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וַיְהִי בָרָד וְאֵשׁ מִתְלַקַּחַת בְּתוֹךְ הַבָּרָד The word בתוך can either mean "inside of", or "among". An example of the former is Genesis (9:21): "And he uncovered himself inside his tent" וַיִּתְגַּל בְּתוֹךְ אָהֳלֹה An example of the latter usage is Genesis (23:10): And Efron sat "inside" (i.e. among) the sons of Ches. וְעֶפְרוֹן ...


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I think the common Midrashic interpretation was that each hailstone had fire within it. (That's the way it's illustrated when taught to kids.) Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan translates instead as "hailstorm", and one other tweak: "fire" means lightning. We thus have a phenomenon that ever-so-slightly bends the laws of nature, rather than breaks them: With lightning ...



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