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 »
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 »
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Adam & Eve

Judaism and Snakes - I have always had the impression that snakes are inherently evil. I’m sure it’s an idea I picked up from the Genesis account of the Serpent tempting Adam and Eve to sin. Is there any accuracy to this? In... 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... 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 to... 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 »
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 world... 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 »
Concubinage; Abraham’s Marriage to Hagar - There is one detail of the story of Abraham and Sarah which was never clear to me. Sarah was unable to conceive, and so Abraham took her handmaid Hagar instead (Genesis 16). How was it permissible to... 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 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’s Incomplete Name Change - I noticed something very curious. Abraham’s name was changed from Abram to Abraham (Genesis 17:5) and that’s how he became permanently known. Likewise Sarai became Sarah (17:15). But God changed Jacob’s... More »
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 »
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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 »
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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

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... 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... More »
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 »
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Sinai & Ten Commandments

Children Punished for Sins of Parents - How do we understand verses such as Exodus 20:5 (in the Ten Commandments) that God punishes not only sinners, but their descendants till four generations? How is it possibly fair to punish children for... More »
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 »
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Tabernacle

Anointing and “The Anointed One” (Messiah) - When was anointing done in Biblical times? Is it still practiced today? More »
The Cherubim Versus Idols - What exactly were the Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant? It seems strange to me that they were part of the Tabernacle and Temple. Aren’t they basically a form of idol? 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

Ascent to Jerusalem for the Three Festivals (Aliyah L’Regel) - When the Temple stood, all males had to appear before the Lord for the three festivals (Exodus 23:14-17, 34:23-24, Deuteronomy 16:16). At what age did they have to come – at 13? 30? Also, did they have to... 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 »
Redemption of Firstborn Donkey - Why was the donkey the only non-kosher animal whose firstborn required redemption? 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... 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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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 »
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 »
Temple Service - Two Little Goats - I’ve always been puzzled: What is the significance of the casting lots on two identical goats during the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple? 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 »
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 »
The Spies’ Rebellion - I was reading in Numbers chapter 13 how the Jewish people arrive at the border of the Land of Israel. They send prominent men from each tribe as spies, to explore how best to conquer the land. The spies... 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 »
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 »
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... 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 »
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 same meal? The... More »
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