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

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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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Do any commentaries explain the charade that Yosef put the brothers through as done with bad intention?

It seems that over the last few hundred years all the commentators that have written on the subject, and all the darshanim I hear talking about it, take for granted that the entire episode concerning ...
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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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Noach and the Birds

Why is it that Noach sent out the Birds to see if the Flood had subsided and when he did find out he just waited for Hashem to tell him to leave.Why send the Birds if you are going to wait for Hashem ...
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Is there a good children's parsha book that's focused on pshat, not midrash?

Is there a good children's parsha book that's focused on pshat, not midrash? Something like a Little Midrash Says, but based on just the psukim (simple verses), not all the medrish?
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How did Moshe know he was Jewish?

Shemot 2:11 says how Moshe went out to see the suffering of his people: וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיִּגְדַּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֵּצֵ֣א אֶל־אֶחָ֔יו וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיַּרְא֙ אִ֣ישׁ מִצְרִ֔י ...
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Wasn't Korach the star of the show?

In Parshas Eikev (Devarim 11:6), Moshe recounts the results of the dispute between Korach and Moshe, namely the ground opening its mouth and swallowing them up. There is one significant person ...
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What is it with the donkeys all over Parashat Mikeitz?

So, we got Bereshit 42, psukim 26, 27 כו וַיִּשְׂאוּ אֶת-שִׁבְרָם, עַל-חֲמֹרֵיהֶם; וַיֵּלְכוּ, מִשָּׁם. כז וַיִּפְתַּח הָאֶחָד אֶת-שַׂקּוֹ, לָתֵת מִסְפּוֹא לַחֲמֹרוֹ--בַּמָּלוֹן; וַיַּרְא, ...
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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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148 views

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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What does Rash"i add on B'midbar 2:20?

In describing the layout of B'nei Yisra'el's camp in the wilderness, the Torah records four groups (called d'galim) comprising 3 tribes each, and lists them in order, dictating a diagram of how they ...
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Why are several Biblical characters called “man of the Lord” (Ish HaElokim), but no one in the Bible is ever “man of God” (Ish Hashem)?

Ramban makes this observation (Deut. 33:1), and says "anyone with a good intellect" can figure out the reason. Okay I'm stumped ... help me out here please?
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Do we care or do we not care about beauty?

Rashi Breishis 23:1 says that when Sarah was 20 she was beautiful as when she was 7. Mishlei 31:30 says שקר החן והבל היפי אשה יראת ה' היא תתהלל. Why is Rashi saying that Sarah was beautiful if it is ...
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(Psalms 69 (14)) How do we understand אלקים ברב חסדך, rather than ה׳ ברב חסדך

I am used to the idea that the name אלקים connotes judgement and ה׳ mercy. So how is it in Psalms 69 (14) , the Psalmist says “אלקים ברב חסדך”?
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Why is “Kedoshim tihyu” (Lev. 19) interposed between the chapters about illicit relations?

Chapter 18 of Vayikra (Leviticus) mostly deals with various forbidden relationships, but without specifying the individual punishments for transgressing them (just a collective warning to the nation ...
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On Deuteronomy 28:23, Rashi says copper is “mazi'a”. What does this mean?

I have this question on Rashi every year in Ki Savo. Deuteronomy 28:23 says: "And the heavens above your head will be like copper and the earth that is beneath you, iron." Rashi says that the heavens ...
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Why was the man in Numbers 15 put to death?

Once, when the Israelites were in the wilderness, they came upon a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him as he was gathering wood brought him before Moses, Aaron, and the whole ...
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175 views

What was Moshe's “masveh”?

The Torah relates that Moshe donned a מסוה to hid the luminescence of his face, when addressing the community. What was the nature/appearance of this "masveh"?
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Joseph and Chanukkah

The Parshiot about Joseph always fall right before or during Chanukkah. It their a relationship between the Joseph stories and the Chanukkah stories? It there something to be learned from the fact ...
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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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203 views

Yisrael or Yaakov?

Does anyone have any sources on a conclusive guide to when the name "Yisrael" is used and when the name "Yaakov" is used in the Torah in reference to Yaakov Avinu, the individual?
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Since Yitzchok appears to have a doubt about the identity of the person whom he wished to bless, why didn’t he wait and make sure?

From what Yitzchok says in Bereishis 27:22 “the voice is the voice of Ya’akov, and the hands are the hands of Eisav” it seems that he had a doubt as to the identity of the person who had come to ...
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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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216 views

Could the destroyer in Egypt discriminate?

In Rashi's comment to Shemos 12:22 we read ואתם לא תצאו וגו': מגיד שמאחר שנתנה רשות למשחית לחבל אינו מבחין בין צדיק לרשע …once permission has been given to the משחית (destroyer) to ...
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How much contact did Avraham and Yitzchak have after the akeidah?

The akeidah was a traumatic event for both Avraham and Yitzchak. Immediately after they appear to go their separate ways. After Sarah's death Avraham arranges a marriage for his son, which could ...
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Their altars…and *his* asheirah?

Shemot 34:13: כִּי אֶת מִזְבְּחֹתָם תִּתֹּצוּן וְאֶת מַצֵּבֹתָם תְּשַׁבֵּרוּן וְאֶת אֲשֵׁרָיו תִּכְרֹתוּן For you shall dismantle their altars, break their monuments, and cut down his ...
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Why all the talk about colored sheep and goats?

In the VaYetze weekly reading (Parasha) there is a long description of the colors of the sheep and goat: Akudim, Nekutim... What is the reason behind all of this descriptions? If the text wanted to ...
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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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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 ...
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Why did Binyamin think Yosef was still alive?

Rashi (Bereshit 43:30), quoting the Talmud (Sotah 36B), tells us that Binyamin named each of his 10 sons in honor of Yosef. Many of the names indicate that Binyamin knew that Yosef was alive, in ...
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311 views

Why was Yishmael saved?

In bereshis 21:17 it says And God heard the lad's voice, and an angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, "What is troubling you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the lad's ...
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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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Connection between the metzora's purification and the Four Species of Sukkos?

In the procedure prescribed for the first stage of a metzora's purification (Lev. 14:1-7), the Torah lists four items to be dipped into a mixture of blood and water: a live bird, a piece of cedar ...
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Why did Yaakov give the city of Shechem to Yosef?

Yaakov gives Yosef what many commentators assume is the actual city of Shechem as an additional inheritance (see Genesis 48:22, especially according to Rashi's interpretation). Why did Yaakov choose ...
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מחני נא — Moshe's real name isn't mentioned

In Shemot 32:32, Moshe tells Hashem: וְעַתָּה אִם תִּשָּׂא חַטָּאתָם וְאִם אַיִן מְחֵנִי נָא מִסִּפְרְךָ אֲשֶׁר כָּתָבְתָּ: And now, if You forgive their sin But if not, erase me now from ...
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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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In Judaism, does God have a body?

In the Bible it says [Gen 3:8]: "And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day". It seems God has carnal body (thus he could walk). In Judaism compared with ...
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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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240 views

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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Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר?

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר, or do they both pretty much mean "to say" or "to speak"? Do any sages see the choice of one ...
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344 views

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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297 views

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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Who sold Yosef, and who knew?

I had always understood that Yosef's brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. We know that they planned to do so, but during this week's torah reading I noticed this for the first time: כח ...
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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 ...