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24 votes
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What literally was the mark of Cain?

Here is a sampling of the interpretations offered by the commentators (all taken from commentaries to the verse in question): Rashi God inscribed (part of) His name on Cain's forehead: חקק לו אות ...
Alex's user avatar
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20 votes
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How could Yocheved be conceived

I just discovered that many Rishonim address this question. For example: Tosafos to Taanis 11a s.v. אסור לאדם אסור לאדם לשמש מטתו בשני רעבון - ואם תאמר הרי יוכבד נולדה בין החומות ואותו העת עת רעב היה ...
robev's user avatar
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19 votes
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Why the reverse order of "Zachor Veshamor" in "Lecha Dodi"?

The beginning of each stanza spells the name of the author שלמה הלוי. I surmise that the author wanted to spell his name and therefore reversed the order.
Gershon Gold's user avatar
19 votes

What literally was the mark of Cain?

Midrash, Bereishit Rabbah 22:12 וַיָּשֶׂם ה' לְקַיִן אוֹת, רַבִּי יְהוּדָה וְרַבִּי נְחֶמְיָה. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אָמַר הִזְרִיחַ לוֹ גַּלְגַּל חַמָּה, אָמַר רַבִּי נְחֶמְיָה לְאוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע הָיָה ...
ezra's user avatar
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18 votes

The claim that Midrash Genesis Rabbah 35 refers to a virgin birth of the messiah?

This midrash does not exist in Bereishit Rabba. Indeed, the verse referenced by the translation "Behold the man whose name is Zemach [branch], and he shall branch up out of his place" is ...
magicker72's user avatar
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16 votes

Did Avraham Avinu really have a daughter named Bakol?

Bava Batra (16b) records a dispute (found earlier in Tosefta Kiddushin (5:17 in R. Lieberman's edition) regarding the interpretation of Genesis (24:1) which states that God blessed Abraham "bakol" (...
mevaqesh's user avatar
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15 votes
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How did Rivka get married when she was three years old?

The following I remember from a Sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe: Rashi at the end of Parshas VaYeira feels the need to explain why the "news" Abraham received about his family tree is written right ...
David Kenner's user avatar
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14 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. ...
user6591's user avatar
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13 votes
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Was the Mishkan Built on Shabbat?

This question is addressed by several Acharonim. R. Pinchas Horowitz says that during the 7 days of inauguration Moshe did not erect the Mishkan by himself. Since multiple people did the act together ...
Alex's user avatar
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13 votes
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Who First Knew of the Messiah

The first individual to know of the Messiah was Adam HaRishon. This is stated explicitly in Sanhedrin 38b in the name of Reish Lakish, by Yose ben Chalafta in Seder Olam Rabbah 30 and Rabbi Yehuda bar ...
Yaacov Deane's user avatar
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11 votes
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What age were Leah and Rachel when they got married

The Seder Olam Rabba (ed. Leiner) states (ch. 2) that they were twins and were both 22 when they got married: נמצאו רחל ולאה נשאו בנות כ"ב כ"ב, שהיו תאומות Thus, Rachel and Leah were both ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
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11 votes
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What causes a person to remain in this world as a ghost?

R. Ezekiel Landau discusses this aspect of the tale in his commentary there. He explains that the spirit cannot leave the body until the body decomposes, and that is why we conduct burials in a manner ...
Alex's user avatar
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11 votes

If God removed prophecy from the gentiles because of Bilaam's wickedness, how come that Obadiah who was a gentile was a prophet?

Ovadiah the prophet, at the time of his prophecy, was Jewish, not a gentile. He had converted. See Sanhedrin 39b: מר אפרים מקשאה תלמידו של רבי מאיר משום רבי מאיר עובדיה גר אדומי היה והיינו דאמרי ...
josh waxman's user avatar
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10 votes

Did Adam have intercourse with animals?

There is disagreement about this among the commentators. Here is a quote from the Artscroll Rashi Chumash Bereishis 2:23 footnote 4: Divrei Dovid...says that this prohibition [to have relations ...
Jay's user avatar
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10 votes
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Paskening Shlomo out of Shamayim?

R. Yosef Chaim of Baghdad discusses this in his commentary to this Talmudic passage. His answer is that the whole thing was a mere ploy. The Sages actually knew that Shlomo was a worthy person and ...
Alex's user avatar
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10 votes

Did Abraham and Noah know of each other?

The Kad Ha'Kemach by Rabeinu Bachyei ben Asher, implies that Avraham saw Noach (see footnote ג). It is very possible he met him later on on life since they were from different locations. As was ...
sam's user avatar
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10 votes

What is the source that says David wrote Psalms / Tehillim while hiding from Saul

Tehillim 54 לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ בִּנְגִינֹ֗ת מַשְׂכִּ֥יל לְדָוִֽד׃ For the leader; with instrumental music. A maskil of David, בְּב֣וֹא הַ֭זִּיפִים וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ לְשָׁא֑וּל הֲלֹ֥א דָ֝וִ֗ד מִסְתַּתֵּ֥ר ...
simyou's user avatar
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10 votes
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Midrash on the sale of the Machpelah Cave

You're perhaps referring to the Sefer Hayashar on Chayei Sarah: ויכתוב אברהם את הדבר הזה בספר ויחתום, ויעד ארבעה עדים. ואלה שמות העדים: אמיגל בן אבישוע החתי אליחורף בן אשונה החוי, עדון בן אחירע הגרדי,...
Loewian's user avatar
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9 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)...
mevaqesh's user avatar
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9 votes

Dead sea in the midrashim

According to the Midrash Tanchuma (Lech Lecha #8) the Dead Sea apparently became salty due to the sins of those involved in the war of the four kings against the five kings. הוא ים המלח שבעונם נעשה ...
Alex's user avatar
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9 votes

Rav S.R. Hirsch and fairy tales

You may want to check this reference to vol 3, p.263 on regard chanuka: Teach the jewish chanuka, don't feed the child with fairy tales. It does not beguile childhood and youth with the notions ...
Renato S. Grun's user avatar
9 votes
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Would someone please translate this midrash on the death of Moshe?

Here's the first version (some of the punctuation is based on Eisenstein's edition) (some question marks in-between for words I wasn't sure how to translate): “This is none other than the house of ...
Harel13's user avatar
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9 votes
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Where can I find the original Hebrew text for this quote?

That'd be a reference to Lamentations Rabba to chapter 1 verse 14. Here's the Hebrew of your quote from Sefaria's edition: אָמַר אִם אֲנִי מַגְלֶה אוֹתָם דֶּרֶךְ מִדְבָּר, הֵם מֵתִים בָּרָעָב, אֶלָּא ...
Double AA's user avatar
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9 votes
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Who is Rabbi Koryah?

Coincidentally, I happened to research this just last summer. There are two sages that can be identified by this name, one a tanna and the other an amorah: The tanna Rabbi Chelbo of Koreya: This sage ...
Harel13's user avatar
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9 votes
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What’s the source for this midrash?

Shabbat 30b: What did David do? Every Shabbat he would sit and learn all day long to protect himself from the Angel of Death. On that day on which the Angel of Death was supposed to put his soul to ...
shmosel's user avatar
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8 votes

What's a good beginner-friendly collection of aggadah in English?

I think Legends of the Jews by Prof. Louis Ginzberg is the classic work of aggadah. It follows the order of the Torah, and appears in 7 volumes. The first 4 volumes are the actual aggadot, the next ...
Alex's user avatar
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8 votes
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No Flood in Israel?

It is a dispute in Bereishis Rabbah 33:6 whether Eretz Yisrael was flooded. According to R’ Beivai, who holds that it was flooded, the inhabitants obviously died. According to R’ Abba bar Kahana and R’...
DonielF's user avatar
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8 votes

Source wanted: Talmudic story about the power of teshuvah

I think you're referring to the story of R. Elazar ben Dodaya, which can be found in Avodah Zarah 17a. To summarize the story, it was said about a man named Elazar ben Dodaya that there was not a ...
Joel K's user avatar
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8 votes

Was Eliezer a tzaddik or a rasha?

In this medrash Talpiot written by Hamekubal Rav Eliyahu Hacohen of Izmir about 300 years ago he writes in entry "Eliezer" (the entries are written in alphabetical order) Eliezer did a kabalistic ...
user15464's user avatar
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8 votes

What literally was the mark of Cain?

No answer is complete without the Kabbalistic interpretation Tikkunei Zohar 118,2: הָכָא תָב בִּתְיוּבְתָּא וְאִתְחַרַט, בְּגִין דָּא וַיָּשֶׂם יהו"ה לְקַיִן אוֹת (שם, טו), הָכָא רָמַז אוֹת בְּרִית ...
user15464's user avatar
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