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

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6answers
662 views

does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally?

Does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally?
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7answers
649 views

Avot keeping Mitzvot

How are we to understand the tradition that the patriarchs kept all of the mitzvot in the Torah (see for example the last mishna in Kidushin, Rashi Bereshit 32:5, etc.) in light of the many obvious ...
17
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5answers
698 views

Halachic Restrictions not in the Torah, and “shall not add”

How can halachic restrictions that are not in the Torah be reconciled with the Deuteronomy 4:2 passage, which says, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from ...
14
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2answers
3k views

All people in world are Jews?

According to the Book of Genesis, Noah saved his family and representatives of every animal from a flood by constructing a boat. So since all of humanity should be descended from Noah, does that mean ...
11
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4answers
340 views

Is belief in a G-d a commandment?

I am studying to convert to Judaism and one of the questions I was asked was about the Ten Commandments. I remember reading at that time that there was debate about the division of the statements ...
11
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3answers
292 views

Understanding of Ps. 137 before the exile

Psalm 137 starts (in my own translation) On Babylon's rivers, there, we sat, also cried, in our remembering Zion. and continues to describe the scene. Ibn Ezra cites some who hold that David ...
10
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4answers
218 views

Why didn't Mordechai keep Mitzvos — serious edition

It says in the Megilla "ויאמרו עבדי המלך אשר בשער המלך למרדכי מדוע אתה עובר את מצות המלך" - "The servants of the King (who were in the King's gates) asked Mordechai 'Why do you go against the command ...
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4answers
129 views

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 ...
6
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2answers
503 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
222 views

If Ketura wasn't Hagar, who was she?

The Torah tells us (Bereshit 25:1) that "Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah." The Yalkut Shimoni (Iyov 904) says that Ketura was from Yafet (english from here): "Abraham married ...
14
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8answers
609 views

Why did Avraham take gifts from Pharaoh, but not the King of Sodom?

In Bereshit 12:11-16, we see that Avraham was willing to receive gifts from Pharoah: 11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife: 'Behold ...
6
votes
5answers
464 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
336 views

Why is a “leper” allowed to sit with other “lepers”?

In Parshat Tazria (Vayikra 13:46) we are told: All the days the lesion is upon him, he shall remain unclean. He is unclean; he shall dwell isolated; his dwelling shall be outside the camp As ...
13
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7answers
312 views

“I never saw a tzaddik be abandoned…” - how do we understand this?

At the end of bentching we say that "I was young, and I also became old, and I never saw a righteous person be abandoned, and his children asking for bread". How do we reconcile that with the ...
8
votes
5answers
305 views

Why was Akeidas Yitzchok a bigger test (Nisayon) for Avraham than for Yitzchok?

Akeidas Yitzchok was the hardest test that Hashem gave to Avraham. Yet Yitzchok knew and also agreed to go along with it. Then why is it considered a bigger test for Avraham than for Yitzchok?
13
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10answers
436 views

Yaakov Marrying Two Sisters

According to those that say the Avos kept the Torah beforehand (here), how was Yaakov allowed to marry two sisters? (Yes, I'm aware that there are many answers)
11
votes
2answers
170 views

Why didn't Yehoshua give a good report immediately?

When the spies returned from scouting the land and gave their report of mighty opponents, 13:30 tells us that Caleb silenced the crowd and argued for going into the land, and then 13:31 says "the men ...
11
votes
2answers
340 views

What happened to the bechorim (first-borns)?

In the begining of sefer bamidbar, the males between 20 and 60 are counted and it says that there are over 600,000 of them. Theoretically each, or most, of these people should have had a first-born ...
10
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4answers
171 views

Why does Yitzchak's blessing of Yaakov refer to Yaakov's mother's *sons*?

B'reishit 27:29 reads: Let peoples serve thee, and nations bow down to thee. Be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee. Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and ...
9
votes
3answers
305 views

Did all animals come into the Teiva?

Were there any type of animals that were destroyed completely by the Mabul? (For example - Is there any source that there were dinosaurs or any other type of wildlife and they were destroyed by the ...
8
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3answers
264 views

How is “החודש הזה לכם” the first mitzva?

The following question came up in this week's Parshat Hashavua' Chat: Rashi, at the beginning of his commentary to the Torah: אמר רבי יצחק: לא היה צריך להתחיל [את] התורה אלא (שמות יב ב) מהחודש ...
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3answers
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Question about the actions of Pinchas when he killed Zimri

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 82A), while relating the story of Pinchas killing Zimri, tells us the following: "And Phineas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it." (Bamidbar 25:7) Now, ...
6
votes
8answers
215 views

Wording in Torah when Moshe is commanded to appear before pharoh

This shabbos, the parasha, Bo, starts with Moshe being told to "Bo El Paroh", "Come to Pharaoh". I don't understand this wording, should it have said "Lech El Paroh", "go to Pharaoh"? Is there a ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
6
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2answers
688 views

What was the name of Rachel and Leah's mother?

What was the name of Lavan's wife, the mother of Rachel and Leah?
6
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5answers
218 views

(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 ...
5
votes
0answers
81 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
67 views

What was the composition of Yaakov's two camps?

In Parshat Vayishlach Yaakov divides his group into two camps so that if one is attacked the other might escape. How did he divide people between them? Did Leah go in one and Rachel in the other, ...
2
votes
3answers
294 views

What does the term “sons of G-d” mean?

The term "sons of G-d" בני האלהים is found 3 times in the Hebrew Bible, once in Genesis (6:2), and twice in Job (1:6 and 2:1). What does it mean? Does it have the same meaning in both instances? What ...
10
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3answers
249 views

Is the way of the torah pleasant or painful?

In Avot (6:4) we read - כך היא דרכה של תורה, פת במלח תאכל ומים במשורה תשתה ועל הארץ תישן וחיי צער תחיה This is the way of torah... and a life of pain you shall live. contrast this with Mishlei ...
14
votes
7answers
414 views

why half-believe the Torah?

(I'm not sure this is on-topic, and feel free to close it if it's not, of course.) I understand some who study the Bible claim natural reasons for things we recognize as miracles, from the plagues of ...
12
votes
2answers
201 views

The 500 men killed in Shushan, and the 500 Jews who killed Amaleki

Is there a source to connect (mystically, or otherwise) those enemies of the Jews (presumably Amaleki) killed in Megillas Esther 9:12 with the 500 men from the tribe of Shimon who killed out the ...
6
votes
2answers
122 views

Donkey Talked and an Angel Appeared - Who Knew?

Why is no mention made of the reaction, of Balak’s officers who were accompanying Bilaam, to the talking donkey or the revelation of the angel?
13
votes
1answer
296 views

How does Orthodox Judaism view the Book of Jubillees

How is the Book of Jubilees regarded by Orthodox Jewry (I'm not asking if we believe it existed, but if we hold any of the information in it to be accurate). Is it ever quoted by any of the ...
13
votes
3answers
322 views

Let there be light! But from where?

According to Genesis 1:3, "And G-d said, Let there be light; and there was light." What light is the Torah referring to if the sun which produces light by day was created only on the 4th day of ...
12
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2answers
168 views

Why did Hashem not tell Avraham to have a Bris earlier?

Avraham Avinu was told to have a Bris at 99 years of age. Why didn't Hashem have him do a Bris earlier?
5
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1answer
80 views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
293 views

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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1answer
112 views

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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votes
5answers
243 views

“Moshe cried out” - really?

In Parashat Va-eira, Pharaoh, plagued with frogs, asks Moshe and Aharon to "entreat" God to remove the plague and says that he'll respond by releasing the Israelites. Moshe agrees, and then we have ...
3
votes
2answers
377 views

are homosexual relations forbidden by God? Why?

To my understanding, Bible says that God does not like homosexual relations. But why? Why did God punish and destroy inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah? They were not Jewish and were not given the laws ...
20
votes
2answers
415 views

Why are none of the Pharaohs in the Torah identified by name?

Throughout the Torah, the various Egyptian Pharaohs are always referred to as simply "Pharaoh" or "the king of Egypt" (or both), but never with any other parts of their official titulary. By ...
12
votes
3answers
306 views

Why did Achashveirosh take Esther if she was already married?

According to the opinion that Queen Esther was married to Mordechai. Achashveirosh was looking for unmarried girls (Esther 2:2–4). Why did he take a married woman? Especially considering that Queen ...
12
votes
3answers
164 views

Unusual number of males among the 70 who went to Egypt

B'reshis chapter 46 lists the seventy descendants of Yaakov who went to Egypt. It actually lists sixty-nine: let's assume Yocheved was the seventieth, as Rashi explains. It also lists (in pasuk 12) ...
11
votes
3answers
199 views

What does the aramaic “pon” mean?

Once in a while, Onkelos will throw in the word pon (פּוֹן) that doesn't directly translate from the Hebrew. Avimelech to Yitzchak: k'z'eir pon shachiv d'm'yached b'ama (Toldos 26:10) Lavan to ...
10
votes
5answers
182 views

Why not “Vayikra Hashem”

The first pasuk in Vayikra reads: וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֵלָיו…‏ And He called to Moshe, and God spoke to him… Why is the subject on the second verb? It would ...
10
votes
1answer
108 views

Why not “Where is Achashverosh in the Torah”?

In Chullin 139b, the Gemara asks about hints in the Torah for several of the figures in the Megillah, and provides answers: "Where is {Haman, Esther, Mordechai} hinted at in the Torah?" ...
10
votes
1answer
168 views

Why should the patriarchs have lived to 180?

Rashi to B'reshis 25:30 says that Avraham should have lived to the age of 180 had his life not been cut short. Yitzchak lived to 180. The Daas Z'kenim to B'reshis 47:8 quotes a midrash as saying ...
10
votes
2answers
868 views

If shepherds are taboo to Egyptians, what do we make of them having sheep themselves?

Yosef tells his family to say they're shepherds because that's taboo to Egypt: you must say, 'We and our fathers have dealt in livestock all our lives'. You will then be able to settle in the ...