18 votes

How did Jacob manage to have 12 children in 7 years?

The Rashbam to Bereishis 43:33 writes that not only were the 6 sons of Leah born in 7 years, but also all of the other sons of Yaakov (with the obvious exception of Binyamin, who is explicitly ...
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17 votes
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What was Avraham Avinu's mother's name?

Her name was אמתלאי בת כרנבו. ואמר רב חנן בר רבא אמר רב אמיה דאברהם אמתלאי בת כרנבו אמיה דהמן אמתלאי בת עורבתי וסימניך טמא טמא טהור טהור Bava Basra 91a (I knew it existed, but will admit to ...
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17 votes

How could Yaakov have relations with a wife (Leah) whom he hated?

As per DanF's comment and the commentary of the Stone Chumash: Ramban cites Radak that Jacob surely loved Leah, but that his greater love for Rachel made her seem unloved -- or even hated -- by ...
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  • 36.7k
13 votes
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Who was older, Miriam or Aaron?

Tosafot Bechorot 4a: דלא היה אהרן בכור דמרים גדולה ממנו ג' שנים כדאמר במדרש [ריש פ' שמות] כמו שהיה אהרן גדול ממשה ג' שנים Aharon was not the firstborn, because Miriam was three years older ...
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  • 38.5k
13 votes
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Are there any Midrashim where Yitzchak was actually sacrificed by Avraham?

A collection of four medrashim can be seen here along with their translations and an explanation. Pirkay DeRabbi Eliezer, ch. 31. ר' יהודה אמר: כיון שהגיע החרב על צוארו, פרחה ויצאה נשמתו של יצחק. ...
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  • 32.3k
12 votes

Why was Yitzhak "laughing" with his wife openly?

A) Why were they having relations during the daytime? Where do you see that it says anything about daytime? B) Why were they having relations in a way that others could see? The שפתי חכמים ...
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12 votes

"May God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh" -- in what way?

I heard nice explanation from my rabbi Boruch Myers. As they grew up observant in non-jewish society, so we bless our children that outside influences shouldn't influence them.
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  • 1,137
12 votes

Sarah is Abraham's sister?

There is a Midrash (Megillah 14a) that Sarah was really the same as Yiskah (from Gen 11:28), which would make her Avraham's niece, which is pretty close to a sister. However, Ibn Ezra (Gen 20:12) ...
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11 votes
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"May God make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh" -- in what way?

Ephraim was the younger son and yet he exceeded Menashe, his older brother. The Bnei Yisoschar says that there were two possible negative reactions to this - Menashe could have been jealous of Ephraim ...
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11 votes

Why not send a substitute for Benyamin (sources)?

Chizkuni 44:2 says that actually Yosef was unconvinced it was Binyamin and felt that perhaps it was a stranger from the street. Therefore he hid the goblet by Binyamin to see if the brothers will come ...
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11 votes
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Rachel Imeinu Deceiving Lavan while pregnant

The Midrash (Megillah 17a) says Yaakov spent 2 years tarrying on his way back from Lavan (18 months in Sukkot and 6 months in Beit-El). So there's no way Rachel was already pregnant when she saw her ...
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10 votes
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Why did Yaakov wait to marry?

The Maharam Shik posed this question in the first teshuva on Even Ha'ezer. (See the second and third paragraphs here). He says that the Avot wanted to have holy descendants and therefore delayed the ...
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  • 1,319
10 votes
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Did Jacob actually send angels to Esau?

Very interesting question! However, Rashi is relying on the Midrash in Bereshit Raba (75:4): מלאכים - אלו שלוחי בשר ודם. ורבנן אמרי מלאכים ממש. Rashi, citing Rabanan, comments that the meaning is ...
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  • 975
10 votes

How could Yaakov have relations with a wife (Leah) whom he hated?

Rav Hirsch explains that Not "Ki Leah Senuah", that Leah was hated, but כִּי שְׂנוּאָה לֵאָה that the hated one of the two, i.e. the less beloved, was Leah. ... It is significant that the real ...
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  • 41.9k
10 votes
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Did Jacob ever figure out what the Brothers did to Joseph?

Ramban (Genesis 45:27) writes that according to the peshat, it does not appear that Yaakov ever found out what happened to Yosef: יראה לי על דרך הפשט שלא הוגד ליעקב כל ימיו כי אחיו מכרו את יוסף, ...
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  • 34.9k
10 votes
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Why did the Torah need to be given if the Avos knew and kept it?

1) Revelation at Har Sinai was necessary to make it mandatory. As Mizrachi explains, the reason Avraham waited, until commanded, to perform circumcision is because there is greater merit in fulfilling ...
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10 votes

How was Reuven considered Yaakov's first drop of semen?

One possibility is that the verses in Chapter 29 are not in precise chronological order, and verse 31 actually took place before verse 28. That is to say that God saw that Leah was hated and opened ...
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  • 48k
9 votes
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How many years before Yakov did Rochel die?

Yaakov was 99 when Rachel died. He outlived her by 48 years. The Talmud (Megilah 17a) says that Yaakov was away from his father for 36 years. The first 14 were at the Yeshiva of Ever, 20 were spent ...
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  • 8,173
9 votes
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What was red in the stew that Jacob made for Esau?

I heard once, do not remember from who, questioning the word נא from הלעיטני נא מן האדם האדם הזה - since when did Eisav say please? The answer I was told was Eisav was not saying please, Eisav was ...
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9 votes

Dovid got lifespan from Adam and/or the Avos

Yes at first glance they are in conflict. Sefer Yosef Tehilos 42:9 (Chida) reconciles this with the explanation that David did not sleep and this the nights counted towards the 140 years. יומם יצוה ה׳...
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9 votes

Limited procreation of the patriarchs

Sarah having a child a 90 was a miracle. You want to know why another miracle didn't occur? Rivka had her uterus destroyed by Esav as he was born. He did this specifically so she should not have 12 ...
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  • 32.3k
8 votes

Places in Tanach where Yaakov & Eliyahu are spelled different than usual

Yaakov with a vav: Leviticus (26:42), Jeremiah (30:18), (33:26), (46:27), (51:19). Eliyahu without a vav: II Kings (1:3), (1:4), (1:8), (1:12), Malachi (3:23).
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  • 34.9k
8 votes
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Who killed Nimrod?

The Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer does indeed state that Esav killed Nimrod (ed. Higger ch. 31). This is also found in Yalkut Shimoni (Parashat Tol'dot 110) and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (Parashat Tol'dot 25:27)...
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  • 34.9k
8 votes
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Name changing and mazal with 2 of our fathers and 1 mother

The Talmud states that changing one's name can tear up the decree against them, and derives this from Sarah who had a child after her name was changed: Rosh Hashana 16b וא"ר יצחק ד' דברים מקרעין ...
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  • 48k
7 votes

How could Yaakov name his children Gad and Dan?

In my newest book, God versus Gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry (Mosaica Press, 2018) on pg. 322, I address this question: R. Chaim Palagi (1788–1868) asks why Jacob allowed his son to be called ...
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7 votes
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Do Jews pray to deceased forefathers?

For a long time there have been Jews who have indeed beseeched the dead. However, numerous sources state that this is prohibited. Some state that it is permitted if the request is not directly from ...
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  • 34.9k
7 votes

Did anyone recognize (pray, follow, worship) God between Adam and Avraham?

Yehuda Halevi in the Kuzari 1:47, (translated), says that there is a chain of sainted individuals from Adam, Seth and Enosh to Noah; then Shem and Eber to Abraham; then Isaac and Jacob to Moses. The ...
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  • 8,074
7 votes

Did Yitzchak have free will?

Avot 3:19 says: "Rabbi Akiva said: All is foreseen, but freedom of choice is given. The world is judged in goodness, yet all is proportioned to one's work." This is a classic conundrum: if we have ...
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7 votes

Yitzchak Avinu and Eretz Yisrael

Rashi on Breishit 26:2 (@Yez is correct). Summarizing Rashi and Sifsei Chachamim's emmendations - Yitzhak was considered as a sacrifice (which, he was from the akieda). Sifsei Chachamim says he was ...
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  • 69k
7 votes
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Why is Yaakov later willing to say אלוהי יצחק?

Rashi himself asks and answers this question! On 32:9, he writes that his purpose is to provide a direct quote of Hashem for the sake of his argument/plea: ואלהי אבי יצחק: ולהלן הוא אומר (לא מב) ופחד ...
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