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24

According to the Rambam in the Guide of the Perplexed "Whenever it is possible to interpret the words of an individual in such a manner that they confirm to a being whose existence has been demonstrated, this is the conduct that is more fitting and most suitable for an equitable man of excellent nature." Even though I'm certain this will be controversial, ...


17

Among the classical Torah commentators, there are those that interpret that whole Garden of Eden story as being literal historical fact, while others interpret it allegorically. The main authority who treats it as allegory is Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (Volume 2, Chapter 30), and according to his interpretation, the snake represents a person's "appetitive ...


17

The Gemara (Chagigah 12a) records a debate about this. One opinion (R' Elazar and R' Yaakov) is that the light referred to here is an intense light with special powers; G-d afterwards concealed it, realizing that there would be unworthy people who wouldn't deserve to make use of such light, and set it aside as part of the future reward of the righteous. The ...


16

First, it may not be valid to assume that creation was bound by the laws of science as we now understand them. Why should we assume that the very first plants grew by photosynthesis in the same way that plants do now? Or if we do, why not assume that the primordial light created on the first day was enough to produce this effect? But setting all that ...


14

The Ibn Ezra says - in his initial explanation - to guard it from animals so they don't enter and sully the garden: ולשמרה מכל החיות שלא יכנסו שם ויטנפוהו The Seforno says - if I understand correctly - to guard the fruit/trees? from rotting ולשמרה. שלא תפסד בהתכת הליחות השרשי הנתך בחום הטבעי וזה כי אותם הפירות הנכבדים היו מולידים תמיד תמורת מה ...


13

The answer is, at the heart, there is broad consensus among the Rishonim that when necessary one may depart from the "literal" meaning (apparent intent, peshat) of the Torah text (though even then there are limits). We are left with a few things to work out: How do we define necessary? Does our difficulty rise to the level of "necessary"? Does departing ...


13

Bava Metzia 87a: Until Abraham there was no old age; whoever wished to speak to Abraham would speak to Isaac, and the reverse. Thereupon he prayed, and old age came into existence, as it is written, And Abraham was old and well-stricken in age. So during the age when people lived 200+ years, they showed no signs of age.


12

At the core of your question is the assumption that the flood and its fallout was natural, and was subject merely to the laws of nature as we see them today. I do not accept that premise, however I think that one can still reconcile the evidence we see nowadays with the flood in a cogent way that draws upon the natural sciences we accept. I will attempt to ...


12

This question really touches on what the purpose of the Tree of Knowledge was. Why would G-d not want them to eat from a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Isn't that the most important knowledge to have? In Moreh Nevuchim 1:1 Rambam develops an approach to understanding this (in which he alludes to your question). As I understand his answer, it is ...


11

The Lubavitcher Rebbe brings this idea in Likkutei Sichos (vol. 36 pg. 75 - free translation): The ultimate purpose in creating the Tree of Knowledge was not merely to serve as a test to Adam HaRishon that he should not eat from it, but rather for man to transform the Tree of Knowledge and elevate it above the concept of death. It is explained in ...


10

No, it doesn't change the meaning. The letter bes that starts that word appears with a dot in it usually, but without one after a word (in the same phrase) that ends in an open syllable. (Usually.) The pronunciation changes between these two forms, but not the meaning. It's not unique to this word, either, but true of all words that start with a bes, gimel, ...


10

The Ibn Ezra (5:29) writes: והשואלים מי היתה אשת קין ושת, מה טעם לשאלה הזאת, כי כתוב באדם ויולד בנים ובנות, וכן כולם` Those who ask who was the wife of Kain and Sheis, what is the cause for such a question - it is written by Adam that he had sons and daughters, and so too all of them. According to the footnotes* on the Ibn Ezra brought in the ...


10

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 38b says that Kayin married his twin sister. The Medrash HaGadol says her name was Kenunoso. (Source: Tamma DeKra from Rav Chaim Kanievski.)


9

As l' said, the chapter divisions are indeed of Christian origin. This article says that the originator of this division separated Shabbos from the other weekdays for reasons having to do with Christian theology, but doesn't specify how. I seem to recall reading a suggestion that the idea behind it was to downplay our Shabbos in favor of their Sunday.


9

Pesachim 54A says the rainbow was created on the sixth day: Ten things were created on the eve of the Sabbath at twilight. These are they: the well, the manna, the rainbow, the writing and the writing instrument[s], the Tables, the sepulchre of Moses, the cave in which Moses and Elijah stood, the opening of the ass's mouth, and the opening of the earth's ...


8

The 'catch all' meaning of the word 'yom' is 'time period' The precise meaning of yom in tanach has 4 meanings depending on the context. Either Yom as in daylight (12 hours) Yom as a single day (24 hours) Yom as a year or two (As used in shmuel and Yehoshua) Yom can be an indefinite amount of time, such as the word 'b'yom meaning 'when, or the phrase ...


8

Try this article at Chabad.org, which quotes (in translation) the classic sources on the subject. Briefly, it's the idea that Hashem first created the ten sefiros as the "world of Tohu," as independent entities, where each one is is exclusively "thus and no other way" - i.e., chesed ("kindness") is pure chesed, gevurah ("severity") is pure gevurah, etc.; ...


8

Targum Pseudo Jonathan to Genesis 2:15, ודבר השם אלקים ית אדם מן טור פולחנא אתר דאתבריא מתמן ואשריה בגינוניתא דעדן...‏ And God took Adam from the mountain of worship, the place from which he was created, and put him in the Garden of Eden Pirush Yonatan says this refers to mount Moriah, the Temple Mount Targum Pseudo Jonathan Genesis 22:2, ...


8

It's pretty hard to ask any questions from the first two chapters of Genesis, considering both the esoteric nature of both the topic and the fact that the world seems to have rather different back then in a way that may be inherently incomprehensible for us now that we've been evicted from Eden. That being said, there are several approaches to this ...


8

Funny, I asked myself the same thing last year, and eventually found an interesting answer in the Hertz Chumash. Hertz comments that: The same Hebrew root signifies both 'naked' and 'subtle, clever, mischievous'. Seeming simplicity is often the most dangerous weapon of cunning. The gliding stealthy movements of a serpent is a fitting symbol of the ...


8

See here for more. Biblical Hebrew employs a rule called the "vav ha-hipuch." The preceding "v'" flips the tense from past to future, or vice versa. Thus "yehi chen", it will be so; "vayhi chen", it was so. "Amar Paroh", Pharaoh said; "v'amar Paroh livnei yisrael" -- Pharoh will say regarding the Jews. "Moshe yedaber", Moses would speak. "Vaydaber Moshe" ...


7

Short answer: There are different opinions, each with their own proofs and backings. Long answer: Avi's answer explains the different meanings of "yom" quite well. It is my understanding that up until recently, most Rabbis agreed that in regard to creation, it meant a 24 hour period. Once scientists came up with theories about the age of the universe many ...


7

it's not in plural form, see how the verb is. another example in hebrew is the word maim (water), which has no singular or plural. this may seem plural to you but it actually isn't, simply because god is one. your question is basically on the quality of the translation. one can see (at least as an reflection) the importance each culture (or language) gives ...


7

R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi (in Tanya, Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah ch. 4) explains that the name Elokim "shields" the name Havayah, and makes it possible for finite and (seemingly) independent creatures to exist in the first place. Thus, Elokim represents (and is the source of) the tzimtzum, the "contraction" of Divine energy that made "room" for the various ...


7

The Rambam says that the details of the chapter of the Creation (I suppose, Gen. 1 and 2) should not be taught to the masses lest they misunderstand or twist what it means (Guide to the Perplexed, 2:17). An implication may perhaps be drawn that the literal reading is not all that there is to the story of Creation and that, perhaps, it should not be taken as ...


7

It is important to keep in mind that the effectively universal opinion1 in Orthodox Judaism is that Gd takes no image. So when Gd is described as anthropomorphic in any Jewish literature, in order to understand that description, we must think in an abstract, metaphorical way. This view is codified explicitly in Maimonides' 13 Principles of faith, which he ...


7

While you may not be so satisfied with this answer, I do know of a commentary that discusses the juxtaposed phraseology: the Ibn Ezra. However, he says not to make anything of it, and that it's merely a stylistic device: ופירוש ערום חכם שיעשה דבריו בערמה ואל תתמה בעבור היות ערום אחרי ערומים והם שני טעמים. כי באלה הצחות בלשון כמו בלחי החמור חמור חמורתים ...


7

Rashi says it is "the day of the One". Because the angels weren't created until day two, God was the only sentient being on this day. Obviously this reason doesn't apply from day two onwards, per Rashi's words. Kli Yakar prefers to say that the verse is asserting that one God created both light/day, and dark/evening, as the Sages would take care to mention ...


7

Shepherds move herds. They help raise animals (which provide milk and wool, especially the sheep). There is nothing in the job description of a shepherd that requires killing animals.



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