rashi's proof of the timing of Yisro's conversation with Moshe about judges

Rashi (to Ex. 18:13) cites Mechilta that "the next day," when Yisro saw Moshe judging the people and offered his advice about appointing inferior judges, was the day after Yom Kippur. Part of his ...
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376 views

Ezekiel 16:4: לֹא הֻמְלַחַתְּ — what practice does this describe?

Ezekiel 16:4 seems to be describing practices performed on an infant or young child. But, what practice does לֹא הֻמְלַחַתְּ refer to? Do any rabbis explain the meaning?
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34 views

“bechor hashifcha” and “bechor hashvi” — why the change? (Shemos 11:5, 12:29)

During leining today, I noticed that the Torah changes its wording, when describing the breadth of Makkas Bechoros -- when Pharaoh is warned, in Shemot 11:5, we have: וּמֵת כָּל בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ ...
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206 views

Washing feet before coming inside: Avraham vs. Lot

When the angels came to visit Avraham, he asked them (Bereishis 18:4) to "Bathe your feet, and recline under the tree". Rashi explains: He thought that they were Arabs, who prostrate themselves to ...
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3answers
330 views

Why is Parshas Beshalach called Shabbos Shira?

Most people know that we read Az Yashir on Shabbos Shira and we put out bread for the birds. However this is the only Shabbos that has a special name simply because of what we read in the Parsha. (...
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24 views

Around what was the boundary set at Har Sinai?

Shemos 19:12 והגבלת את העם סביב לאמר השמרו לכם עלות בהר ונגע בקצהו כל הנגע בהר מות יומת And you shall set boundaries around the nation saying, "be careful not to go up the mountain..." ...
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50 views

What is “חכמת לב”?

In this week's Torah portion (Vayakhel) we read about the Jews helping out in the building of the Tabernacle. When referring to the talent (or mastery) in doing so, the Torah uses the term "חכמת לב". ...
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175 views

What is the traditional interpretation of Dt. 18:18?

The Torah contains a prophecy of a future Prophet who will be like Moses: I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put My words in his mouth, and he ...
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122 views

Why did God want a Tabernacle built by Moses? [duplicate]

Why did God want a Tabernacle to live among Israel (Exodus 25:8)? What is the significance of the Tabernacle built by Moses?
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172 views

Achashverosh — was he or wasn't he?

I'm looking to gather some more background, context, sources and opinions, regarding Achashverosh's Jewishness, or lack thereof. This was inspired by a recent similar question, and, in fact, much of ...
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70 views

What did Bnei Yisrael experience at Matan Torah?

I'm having trouble understanding what the Israelites actually experienced at the Revelation at Mt Sinai. Did they all see God? Did they all hear Him? Did they all understand Him? Did they hear all of ...
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3answers
175 views

Miswa of Lifne Iwer isn't what the words mean literally?

My fellow Jew (let's call him Bob) and I were discussing the Miswa of "You shall not place a stumbling block in front of a blind person (Wayikra 19)". Bob was saying that that verse was referring to ...
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74 views

How is it that no one spots Potiphar's wife's lie?

There appears to be something strange about Potiphar telling people in her home that she called out in a loud voice. Genesis 39:14: וַתִּקְרָ֞א לְאַנְשֵׁ֣י בֵיתָ֗הּ וַתֹּ֤אמֶר לָהֶם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר ...
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4answers
440 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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2answers
156 views

Inconsistency in listing creeping things in Noach's Ark's population

The animal population of Noach's Ark is commanded/listed six times in Parashat Noach: Genesis 6:19-20 (Initial command) Genesis 7:2-3 (Reiteration of command) Genesis 7:8-9 (Entry to the Ark) ...
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128 views

Did Tamar marry a third time, and if so whom?

B'reishit 38:26 says: וַיַּכֵּר יְהוּדָה וַיֹּאמֶר צָדְקָה מִמֶּנִּי כִּי עַל כֵּן לֹא נְתַתִּיהָ לְשֵׁלָה בְנִי וְלֹא יָסַף עוֹד לְדַעְתָּהּ: Then Judah recognized [them], and he said, "She ...
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2answers
109 views

What is the difference in meaning between לתור and לחפר with regards to spying the land?

I am combining concepts from this week's Torah and Haftarah: In the Torah portion, it says with the spies that they went לתור את הארץ (Bamidbar 13:16). With Yehoshu'a it says לחפר את הארץ (Yehoshu'a ...
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3answers
84 views

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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2answers
55 views

The Tyrian Smith's Name

Kings I ch. 7 tells of Solomon enlisting a Tyrian smith named חירם, Hiram to fashion many implements that were used in the Temple. Chronicles II ch. 2 speaks of the King of Tyre sending a smith named ...
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2answers
170 views

Where can I get the full set of Shadal's commentary on the Torah?

I'm a big fan of Shadal's commentary on the Torah, but I can't find anyone selling the full set. There's an english translation of Breishis only and the full hebrew version is available online, but I ...
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3answers
165 views

Inner being: Soul or Spirit?

Bereshit (Genesis) 2:7 reads: 'vayipach beapav nishmat chayim vayehi ha'adam lenefesh chayah' Is my inner being a 'soul' or a 'spirit', or am I a 'soul' or am I a 'spirit'? Let me make myself clear: ...
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1answer
37 views

Who did “וַיֹּצִאֵנוּ” in Num. 20:16?

Chukas 20:16: וַנִּצְעַק אֶל ה׳ וַיִּשְׁמַע קֹלֵנוּ וַיִּשְׁלַח מַלְאָךְ וַיֹּצִאֵנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם…‏ In translation: and we called out to God, and he heard our voice, and he sent ...
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2answers
84 views

For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise - why seven?

Shelomo HaMelekh (King Solomon) famously wrote in Mishle'i 24:16 (Proverbs): כִּי שֶׁבַע יִפּוֹל צַדִּיק וָקָם וּרְשָׁעִים יִכָּשְׁלוּ בְרָעָה For a righteous man can fall seven times and ...