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 »
Cosmetic Surgery – What does the Torah say about nose jobs – both from a legal and philosophic point of view? Are they permitted, or is this considered tampering with Creation? 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

Adam’s Children’s Marriages – I was wondering who the children of Adam and Eve married. If they were the world’s first people, who could they marry other than each other – meaning that brothers married sisters? Is that what happened? More »
Adam’s Sin and the Decree of Death – The Torah states that on the day Adam would eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge he would surely die (Genesis 2:17). Yet although he was punished when he sinned, he didn’t die on that day, but lived… More »
Choosing Good Over Evil – For a long time it has bothered me what the Torah means by: "God created man in His image" (Genesis 1:27). Given that human beings are finite and corporal, how are we created in God's image? More »
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Noah & Flood

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 »
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 »
Meat After the Flood – Why was man permitted to eat meat after the Flood (Genesis 9:2-3)? Does the fact that at his creation man was not allowed to eat meat indicate that this is the ideal state of man? But if so, what changed… More »
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Abraham

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 »
Abraham & Independence – I notice that the first “command” given to the first Jew, Abraham, is to "Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you." (Genesis 12:1) Is this… More »
Avraham Serving the Angels – In Genesis 18:8, three angels appear to Abraham. It says that Abraham served them milk and a calf. I realize that the laws of kashrut prohibiting mixtures of milk and meat were not given until 500 years later, but wouldn't… More »
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Jacob & Family

Angel injuring Jacob’s Thigh – When the angel fought against Jacob, why specifically did he injure him in his thigh? Is there a special significance to it? More »
Brothers' Reunion – I'm within a few weeks of turning 49. Having been raised in a non-observant Jewish environment, I only began my Jewish education a year ago and am planning to have my bar mitzvah 37 years late. What is the applicable… More »
Jacob Buys the Birthright for Soup – I’m studying the story of Jacob and Esau and I am so bothered by the simple storyline. Imagine the scenario. Two brothers, one is sitting at home studying and the other returns from an exhausting day at work. He asks… More »
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Book of Genesis – Other

Cain and Abel: Anger At Others – The story of Cain and Abel always intrigued me. But I never understood what they were fighting about. The text doesn’t really say. Can you shed some light for me? 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 »
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 »
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Moses

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 »
As Great as Moses – All my friends seem to be talented and smart. I'm just kind of average. I try really hard, but can't seem to ever reach a level of excellence. It's getting me worried about my future. What should I do? More »
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 »
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Slavery, Plagues, Exodus

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 »
Archaeology and the Exodus – I am in touch with someone who is interested in Judaism, but wants to understand its validity from a historic and archeological perspective. He is very bright, a Ph.D. in mathematics. He made me a challenge that he would take… More »
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 »
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Sinai & Ten Commandments

How Can There be a Mitzvah to Believe in Hashem? – We have been studying the Ten Commandments in school, and something really struck me. The first commandment is to believe in God. This got me thinking. How can we be commanded to believe in God? If a person does believe… More »

Tabernacle

Anointing and “The Anointed One” (Messiah) – When was anointing done in Biblical times? Is it still practiced today? More »
Half-Shekel Equality – Before Purim, the rabbi put out a plate and told everyone to give a half-shekel (or its local equivalent). I understand this was done in the times of the Tempe to purchase public offerings. But what is its relevance today? More »
Number of Branches on Menorah – I'm confused. My Chanukah menorah has 9 branches, but the Menorah in our synagogue has 7. Why the difference? 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 »
Redemption of Firstborn Donkey – Why was the donkey the only non-kosher animal whose firstborn required redemption? More »
Shofar Blasts in Month of Elul – I recently heard a lecture where the speaker, discussing recent events in Israel and the Middle East, mentioned in passing that these events are befitting the Jewish month of Elul. Although many listeners nodded in understanding, I was not sure… More »
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Offerings & Priests (Kohanim)

Animal Offerings Today – I was reading the Book of Leviticus and this got me wondering: Why don't Jews bring animal offerings today? I know there is no Holy Temple in Jerusalem, but does that prevent any offerings from being done? More »
Atonement Today – I am a bit shocked by the Bible's emphasis on animal offerings. It seems quite violent and inhumane. Is that really what Judaism teaches? 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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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 »
Mice and Uncleanness – I’m very uncomfortable. Our house is infested with mice and I know the Torah says that mice are unclean. Does this mean I shouldn’t be living in my house? Am I not allowed to eat food they come in contact… More »
Slander & Skin Disease – The Bible (Leviticus ch. 13-14) speaks of a disease called tzara'as which is translated as "leprosy." What causes this exactly? More »
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Book of Numbers

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 »
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 »
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 »
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Book of Deuteronomy

Chosen People – Source of Anti-Semitism? – I’ve often heard the Jews referred to as the “Chosen People.” Isn’t that possibly the source of much of the anti-Semitism in the world? More »
Eishet Yefat To’ar – Woman Captured in War – I find Deuteronomy 21:10-14 to be quite shocking. How can the Torah permit soldiers raping and capturing women in battle and keeping them against their will? It seems so inconsistent with so much else the Torah teaches us about marriage… More »
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 »
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Chumash - Misc.

Ancient versus Modern Hebrew Script – It’s known that the ancient Israelites wrote in a totally different script of Hebrew than the one used today. Wouldn’t the earlier one have been the original script of Hebrew – the one the Torah was given in? If so,… 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 »
Bible Translation – I just returned from a business trip where I stayed up late one night reading the Bible that was in the nightstand. Or I should say, that I tried reading it. The translation was indecipherable, with all the “shall’s” and… More »
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