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

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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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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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Shifting subjects and objects in Gen 12:15

There are three statements in Genesis 12:15: וַיִּרְאוּ אֹתָהּ שָׂרֵי פַרְעֹה וַיְהַלְלוּ אֹתָהּ אֶל פַּרְעֹה וַתֻּקַּח הָאִשָּׁה בֵּית פַּרְעֹה And Pharaoh's princes saw her, and they ...
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What Mikraos Gedolos has the most meforshim?

What sefer (prob Mikraos Gedolos) has the most meforshim in it?
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Why did Noach curse Canaan and not Cham?

After the incident with Cham after the flood, Noach curses Canaan (Genesis 9:25). Why does he not curse Cham, the one who actually wronged him? The explanations I've seen of this incident have Cham ...
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156 views

Not Negah but Like a Negah

Why when calling the Cohen even if you clearly know the Psak you cant say I have a Negah at home Instead of saying "Kanegah Nireh Li Babayis" Like a Negah?
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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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106 views

Zombie Midianites?

In Numbers 31, the Jews wipe out Midyan. I'd think this referred to only those of Midyan who happened to be defending against the Jews' attack, and not the whole nation, except that even women and ...
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272 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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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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139 views

Timing of the Commandment of Gid Hanashe

The Torah mentions, after the story of Yaakov getting injured in Parshas Vayishlach, that we do not eat the Gid Hanashe for this reason. The Meforshim seem to concur that this mitzvah was included in ...
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Balak The King Since when?

In the First Posuk it says: וירא בלק בן ציפור (And Balak the son of Tzippor Saw) no mention of his ...
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Did the Israelites walk bare foot in the desert, or did they have shoes (comment on Deut. 8:4)?

Deuteronomy 8:4 says שִׂמְלָ֨תְךָ֜ לֹ֤א בָֽלְתָה֙ מֵֽעָלֶ֔יךָ וְרַגְלְךָ֖ לֹ֣א בָצֵ֑קָה זֶ֖ה אַרְבָּעִ֥ים שָׁנָֽה׃ Your clothes did not get old upon you, neither did your feet swell, ...
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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 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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In the book of Esther, was Haman plotting to kill/overthrow Ahasueros?

At first reading, Haman is very powerful and wants to use that power to kill the Jews, but he's not actually interested in harming his boss, King Ahasueros ("Achashveirosh" to most of us), in any way. ...
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147 views

Mishkan significance

Why does the Torah feel the Need to tell me the rules for making the Mishkan? First, it is no longer relevant, as, even if we build, we will build a Beis Hamikdash. Plus, the Medrashim say it will be ...
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Who initially populated Chanoch City?

The Torah tells us (Genesis 4:17) that Kayin built a city and named it after his son, Chanoch. If Chanoch was only of the third generation of humans, how was the total human population at the time ...
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108 views

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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56 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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What does Mimenu mean in Bereishis 3:22

Bereishis 3:22 writes: וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ, לָדַעַת, טוֹב וָרָע; וְעַתָּה פֶּן-יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ, וְלָקַח גַּם מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים, וְאָכַל, וָחַי לְעֹלָם The ...
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Is Ber. 26 in the proper chronological place?

In Bereishit 25 twins are born and they grow up. Though I don't know how old they are by the end of the perek, they are at least 13. Then in perek 26, there is a famine and Yitzchak must go to Gerar. ...
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99 views

How old was Avraham when he sired children with Keturah, and was that unusual?

After reporting Sarah's death and burial, B'reishit 25:1 tells us that Avraham had several children by Keturah. Avraham was 137 when Sarah died. Earlier (17:17), Avraham had laughed at the idea of ...
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120 views

Commentaries not noting clear issues in the Torah

Stemming from this question about the seeming discrepancy between the number of people and the number of first-borns as counted in the beginning of Numbers: I noticed this problem in my first reading ...
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What was the effect of Yaakov placing his right hand on Efraim?

Yaakov saw (Beraishis 48 (19)) that Efraim would be greater than Menashe and so insisted that his right hand should rest on Efraim. Did the placing of the hand bring about the greatness and if not why ...
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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 could Yaakov name his children Gad and Dan?

Shabbos 67b says Gad was the name of an idol of the Amorites, and Dan was an idol of Samaria. If we're not supposed to even say the name of idols, how could Yaakov name his sons after them? (or is it ...
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Parshas Chukas: Hitting the rock vs. Talking to the rock

Hashem is angered that Moshe hits the rock instead of following His specific instruction to speak to the rock. “Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon: Because you did not believe in me to sanctify me in the ...
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Why does G-d say He will destroy the Bnei Yisroel after the episode with the spies?

In Bamidbar (Book of Numbers), after the spies come back with their negative report about Israel, God says: אַכֶּנּוּ בַדֶּבֶר וְאוֹרִשֶׁנּוּ וְאֶעֱשֶׂה אֹתְךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וְעָצוּם מִמֶּנּוּ. ...
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Why does Hashem allow Noah et al to eat *all* animals?

Reading the parsha today, I noticed for the first time that Bereishit 9:3-4 seems remarkable (JPS translations): .כָּל-רֶמֶשׂ אֲשֶׁר הוּא-חַי, לָכֶם יִהְיֶה לְאָכְלָה: כְּיֶרֶק עֵשֶׂב, נָתַתִּי ...
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Why did the waters of the flood have to cover the mountain 15 amos?

The posuk in Bereishis 7,20 says that the waters rose above the mountains 15 amos. But why was this so? It's understandable why the mountains had to be covered with water, but why did the waters have ...
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Why didn't Eliezer go straight to Avraham's family?

Avraham made Eliezer promise that he would only find a wife for Yitzchak from his family. It seems to follow then, that as soon as Eliezer would arrive in Aram Naharaim he'd go straight to Avraham's ...
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190 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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Rashi's apparent internal confusion over יתרו/רְעוּאֵל

Per Bamidbar 10:29 (see below), חֹבָב בֶּן רְעוּאֵל was the father-in-law of מֹשֶׁה. There, רש"י asks why רְעוּאֵל is referred to in Shemoth 2:18 as the "father" of בנות יתרו, and he answers that ...
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How did 'Eli know HaShem was calling to Shemuel?

In Shemuel I (3:1) the Pasuk tells us that prophecy was a very rare phenomenon. How, then, did 'Eli realize that Shemuel was receiving prophecy and not merely dreaming?
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Science of the Rishonim on “celestial spheres”

In the writings of the Rishonim, it is not uncommon to see explanations of pesukim or of aggadic concepts using the "celestial spheres" model of the universe. The Rambam in particular uses the idea ...
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Shiurim on Approaches of Meforshim

Does anyone know of any good shiurim that I could find online that go through the approaches of the various meforshim on Torah?
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Primacy of Rash"i

How did Rash"i's commentary on the Torah become the primary (phrasing intentionally vague) commentary among the hundreds of others that have been written?
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Description of the Yetzer HaRa in Parshat Bereshit

In Parshat Bereshit, the yetzer hara's relationship to man is described in very similar langauge to the woman's relationship to man. Regarding the woman, it says (Gen. 3:16) וְאֶל-אִישֵׁךְ ...
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Understanding Rashi's resolution of an ambiguity in Parashat Vayigash

The following is based on a question I wrote in the margin of my chumash about ten years ago. In Yehuda's speech to the Egyptian viceroy (Yosef in disguise) at the beginning of Parashat Vayigash, he ...
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119 views

What is the relationship between the Tzitz and Tzitzit?

My friend and I were pondering the connections between the kohen gadol's tzitz and the tzitzit fringes of the average Yid. Aside from the obvious linguistic relationship (that we don't understand) ...
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Would Avraham's tefillah have been necessary to save Sedom?

Let's say there actually would have been 50 (or 45, or 40...) righteous people in Sedom. Would Hashem have destroyed the city without Avraham's tefillah but saved it due to his tefillah? Was Avraham ...
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Two types of forgetting?

Bereishis 41:51 כי נשני אלהים את כל עמלי ואת כל בית אבי God has caused me to forget all my toil and all my father's house Devarim 25:19 תמחה את זכר עמלק מתחת השמים לא תשכח Erase ...
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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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260 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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153 views

Under what circumstances is a false virgin put to death?

Deut 22:13–21 says that if a man marries a virgin, is intimate with her, and then claims that she is not a virgin, and there is no evidence that she is a virgin, that she is stoned. That seems to be ...
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117 views

How did the trees deviate from God's command?

In Bereshis 1:11 God commands עֵץ פְּרִי עֹשֶׂה פְּרִי לְמִינוֹ however in the next pasuk where it happens we find וְעֵץ עֹשֶׂה-פְּרִי אֲשֶׁר זַרְעוֹ-בוֹ, לְמִינֵהוּ. This discrepancy is explained by ...
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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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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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128 views

Why didn't they call her Mara?

Naomi returns to Israel and tells people to call her Mara cause God has embittered her life (Ruth 1:20). But no one actually ends up calling her Mara. Is a person allowed to change her name for ...