Creation

Carnivorous Animals - Why did God create the world that some animals are carnivorous – and hunt and kill other animals for their food? Couldn’t the world have been created differently? More »
Why Can't God Just Reward Us? - I recently read an Aish article which explained quite cogently why God cannot simply reward man and place him in the World to Come. The basic reasoning is because people would be shamed by receiving something they did not earn.… More »
Covenant of Salt - I see the Torah occasionally refers to covenants of salt – such as the covenant of priesthood with Aaron’s descendants and of sovereignty with King David’s family. Why is salt mentioned? What is its significance? More »
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Adam & Eve

The Creation of Man and the Animals - In our weekly Torah study session, the question came up why the Torah makes special mention of God’s blowing a soul into Adam after creating him (Genesis 2:7). The animals are living beings as well but their bodies and souls… More »
Long Lifespans and Late Childbearing in Genesis - Genesis 5 lists the generations from Adam till Noah, and not only did the people live much longer, but they also didn’t seem to have children until they were much older – averaging at around 100 years. Is there a… More »
Niddah – Monthly Loss of Life - I was learning with a friend, and we were bothered why God created women in such a way that every month her potential to create life is lost. A man may not waste his seed and cause such potential life… More »
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Noah & Flood

Nephilim – Giants in the Torah - The Torah talks about giants in Biblical times – in the times of Noah, Moses, and King David. What are their origins and what happened to them? More »
Is Seeing a Rainbow Good or Bad? - Is seeing a rainbow a good or a bad thing? On the one hand, it’s a majestic creation of God and a beautiful natural phenomenon. On the other, we are taught that it’s a sign God wants to destroy the… More »
Noah’s Curse of Canaan - When Noah became drunk and uncovered, wasn’t it his son Ham who saw him (Genesis 9:22)? Why was his son Canaan cursed? Why not Ham himself? More »
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Abraham

Jewish Overachievers and Why God Chose Abraham - Why is it that the Jews contribute so greatly to the world in so many areas? They are on the forefront of almost every intellectual and social area – in medicine, science, the arts, entertainment, finance, etc. People always talk… More »
Abraham Bowing - When the three angels came to Abraham posing as guests, he bowed before them. He did the same before the Hittites when he purchased a burial site for Sarah. Isn’t bowing a form of idolatry? More »
Isaac’s Age at the Binding (Akeidah) - How old was Isaac when Abraham brought him to Mount Moriah and almost sacrificed him? Was he young enough that Abraham could overpower him? Did he understand what was happening? More »
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Jacob & Family

Jacob’s Possessions and Having it All - When Jacob first meets Esau after having spent years in Haran, he gives him a large gift of animals. At first Esau refuses the gift, but then Jacob convinces him to take it. I know there is a nice lesson… More »
Why Didn’t Joseph Contact His Family? - I was thinking about the story of Joseph in the Torah, and a thought came to me. Why didn't Joseph contact his father Jacob as soon as he became the viceroy of Egypt? Only after the brothers came did he… More »
Joseph Buys the Egyptians and Their Land - I was studying Genesis 47 and I was terribly bothered by the story. Because of the famine, the Egyptians had no food. It was a national emergency. Joseph had spent years storing up grain in anticipation of this. I would… More »
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Book of Genesis – Other

Gaps in Lives of Forefathers; Torah’s Purpose - I noticed that there are a lot of gaps in the lives of our forefathers. For example, we hear almost nothing about Abraham until he was 75 (Genesis 12:4). Jacob was also quite advanced when he escaped to Haran to… More »
King David Descended from Lot’s Daughters - Yesterday I was reading in Genesis the story of Lot’s daughters who bore children from him and begat the nations of Amon and Moab. It then struck me that since King David’s great-grandmother was Ruth the Moabite, it means that… More »
Enosh, Calling God’s Name, and the Origins of Idolatry - I was studying the book of Genesis and came across the statement that in the time of Enosh, Adam’s grandson, mankind began calling in the name of God (4:26). Can you explain to me what that’s all about and if… More »
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Moses

Gaps in Lives of Forefathers; Torah’s Purpose - I noticed that there are a lot of gaps in the lives of our forefathers. For example, we hear almost nothing about Abraham until he was 75 (Genesis 12:4). Jacob was also quite advanced when he escaped to Haran to… More »
Moses’s Cushite Wife - Who was the Ethiopian (Cushite) wife that Moses took (Numbers 12:1)? Is she the same wife as Jethro’s daughter Zipporah whom Moses earlier married (Exodus 2:21), and later came back to him in the desert (Exodus 18)? Also, why were… More »
120 Year Lifespan - I was curious about the blessing we give people to live till 120 years. What is the origin of the expression? Is that just a nice, very high number, or is that considered the upper limit? I wouldn’t think so… More »
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Slavery, Plagues, Exodus

Duration of Slavery in Egypt - How long did the actual slavery of Egypt last? When the Children of Israel first descended to Egypt, they were treated with honor as Joseph’s family, and only after he died did the slavery begin. Do the Sages state anywhere… More »
Appearance of Names in the Torah - I’m trying to find a consistent pattern in the Torah regarding the identification of people. Sometimes very minor characters are named, while sometimes very significant ones are left anonymous. For example, the Torah mentions several Pharaohs – at the time… More »
Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? - I always had the impression that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was Ramesses II, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Does the Torah or Talmud shed any light on his identity? More »
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Sinai & Ten Commandments

Tabernacle

The Tabernacle’s Construction and the Shamir - When the Children of Israel constructed the Tabernacle, some of the tasks required doing very fine, delicate work – which seems to be beyond the technology that existed in those days. How for example were they able to carve out… More »
Anointing and “The Anointed One” (Messiah) - When was anointing done in Biblical times? Is it still practiced today? More »
Where is the Ark of the Covenant Today? - Does anyone know where the Ark of the Covenant is today? Was it taken by the Romans when the Temple was destroyed? More »
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Book of Exodus – Other

Jethro’s Many Names - I have been studying Scripture, and it seems that Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, seems to have different names in different places. Did he have multiple names? What was his actual name? More »
Widows and Orphans: Stop the Suffering - The Torah says (Exodus 22:20-23): "Don't taunt or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt... Don't cause pain to widows or orphans." Why is this so important? More »
The Complaint Syndrome - I have a problem with complaining. I always seem to be “looking sideways,” checking out what other people have and wondering why I can’t have it, too. This distracts me from moving ahead with my own unique set of skills.… More »
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Offerings & Priests (Kohanim)

Will There be Sacrifices in the Third Temple? - Will there be sacrifices in the Third Temple? I heard that they were only necessary in the olden days when people were more primitive and felt a need to offer sacrifices to God, as the pagans of the time were… More »
The Cruel Death of the Scapegoat - In the Yom Kippur service with the two goats, it bothers me that one of the goats – the se’ir la’azazel – is taken out to be pushed off a cliff. The Mishna (Yoma 6:6) teaches that it was dashed… More »
Sacrifices versus Idolatry - I’ve never really been able to wrap my head around the concept of korbanot (sacrifices). To me it seems like such a primitive act, offering meat to God, a throwback to pagan practices. Where is the room for such a… More »
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Book of Leviticus

Items Doomed to God - I’m trying to make sense out of Leviticus 27:28-29. It seems to state that all items doomed to God, whether people, animals, or fields, may not be redeemed. They are most holy to God and must be destroyed or put… More »
Tzara’at versus Leprosy - Do we know the identity of the disease of tzara’at in the Torah (Leviticus 13-14)? Is it the identical disease when a person contracted it as when it appeared on a garment? More »
Uncleanness and Pure Blood After Childbirth - I was studying Leviticus 12 and came across the notion of a woman’s impurity after childbirth. What is the notion of her observing days of “pure blood?” Also, why is it that a woman is impure for a longer period… More »
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Book of Numbers

Year and Date of Aaron’s Death - In what year did Aaron die? Numbers 33:38 writes explicitly that Aaron died in the 40th year in the desert, at the age of 123. But Deuteronomy 10:6 seems to say Aaron died in the second year in the desert,… More »
Jethro’s Many Names - I have been studying Scripture, and it seems that Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, seems to have different names in different places. Did he have multiple names? What was his actual name? More »
Balaam’s Lack of Surprise at Donkey’s Speech - In Torah study group last week, we were discussing Balaam and his attempt to curse Israel. One thing which really struck us is how Balaam doesn’t even seem surprised when his donkey started talking to him! He just answers back!… More »
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Book of Deuteronomy

Firstborn (Bechor) Privileges - I’ve been studying Deuteronomy with my children and was at a loss to explain why the firstborn receives a double portion of the inheritance (21:17). What is the basis for this? More »
Remarrying One’s Divorcee - I have been studying the Bible much more seriously in recent months to try to understand Moses’s words in their original context. Can you explain to me the basis for the law that one may not remarry his divorcee? More »
Rebellious Son (Ben Sorer U’Moreh) Punished for Future - In reading last week’s Torah portion, I was very disturbed by the section on the rebellious son (ben sorer u’moreh; Deuteronomy 21:8:21). The Torah basically says that a child is stoned to death for not listening to his parents –… More »
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Chumash - Misc.

Gaps in Lives of Forefathers; Torah’s Purpose - I noticed that there are a lot of gaps in the lives of our forefathers. For example, we hear almost nothing about Abraham until he was 75 (Genesis 12:4). Jacob was also quite advanced when he escaped to Haran to… More »
Yearly Parsha (Torah Reading) Cycle - As we come to the end of the cycle of reading the Torah. I am curious as to when and who divided up the Torah into its different weekly sections, and who gave them their names? More »
Kid in Mother’s Milk not Taken Literally - The Torah states a clear law, “You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” How in the world can this be taken as the basis for not eating meat and milk together at all, not even in the… More »
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