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

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Mordechai - Religious Leader or Political figure?

I'm looking to gather some more background, context, sources and opinions, regarding Mordechai's religiousness, or lack thereof. This was the topic of a recent comment thread on Was Darius ...
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Does Joshua 8:34-35 disprove oral law's existence?

I was reading about Karaite Judaism and it lists a number of reasons, some which I thought were compelling, for rejecting the Oral Law. For example, Joshua 8, 34–8, 35 states: After that, he ...
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Why does Rashi say “I don't know”?

The Posuk says (Genesis 28:5): וַיִּשְׁלַח יִצְחָק אֶת יַעֲקֹב וַיֵּלֶךְ פַּדֶּנָה אֲרָם אֶל לָבָן בֶּן בְּתוּאֵל הָאֲרַמִּי אֲחִי רִבְקָה אֵם יַעֲקֹב וְעֵשָׂו To which Rashi comments on the ...
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What does adultery mean in the 7th commandment?

Exodus 20:14, the 7th 'commandment' of the Decalogue. Does it mean only having sex with someone else' wife or having sex outside marriage? What is the actual Hebrew word and what possible ...
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What was the name of Rachel and Leah's mother?

What was the name of Lavan's wife, the mother of Rachel and Leah?
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(Neis) Miracle of Sarah giving birth at 90

We all know how in Parshas Vayeira the miracle of Sarah giving birth @ 90 takes place. In Mitzrayim Yocheved gave birth @ 130 yet there is no mention of this. Was it not a bigger miracle? Then why is ...
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How did Rivkah give Yackov Eisav's clothing? Isn't borrowing without permission tantamount to stealing?

How did Rivkah give Yackov Eisav's clothing without asking? וַתִּקַּח רִבְקָה אֶת בִּגְדֵי עֵשָׂו בְּנָהּ הַגָּדֹל הַחֲמֻדֹת אֲשֶׁר אִתָּהּ בַּבָּיִת וַתַּלְבֵּשׁ אֶת יַעֲקֹב בְּנָהּ הַקָּטָן ...
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The Meaning of Aishdas

I have read that Aishdas (Deut. 33:2) means "fiery law" or something of the sort. However, doesn't the word das with the meaning of law/religion come from Persian (i.e. did not have the meaning of ...
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What's the difference between אניה and ספינה in Jonah?

In יונה‎ 1:2–5, the boat Yona is on is referred to generally as an אניה. But in verse 5, Yona goes down to a side room of the ספינה. The commentaries seem to treat the words as synonymous: ...
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Was the world created with din or with rachamim?

I remember Chazal saying somewhere that the world could not survive, had it been created with din/harsh judgement/strictness. However, in Bereshis, at the very beginning, it says: בְּרֵאשִׁית ...
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What is Zimri's sin?

Note: This is Zimri that was speared by Phinehas for sleeping with a foreigner. Wikipedia says that he committed idolatry. However, the Bible only mentions that he slept with a foreign woman. Nothing ...
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God's Pair of Teffilin

How when moshe turns his head not to see God's face, he sees He's got on teffilin? I thought God had no physical form.
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Ya'akov's brief amnesia

In Parashas Vayechi, Ya'akov calls for his sons to gather so that he can tell them about what shall befall them at the end of days. Gen. 49:1. He never gets to that, however, because, according to ...
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riddle about who 2 people in the torah are [closed]

Name 2 figures in the Torah that their mother is their sister, their aunts and uncles are dead, and their father is their grandfather.
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Why the hidden mussar?

The first few words of Sefer Devarim are understood to be Moshe Rabbeinu hinting at different mistakes the Jewish people made in the desert, and he is giving them disguised rebuke. Rashi to Devarim ...
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Why is Aharon ignored in parshas Vayikra?

Sefer Vayikra deals mostly with the various activities that were done in the Mishkan, so it is not surprising that Aharon, the Kohen Gadol, is the one who is primarily mentioned in connection with ...
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Why does Yisro tell Moshe that he came with Moshe's wife “and her sons” rather than “your sons”?

At Exodus 18:6, Moshe's father-in-law, Yisro, tells Moshe that he had come with Moshe's wife and "her sons." Why didn't he say to Moshe that she had come with "your sons"?
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Non-Trivial Pursuit: וְנַסְתֶּם וְאֵין-רֹדֵף אֶתְכֶם

What is the meaning of וְנַסְתֶּם וְאֵין-רֹדֵף אֶתְכֶם (Leviticus 26:17)? Literally of course it is simple: "You will flee with no one pursuing you" (Artscroll) But this punishment does not really ...
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Was Ya’akov really simple?

The posuk Gen. 25:27 says: וְיַעֲקֹב אִישׁ תָּם - Ya’akov was a simple man. Rashi comments on this: מי שאינו חריף לרמות קרוי תם - One who is not astute at deceiving is called תָּם, innocent. ...
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Why does the tribe of Gad have an unusual population count in Bamidbar 1?

When listing the census of the tribes in Bamidbar 1, only the tribe of Gad has the count 45,650 - I.e. - the count is not exactly on the hundreds as it is with all the other tribes. As the count was ...
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Why did Samson's parents not see the incident with the lion?

It says in sefer Shoftim (14,5-6) "And Shimshon and his father and mother went down to Timnas, and they came until the vineyards of Timnas, and behold, a young lion roared towards him. And there ...
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Why the extra words “who sits on his throne”, “who is behind the millstone”?

In Parshas Bo, 11:5, the Torah says: "Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, to the firstborn of the slave-woman who is behind the ...
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why did the angel fight with yaakov?

Why did hashem allow the angel to even fight with yaakov in the first place?
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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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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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How was Ya'akov allowed to favor Yosef over Re'uven?

In Devarim 21:16 - 17 it states that the father cannot favor the son of the beloved wife over the older son of a hated wife. If we assume the notion that our forefathers performed all the mitzvot of ...
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Is there a commentary on tehillim that maps perakim to episodes in David's life?

Sometimes it's fairly easy to tell when David is writing about a particular event such as לדוד בשנותו את טעמו לפני אבימלך At other times it's less obvious, but you get a 'lightbulb moment' when ...
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Promising not to Destroy the World, and “I will Return the World to Water”

After the Mabul (deluge/flood), Hashem promised that he would not destroy the world. Yet we know from Tisha Bav and Yom Kippur's "Asarah Harugay Malchus" (“The Ten Martyrs”) poem that when they were ...
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Why does parshat bamidbar repeat census information?

It seems that the 3rd aliyah in Bamidbar needlessly repeats the information given in the 1st and second aliyah First Aliyah: Lists the leaders of each tribe Second Aliyah: gives us the census ...
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Can Moshe die at will?

Devarim 32:49-50 עֲלֵה אֶל-הַר הָעֲבָרִים הַזֶּה הַר-נְבוֹ, אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב, אֲשֶׁר, עַל-פְּנֵי יְרֵחוֹ; וּרְאֵה אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲחֻזָּה. נ ...
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Moav or Midian - who seduced the Jews at Shitim?

Who were the women seducers in Shitim who caused the Jewish people to stray after their gods (Baal Peor), discussed in Parshas Balak and Pinchas? On the one hand, it seems like the women came from ...
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Why does the posuk tell us how old Moshe was when he spoke to Pharoh?

In Posuk 5 of Perek 7 in Parshas Va'eira, it says that Moshe was 80 years old and Aaron was 83 when they spoke to Pharoh. Why is that important?
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Why does Moshe tell Hashem that he is 'heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue' - twice?

Shemot 4:10-15 is a dialogue between Hashem and Moshe where Moshe tells Hashem that he is 'heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue'. In pssukim 14-15 Hashem tells Moshe that he will tell Aharon what to ...
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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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Prediction of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash - seemingly out of place

On Lev. 26:19, ושברתי את גאון עזכם - "I will break the pride of your strength," Rashi (citing Sifra) explains that this refers to the Beis Hamikdash. But this is still fairly early on in the cycle of ...
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What's up with this pasuk in mishpatim?

The Chumash in Shemot 23:14 begins describing the three regalim: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot, in that order. In Pasuk 17, the Chumash begins again with Pesach and Shavuot. Instead of listing sukkot again ...
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How were Achiman, Sheshai and Talmai “Sons of Giants”?

In Bamidbar 13:22, the Torah tells us that the spies saw Achiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the sons of Giants. Rashi tells us they were the descendants of Shamchazai and Azael, angels who fell from heaven ...
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Why are there different phrasings of Korban Pesach accompaniments?

In Parshas Bo (Exodus 12:8) it says about the Korban Pesach: וְאָכְלוּ אֶת-הַבָּשָׂר, בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה: צְלִי-אֵשׁ וּמַצּוֹת, עַל-מְרֹרִים יֹאכְלֻהוּ. And they shall eat the flesh in that ...
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Why does the Torah repeat the story of Efron HaChiti many times?

The story of Avraham buying the cave of Machpelah is principly mentioned in Parshat Chayei Sarah Bereshit 23:3-20. If so, why does the Torah stress again and again that Avraham bought the cave from ...
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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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Could B'nei M'nashe have been placed with R'uven and Gad as a remedy to their separatism?

Does the following idea have any validity? Is it brought down anywhere? When members of the tribes of R'uven and Gad approached Moshe to unwaveringly request settlement on the east bank of the ...
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On the gender of the implied “פַּעַם שֵׁנִי” in Esther 2:14

Ester 2:14 speaks of each candidate for the title of queen consort: בָּעֶרֶב הִיא בָאָה וּבַבֹּקֶר הִיא שָׁבָה אֶל בֵּית הַנָּשִׁים שֵׁנִי In the evening she would arrive and in the morning ...
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Neither from a thread to a shoe strap [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why did Avraham take gifts from Pharaoh, but not the King of Sodom? After Avram saved Lot and the people of Sodom from the 4 kings, the king of Sodom offered him the ...
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Moshe talking to the Mizbeach?

Here are the last two psukim in parshat nasso: פח וְכֹל בְּקַר זֶבַח הַשְּׁלָמִים, עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה פָּרִים, אֵילִם שִׁשִּׁים עַתֻּדִים שִׁשִּׁים, כְּבָשִׂים בְּנֵי-שָׁנָה שִׁשִּׁים: זֹאת ...
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Dibur HaMatchil: Where did it come from

When reading Rashi, each comment on the pasukkim is split up by DiBur Hamatchil (quotes from the pasuk to let you know what Rashi is commenting on). Are these original to Rashi, or were they added? On ...
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Wasn't Yishmael already sent away from Avraham's house?

In Bereshit 22:3, Rashi tells us that when Avraham went to sacrifice Yitzchok, the two lads he took with him were Yishmael and Eliezer. Wasn't Yishmael already gone from Avraham's house? In Bereshit ...
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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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Why does the Yom Kippur service seem to reenact Abraham's treatment of his sons?

In the Yom Kippur service during Temple times, the Kohen would (Lev 16:7-10ff): And he shall take the two goats, and set them before the LORD at the door of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall ...
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Why the specific commandments in the Aseret haDibrot

What is HKBH trying to teach us by his choice of commandments that make up the Aseret haDibrot
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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 ...