Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange
34

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, ...


22

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 ...


20

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 ...


16

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 שנתך ...


14

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 ...


14

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

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.)


12

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 seforim ...


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. For the purposes of this answer I will 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 ...


11

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 ...


11

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 sefer ...


11

For example, the posuk (5:32) says that Noach begot Sheim (Chom and Yefes) when he was 500 so I added 500 on to 1056 and got 1556. But it doesn't say what order they were born in. Rashi later on (10:21) points out that Yefet is older since we know (11:10) Shem was 100 years old only 2 years after the flood, whereas we know (7:6) the flood started when Noach ...


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

This is not an accurate presentation of the Rambam. While the Rambam does not accept a literal reading of the creation story (as cited here, and see here), nowhere does he extend this to "all of the early biblical stories until the advent of Abraham." For example, the Rambam was criticized for his view (Moreh Nevukhim 2:47) that only the people mentioned in ...


10

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, ...


10

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 ...


10

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 ...


10

Lots of acharonim theorized about this, but it turns out that this is essentially a Midrash Tanchuma (Buber edition Parshat Bereishit #11): אמר ר' יצחק לא היה צריך לכתוב את התורה אלא מהחדש הזה לכם ולמה כתב מבראשית להודיע כח גבורתו שנאמר כח מעשיו הגיד לעמו לתת להם נחלת גוים In fact Rashi mentions basically the same idea in his commentary to Tehillim (111:...


9

Satan in Judaism is a very different beast than satan in popular culture (pun intended) The snake in the garden of Eden is identified as the personification of the "Yetzerh Harah" (Bad/evil will/desires/inclination) by the midrashim. The Talmud also states that the Yetzer Harah, Satan, and the angel of death are one. (Some might understand this to mean ...


9

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 'Ad ...


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

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.; ...


9

Avot D'Rabbi Nattan (ch. 11) quotes R. Shimon Ben Elazar who is pretty explicit that this refers to physical labor; cited by Meiri to Avot (ch. 1). This is clear from the Hovot HaLevavot (Shaar HaBitahon ch. 3) and is the implication of Recanti as well. Sifrei (Ekev 41) writes that it refers to service of God Specifically, "to work it" refers to [Torah] ...


9

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" ...


9

The biblical commentator Rashi references the talmud when he writes: and you shall not touch it: She added to the command; therefore, she came to diminish it. That is what is stated (Prov. 30:6): “Do not add to His words.” - [from Sanh. 29a] The Chizkuni expands on this: The truth is that when one adds a restriction to G-d’s commandment, instead of ...


8

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 ...


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

Rashi says that the name occurred earlier and we're just being told this later: And the man named: Scripture returns to its previous topic (2:20): “And the man named,” and it interrupted only to teach you that through the giving of names, Eve was mated to him, as it is written (above 2:20): “but for man, he did not find a helpmate opposite him.” Therefore,...


8

Malbim explains that Adam had been calling her "woman" because of her role as his helpmeet. Since she failed in that role by ill-advising him to eat from the tree, he stopped calling her that. Instead, he called her after her remaining function to him: mothering his children. Haamek Davar has a long thesis regarding the sin of Adam and Eve, its causes, and ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible