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

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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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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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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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Rachav's home in the wall

Rachav's home was built into the wall of Y'richo, with an outward-facing window (Y'hoshua 2:15, M'tzudas David). This window had to be recognizable when the Jews destroyed the city, so they'd know to ...
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How was Moses able to speak to G-d “face to face”?

I'm trying to resolve what seems to be a conflict with two verses: Exodus 33:20: וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לֹ֥א תוּכַ֖ל לִרְאֹ֣ת אֶת־פָּנָ֑י כִּ֛י לֹֽא־יִרְאַ֥נִי הָאָדָ֖ם וָחָֽי׃‏ And He said: ‘You can ...
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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 did the Bnei Yisroel deviate from God's command to ask for gold and silver?

Hashem told The Bnei Yisroel to ask the Egyptians for "silver and gold" in Shemos, Chapter 11, Verse 2: Please, speak into the ears of the people, and let them borrow, each man from his friend and ...
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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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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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How did Shaul consult the Urim and Tumim?

During the events of chapters 27–31 of I Sh'muel (David's stay among the P'lishtim), David had the Urim V'sumim with him, as is clear from 23:2–6 and from 30:7–8. Yet in 28:6, Shaul consults Hashem ...
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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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What sort of “food” did the midwives provide for the children (Rashi on Shemos 1 (17))?

Rashi on Shemos 1 (17) comments on the expression “... but they enabled the boys to live” and says “They provided water and food for them.” If these were new-borns what sort of food could they have ...
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Why would Haman “restrain himself”?

In Esther (5:9), when Haman leaves the king's palace after Queen Esther's first party, all happy and feeling on top of the world, gets very upset when he sees Mordechai sitting there, and not bowing ...
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Why is Sarah the only woman that has her years lived mentioned?

Breishit 23:1 mentions that Sarah was 127 years old when she died. Ohr Hachaim's commentary seems to glance upon some issues regarding why Sarah's age was mentioned, and he seems to focus on the fact ...
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151 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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Why did Pharaoh not think Moshe and Aaron were magicians?

BSD In this week's Parsha - Shemot Chapter 8 (וָאֵרָא), Pharaoh stands by as Moshe and Aaron perform all of the rites and 'signs' to Pharaoh. After each miracle, the Torah speaks of how Pharaoh's ...
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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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86 views

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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329 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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168 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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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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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 ...
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Shmita and Joseph's Dreams

Shmita is every 7 years and we leave the land unused. In Egypt there were 7 years of feast, then 7 years of famine. As leaving the land unused could be considered famine like conditions, are there any ...
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Questions about the Beginning of Vayechi

My Torah Tidbits this shabbat told me that Vayigash is the only Parsha in the Torah to end before a "paragraph break". (Is this true?) This got me to look more closely at the beginning of Vayechi, ...
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Where did the Plishtim (Philistines) come from?

Concerning the Plishtim (Philistines), Easton's Bible Dictionary (quoted here) says: They occupied the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, in the south-western corner of ...
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Why are the commandments for the holiday of Succot interrupted by commandments regarding sacrifices in general?

Vayikra 23:33-36 discuss the celebration of Succot. Then, verses 37-38 interrupt the discussion by saying a general statement that these are the holidays when you should offer sacrifices. Then, verses ...
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Why were Nadav and Avihu punished?

בס"ד "Rabbi Ishmael says: [They died because] they had entered the sanctuary after having drunk wine. The proof is that after their death, [Scripture] admonished the survivors that they may not ...
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Why is Vayikra 20:27 at the end of the chapter?

This verse in Parshat Kedoshim - Vayikra (Leviticus) 20:27, "A man or a woman who has a ghost or a familiar spirit shall be put to death; they shall be pelted with stones—their bloodguilt shall be ...
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Shmos 2:15 – Moshe fled from Paroh and dwelt in Midian. Why Midian?

Shmos 2:15 – Moshe fled from Paroh and dwelt in Midian. Why did he choose Midian? The only slightly helpful references I saw said a) (attributed to a Medrash but I do not see it) that he was ...
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Eating meat on a regular basis

It says in Vayikra Perek 17 Pasuk 13 (Parshas Achrei-Mos): "וְאִישׁ אִישׁ מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמִן הַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתוֹכָם אֲשֶׁר יָצוּד צֵיד חַיָּה אוֹ עוֹף אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל וְשָׁפַךְ אֶת דָּמוֹ ...
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Questions about the destruction of Sodom and the vicinity

I am having a hard time making heads or tails of the story of the destruction of Sodom and the vicinity. All questions below are questions about the narrative of the story based on the interpretation ...
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“Vashti the queen” vs. “Queen Vashti”

Is there a peshat difference between the usual wording, “ושתי המלכה” Vashti the queen (or “אסתר המלכה” Esther the queen), and the wording used twice in Chapter 1 (verses 12 and 15), “המלכה ושתי” the ...
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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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Yumatu and the plural in Dev 24

Devarim 24:16 makes a statement which is central to Jewish theology. The posuk makes clear that a father will not be put to death for the sins of his son and that a son will not be put to death for ...
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Order of birth of Ya'akov's children

The back of my Feldheim Tanakh has a timeline which gives the birth and death years of various Tanakh characters. The birth years of the sons of Ya'akov are not listed in the order given in Parashat ...
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Are there any different implications from the three ways Achashverosh speaks to Esther?

In Megillat Esther, Achashverosh asks Esther what he can do for her three times (text and translation from chabad.org): 5:3 And the king said to her, "What concerns you, Queen Esther, and what is ...
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How did Ya'akov keep his vow regarding tithing?

With permission, I ask this question with honor and respect to a 92 year old man who paid attention to my laining this morning. May he live a long life! Genesis 28:22: וְהָאֶ֣בֶן הַזֹּ֗את ...
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Wording at the beginning of Nitzavim

Parshas Nitzavim begins (Devarim 29:9-11): אתם נצבים היום כלכם... ראשיכם שבטיכם זקניכם ושטריכם כל איש ישראל. טפכם נשיכם וגרך אשר בקרב מחניך מחטב עציך עד שאב מימיך. לעברך The first ...