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

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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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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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364 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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308 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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217 views

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 ...
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546 views

Why is the birth of twins a Chidush for Rivka?

Background: In Parshat Toldot, Rivka conceives and is troubled by the discomfort. She goes to ask Hashem and it is explained to her that 2 nations are struggling within her, so she already knows that ...
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What are some of the old commentaries prior to 1 BCE of the Torah?

I believe that there would be commentaries of the Torah older than 1 BCE and that can shed significant light on what the message of God is in terms of its authoritativeness. Israelites have a glorious ...
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Why is there a “Good” Type of Tzaraas?

I understand there's the type that actually makes a person Tamei, because the person did bad things (e.g. spoke Lashon Hara). But assuming tzaraas stems from a spiritual affliction, what purpose does ...
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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 1:...
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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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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 there seem to be different standards for future sinners?

In Bereshit (21:17) Rashi tells us that the Angels wanted G-d to kill Yishmael, but G-d said that He wouldn't judge him according to his future deeds, but rather according to his present state: In ...
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403 views

What's the difference between כשב and כבש?

What's the difference between כשב and כבש? Why does the Torah use both?
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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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120 views

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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Joseph's interpretation of 7 years of famine - was his prediction false?

There appear to be a few conflicting verses and commentaries on this topic. When Joseph intreprest Pharaoh's dreams he says, Genesis 41:28: ה֣וּא הַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר דִּבַּ֖רְתִּי אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה ...
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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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How did Achashverosh not think that Mordechai would be disturbed by the decree to kill all the Jews?

In the book of Ester (6:1), Achashverosh can't sleep and asks to bring the book of records to him. Rashi says that the reason why is in case he was done a favor by someone and didn't repay it and that ...
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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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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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What is the problem with dogs?

Deuteronomy 23:19: לֹא תָבִיא אֶתְנַן זוֹנָה וּמְחִיר כֶּלֶב בֵּית יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְכָל נֶדֶר כִּי תוֹעֲבַת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ גַּם שְׁנֵיהֶם Why does the Torah have a problem with using the ...
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247 views

What does נְחשֶׁת mean?

In Teruma (25:3), the verse says "וְזֹאת הַתְּרוּמָה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְחוּ מֵאִתָּם זָהָב וָכֶסֶף וּנְחשֶׁת". Chabad (as well as Artscroll) translates it as "And this is the offering that you shall take ...
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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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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 was Noach allowed to eat fish?

The Ramban (Bereshit 1:29) says the reason Noach was allowed to eat animals is because he maintained them in the Ark. If he would not have brought them into the Ark they would all have perished, so ...
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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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65 views

The Ear That Heard “Don't Steal”

Rashi to Exodus (21:6) quotes the Mechilta which connects the drilling of the ear of the slave to hearing "don't steal" at Sinai. The obvious question asked by the Moshav Z'keinim (there) is that ...
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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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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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110 views

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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190 views

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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First it says everyone had their own language; but then it says all spoke one before being split

First, in Noach, pasuk Chof perek Yud, it says אֵלֶּה בְנֵי חָם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לִלְשֹׁנֹתָם; then again a few pasukim later, pasuk Lamed Aleph, אֵלֶּה בְנֵי שֵׁם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָם לִלְשֹׁנֹתָם. So ...
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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 God have Moshe use a name the Israelites won't know?

When God sends Moshe back to Egypt from Midyan, he instructs Moshe to refer to God as "Hashem." (Shemot 3:15) When Moshe returns from the task, God reveals that the Israelites (or at least their ...
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Why does the Torah sometimes refer to Shabbat as a masculine noun and other times as a feminine noun?

There are times when the Torah refers to Shabat in feminine as in Shmot (Ex.) 31:13 "...But you shall observe my Shabbats, for SHE is a sign". Other times the masculine voice is used as in Shmot (Ex.) ...
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145 views

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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131 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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102 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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121 views

Why mention the ger in Lev 19:10, 23:22?

Vayikra 23:22: וּבְקֻצְרְכֶם אֶת קְצִיר אַרְצְכֶם לֹא תְכַלֶּה פְּאַת שָׂדְךָ בְּקֻצְרֶךָ וְלֶקֶט קְצִירְךָ לֹא תְלַקֵּט לֶעָנִי וְלַגֵּר תַּעֲזֹב אֹתָם When you reap the harvest of your Land,...
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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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123 views

Why can't Hashem chase the people out of Canaan quickly?

Exodus 23:29 says that Hashem promised not to drive out the indigenous peoples of Canaan too quickly lest the wild animals become too plentiful. This is repeated in Deuteronomy 7:22. However the ...
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77 views

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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132 views

How can you see words?

Has anyone else noticed the seeming incongruity in Lekh Lekha, Gen 15:1...that Avram is "seeing" the words? The verse states: אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, הָיָה דְבַר-יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, ...
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204 views

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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219 views

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 ...