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

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The application of “harm” in Shemot (Exodus) 21:22

Shemot (Exodus) 21:22: And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall ...
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86 views

Hazi“v La”kh: what's behind the division?

The Talmud (Rosh Hashana 31a) tells us that the Haazinu song (Devarim 32) was sung weekly in the Temple and divided into six segments, given by the mnemonic HaZIV LaKh הזיו לך (where each letter is ...
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108 views

What does מִלְמַעְלָה in Gen 7:20 mean?

Genesis 7:20, describing the flood, says: חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה אַמָּה מִלְמַעְלָה, גָּבְרוּ הַמָּיִם; וַיְכֻסּוּ, הֶהָרִים.‏ Almost everybody translates the first clause as some approximation of ...
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The mishkan and the fencepost problem

Rashi (Shemos 26:6,26) counts out the number of poles for the chazer on each side in parshas Terumah. He seems to ignore what is called the Fencepost Problem. The same problem exists for the 20 amah ...
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Why G-d had to confuse people's languages in the land of Shinar?

Why G-d had to confuse people's languages in the land of Shinar and scatter them across the Earth with diverse languages? What moral does Genesis 11:5–8 coveny to mankind execept the fact that "in ...
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Rashi on Bereishis 37:12: Only their sheep, or also their father's?

Bereishis 37:12: וַיֵּלְכוּ אֶחָיו לִרְעוֹת אֶת צֹאן אֲבִיהֶם בִּשְׁכֶם.‏ Rashi there says (as I understand it) that we cut out the word es (אֶת) because they only went to to feed their own ...
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169 views

Why does David say that he only sinned against G-d?

In Psalm 51:6 David says that "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight" (JPS) I wondered why does he think that he sinned only against the Lord? I think he ...
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143 views

Return *his* dress?

After the command to return a lost ox, we find: "You should do likewise for his dress (לשמלתו)." However, two pesukim later, we see וְלֹא-יִלְבַּשׁ גֶּבֶר שִׂמְלַת אִשָּׁה (and a man shouldn't wear ...
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138 views

If the Canaanites occupied the land in Moses’ day, why would Moses write that they were in the land then?

What does the Torah imply when it notes 'the Cannannites were then in the land' (Gen. 12:6)? It seems to suggest they were in the land then (when the tale took place) but not now (when the book was ...
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What does God's answer to Yona the prophet (4:11) really mean?

Sefer Yona 4:11 reads: וַאֲנִי לֹא אָחוּס עַל נִינְוֵה הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה אֲשֶׁר יֶשׁ בָּהּ הַרְבֵּה מִשְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה רִבּוֹ אָדָם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַע בֵּין יְמִינוֹ לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ וּבְהֵמָה רַבָּה ...
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Why not give tzeddakah before shmittah?

Devarim 15:7 cautions us not to withhold help to others because of the approach of the shmittah year. However, the help we would expect to give would be charity and thus would not be repaid. If ...
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Who were the pre-Lekh Likha righteous men?

BS"D In Hilkhoth Avodhah Zarah RaMBaM lists the central figures in the transmission of ethical monotheism, and I was wondering if there were any other figures in our mesora not mentioned. Since the ...
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113 views

Why did Noach plant a vineyard?

The first mention the torah makes of wine and vineyards is in Gen 9:20-21, when Noach plants a vineyard and then gets drunk on wine after the flood. What prompted him to plant a vineyard as, ...
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Referencing Iron before the Iron Age [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why does the Torah mention iron when the Torah was given in the Bronze age? A guest brought up this question at the shabbos table, and no one had an answer. In D'Varim ...
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66 views

Who is the Nasi in Ezekiel?

BS"D I was rereading Yehhezqei'l and was curious about the context of something towards the end. In pereq 46 from 1-18 it talks about a Nasi (prince), for example : "And the prince, when they go ...
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David called “hamelech”, “hamelech David”, and “David”

My son noticed in Ⅱ Sh'muel chapters 5–6 that, although David is generally called "David", there are times he's called "hamelech" (="the king") or "hamelech David" (="the king David"). (I'm ...
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109 views

Universal theory of Biblical eye-raising

Do any of the commentaries or Midrashim offer a universal interpretation (perhaps of the form "any time you see this, it means that") of Biblical idiom of "raising eyes"? Below are some examples that ...
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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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Singular and plural language in Deut. 4:25

Why does the Pasuk (Deut. 4:25) switch between singular and plural when building up to the consequences of what "you will [do]"? "When you (sing.) will have children and grandchildren, and you (pl.) ...
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81 views

ReEh in singular (Deut. 11:26)

The Ba'al HaTurim to Deut. 11:26 cites Bab. Megillah 31b in saying that all the blessings and curses in "Mishneh Torah" (usually this means Sefer Devarim - Deuteronomy) are written in singular, and ...
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101 views

Onkelos on Deut. 4:19

In Devarim 4:19, Onkelos translates ונדחת as ותטעי and והשתחוית as ותסגוד. First, what exactly is he trying to convey with ותטעי? I think of טעות as "whoops", and hopefully there's no serious damage, ...
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81 views

Og's bed made of iron

Devarim 3:11 desribes Og's bed as being made from iron. What does the the Torah add by describing Og's bed as being made from iron? The Ramban comments that it demonstrates how tall he was, that wood ...
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598 views

What are the possible reasonable meanings of “Love thy neighbor”?

What are the original Hebrew words for "love", "thy", "neighbor", "as", "you", "love", "yourself" in "love thy neighbor as you love your self"? What's the transliteration of those words in English ...
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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.
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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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Aharon's and Miriam's Yahrtzeit

The Book of Numbers spans almost the entire 40 year period in the desert, documenting numerous events that occurred to the Jews as they wandered. I count only 5 dates mentioned in the text (listed in ...
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How strong was Midian's army?

When Israel took vengeance on Midian they sent 12,000 troops (Numbers 31:4) and prevailed. We aren't told how numerous Midian was, only that the spoils includes 32,000 virgin women (31:35). This ...
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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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152 views

Why does the census “of all who are able to go forth to war” include a few women?

The census in Bamidbar 26 is directed thus: Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, by their fathers' houses, all that are able to go ...
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74 views

What did it mean for Saul to make David's father's house free?

In 1 Samuel 17:25 it says: And the men of Israel said: 'Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to taunt Israel is he come up; and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will ...
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Leaving the King's road?

We say in Bemidbar 20:17 to Edom: Let us now pass through your land: We won't pass through the fields and vineyards and we won't drink well-water; on the road of the king we will go, we won't ...
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195 views

Are there two things from which kares can cut one off?

In B'midbar 19:13 the Torah says that the punishment for entering the mikdash while impure is spiritual excision, using the words וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. . . . . .that ...
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509 views

What is the “book of the law” mentioned in Joshua 1?

Specifically, Joshua 1:8: Joshua 1:8 (JPS) 8  This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do ...
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194 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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93 views

Post-Korach altar cover: how was it made and used?

Numbers 17:2-5 describes the covering that was made for the altar from the fire-pans of Korach's rebels: [...] 4 And Eleazar the priest took the brazen fire-pans, which they that were burnt had ...
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426 views

Can someone kindly explain the Malachi 3. 23 -24?

In Malachi 3:23 -24 it says 23. Lo, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord, 24. that he may turn the heart of the fathers back through ...
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Why couldn't the Jews do Teshuva by the incident of the spies?

After Hashem chastised the Jews for not wanting to go into Eretz Yisrael, and told them that they will have to die in the desert, the Jews seemed to have had a change of heart. A few even were willing ...
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170 views

Why didn't Yehoshua give a good report immediately?

When the spies returned from scouting the land and gave their report of mighty opponents, 13:30 tells us that Caleb silenced the crowd and argued for going into the land, and then 13:31 says "the men ...
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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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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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Psalm 145: Which Person?

Psalm 145 makes up the bulk of the oft recited prayer known as Ashrei. It is an alphabetic acrostic (missing the letter nun) about the greatness of God. The verses beginning with Alef, Bet, Dalet, ...
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Why is Hashem's name attached to only some of His accomplishments in Tehillim 146?

Psalms 146:6ff lists twelve of Hashem's deeds: עֹשֶׂה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ אֶת הַיָּם וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּם הַשֹּׁמֵר אֱמֶת לְעוֹלָם עֹשֶׂה מִשְׁפָּט לָעֲשׁוּקִים נֹתֵן לֶחֶם לָרְעֵבִים ה' ...
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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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217 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 ...
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133 views

Why did Pharaoh try to kill Moshe?

Moshe Rabbeinu was raised in Pharaoh's house. Yet when Dasan and Aviram claimed that Moshe killed an Egyptian taskmaster, Pharaoh tried to kill him (Shemot 2:13-15). Why would an all powerful tyrant ...
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190 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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84 views

What was the purpose of Nachshon's sin-offering?

Nachshon ben Amminadav, and each of the eleven tribal leaders who followed him, offered "one young he-goat for a sin offering" as part of their gifts for the dedication of the Mishkan (Num. 7:16 ...
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249 views

Is the way of the torah pleasant or painful?

In Avot (6:4) we read - כך היא דרכה של תורה, פת במלח תאכל ומים במשורה תשתה ועל הארץ תישן וחיי צער תחיה This is the way of torah... and a life of pain you shall live. contrast this with Mishlei ...
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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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81 views

Was Naaman tamei from tzaraas?

In Melachim Bet 5:10 we read: וַיִּשְׁלַח אֵלָיו אֱלִישָׁע, מַלְאָךְ לֵאמֹר: הָלוֹךְ, וְרָחַצְתָּ שֶׁבַע-פְּעָמִים בַּיַּרְדֵּן, וְיָשֹׁב בְּשָׂרְךָ לְךָ וּטְהָר.‏ And Elisha sent a ...