Creation

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... More »
Creation & The Big Bang - I have trouble reconciling my reading of Genesis with current scientific theory. When I read the beginning of creation, is seems clear that God created the world complete, as well as the rest of the... More »
Significance of Hebrew Year - I know the Hebrew calendar year is counted from Rosh Hashanah, and the current year is 5778. But what is that measuring – the years since the world’s creation? 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 »
Eve's Creation: Rib or Side? - Exactly what was Eve created from? I always assumed it was one of Adam’s ribs, but I just noticed a translation which said “side.” So which is right? By the way, if Eve was created from a rib God... 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... 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 »
Noah's Ark - There are obviously many ways by which God could have saved Noah. Why did Noah have to bother building an ark? And why did it take him 120 years? More »
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Abraham

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... More »
Abraham – the First Jew - Why is Abraham considered the first Jew? More »
Abraham: Discovering God at Three - I had always heard that Abraham recognized God when he was three years old. Was that really the case? How much could a three-year-old possibly understand about the world? 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 »
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... More »
Jacob Steals the Blessings - I have a coworker who can’t accept how Jacob could have stolen Esau’s blessings from his father Isaac. How could he have been so dishonest as to trick his father? And further, since the blessings were... 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... More »
Isaac & Finding the Perfect Partner - I’m 30 years old and finding that most of my friends who have gotten married are soon after divorced. I would like to get married but am afraid of marrying the wrong person. Any guidelines to suggest? ... More »

Moses

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 »
Great Teshuva - My friend and I are having a disagreement about degrees of righteousness in God's eyes. Who is greater: One who is virtuous by inclination, or one who is virtuous by choice - i.e. one who must struggle... More »
Moses: No Entry into Israel - Deuteronomy 3:23 speaks about Moses imploring, begging and pleading with God to allow him to enter the Land of Israel. But God says “no.” Why can't Moses go with the people into the Land of Israel? ... More »
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Slavery, Plagues, Exodus

End of Slavery in Egypt - I’m trying to figure out the timeline of the Exodus. I know that our ancestors left Egypt on the first day of Passover, but at what point did the slavery end? Did it last until the very last day, after... More »
How Miraculous was the Splitting of the Sea? - I was just reading a lecture about the Exodus. It described how Nachshon son of Aminadav was the first to jump into the sea. When he got to the point that the water reached his nostrils, it miraculously... More »
Plague of Blood – Magician’s Imitation - The Torah states that after God turned the water to blood, the Egyptian magicians performed the same feat. But doesn’t the Torah state explicitly that all the water of the kingdom was turned to blood... More »
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Sinai

Down-to-Earth Spirituality - I am perplexed about a certain juxtaposition in the Torah. Parshas Yisro describes the dramatic revelation of God to the Jewish People at Mount Sinai. And then the next parsha, Mishpatim, lists mundane... More »
Golden Calf - If the Jews had just witnessed God's awesome power in the 10 Plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, and the revelation at Mount Sinai, how could these same people turn around and worship a Golden Calf?!... More »
Golden Calf - Moses Stands Up - Why did the Jews worship the Golden Calf? More »
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Tabernacle

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... 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 »
The Purpose of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) - I’ve heard that the Mishkan (Tabernacle) served as an atonement for the Sin of the Golden Calf. But if so, why is it commanded in Exodus before the story of the Golden Calf? It seems like they were going... More »
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Book of Exodus – Other

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... 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... More »
Three Pilgrimage Festivals - The Bible speaks about the entire Jewish nation going to Jerusalem for the three pilgrimage festivals. Is that still practiced today? More »
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Book of Leviticus

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 »
Sons of Aaron - Do it "My Way" - Why are there so many rules in Judaism? Can’t I just “do it my way?” More »
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Offerings & Priests (Kohanim)

Kohen Higher Status - My mother is Jewish and my father is not. I have been told that I am 100% Jewish, yet at the same time I may not marry a Kohen. It bothers me that I am penalized for something I have no control over. What... More »
Kohen Marriages - I am a Reform Jew and am now looking to get married. I went to a few Jewish dating sites, and I saw some profiles which say "permitted to a Kohen." I am a Kohen, and therefore this caught my... 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... 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... More »
Jewish Census - "Members of the Tribe" - Immediately after giving the Ten Commandments, God tells the Jewish people to organize themselves by tribe and take a census. (That's why the fourth book of the Bible is called "Numbers.") Isn't living... More »
Samson – Contact with Dead - I’m trying to understand something. Shimshon (Samson) was a nazir (Nazarite), which is why he didn’t cut his hair or drink wine. But isn’t one of the restrictions of a Nazarite not to come in contact with... More »
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Book of Deuteronomy

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... 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 »
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... 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... More »
Cruelty of Capital Punishment - I have heard people claim that the death penalty of the Torah was barbaric, and man has progressed since that time, which is why it is no longer done. It doesn’t sound right to me that laws of the Torah... More »
Double Torah Portion - I enjoy attending synagogue every Shabbat morning. When it comes to the weekly Torah reading, sometimes we read two parshas. Why is that? More »
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