Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Parshas Vayera 5776

Who Were the Three Visitors to Abraham?

The Torah writes (Genesis 18:1-2):
And the LORD appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed down to the earth,
Rashi (ibid) learns they were angels:
One to inform Sarah, and one to turn over Sodom, and one to heal Abraham for one angel cannot do two missions
Kitzur Baal HaTurim (ibid) states their names:
"and behold three" - in gematria of "these were Michael, Gabriel and Rephoel"
Yalkut Reuveni (ibid) cites another opinion as to their names:
Rephoel, Uriel and Gabriel
However, the Ralbag (ibid) learns that they were not angels but human beings:
He already raised his eyes before and saw three men and they were prophets  ... and they are called angels in regards to Lot for a prophet is called an angel like we explained regarding the story of Hagar the Egyptian. But in regards to Abraham they were called men for they were not sent to Abraham for he himself was a prophet
Ibn Ezra (Genesis 18:10) explains further:
And other commentators explain that these were three real men - who were prophets. If so, wasn't Abraham a prophet himself and why does a prophet come to another prophet unless he is greater like Moses and Aaron? And the answer is that they did not come to Abraham but for Sarah.
[see also Abarbanel's discussion of both opinions]

[see also a possible third opinion cited by the Ibn Ezra (ibid) and Sefer Mehokei Yehuda (ibid) explaining it]

When Did Milcah Have Children?

The Torah writes (Genesis 22:20):
And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying: ‘Behold, Milcah, she also hath borne children unto thy brother Nahor
The Ramban (ibid) explains that she had children only after Sarah did:
And from the language of the Torah it seems that Abraham did not about them until today, and if she had children in her younger years it would be impossible that he did not hear about them until today, for the distance between Aram Naharim and Eretz Canaan is not great. Also, Abraham was 75 when he left and also Nahor, his brother, was old and his wife was not young. But, G-d made a miracle for them by giving her children in her old age, and that is the reason for "Milcah also", and our Sages learn that she was remembered like her sister [Sarah]
[see also Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (ibid) and Radak (Genesis 11:26) learns similarly]

Sforno (ibid) is not bothered by this question, and learns that she had children before:
We know already that Milkah bore children; now the point is to tell us that Betuel fathered Rivkah
HaEmek Davar (ibid) that she had children before but Abraham wasn't allowed to inquire about them:
When G-d told him "go from your land, your birthplace and the house of your father", included in that was a requirement to remove his mind from his father's house, and it was forbidden for him to mention them. But now that he elevated himself to a higher level and made it possible to attach himself to G-d, and there was no longer a possibility that he would return to his family, it was permitted for him to find out about them, and therefore [the news] were told to him
The Radak (ibid) learns that she had children before and now she had more:
It would appear that Milkah had stopped bearing children for a while already, but she had not been barren as had Sarah. Therefore Avraham was given the news that more children had been born for Nachor by his wife Milkah.

The Righteousness of the Daughters of Lot

Famous story with Rabbi Moshe Feinstein related to the daughters of Lot - can be found in introduction to Igros Moshe, volume 8, pp. 15.
[Published at / Comments welcome to]

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Parshas Lech Lecho 5776

Moreh and Mamre

The Torah writes (Genesis 12:6):
And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the terebinth of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land
The Radak (ibid) explains that this belonged to Moreh:
מורה, according to Onkelos this is the name of an individual, just as כנעני. אלון is the name of a plain, this plain bearing the name of a man known as מורה.
The Ibn Ezra (ibid) writes that this could have been Mamre:
Some says that this is Mamre, a member of the covenant of Abraham. However, it would be more logical that this was a name of place
The problem bothering Ibn Ezra is clear from what the Torah writes (Genesis 13:18), placing Mamre in Hebron (see also Ramban and Shadal on Genesis 12:16):
And Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.
The Ramban (Genesis 12:6) disagrees:
And you should know that all places where it says "Elonei Mamre", the name "Mamre" refers to an Emorite who owned this place ... all "Alon Moreh" and "Elonei Moreh" are a place called after the name of a man named Moreh
(see also Shadal ibid)

Nimrod and Amraphel

The Torah writes (Genesis 14:1):
And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim,
Rashi (ibid) explains:
Amraphel - that is Nimrod who told Abraham to fall into a fiery oven ("אמר פל")
(see also Targum Pseudo-Jonathan ibid)

Rashi's source is the Talmud (Erubin 53a):
Rav and Shmuel disagree. One is of opinion that Nimrod was his real name, and he was called Amraphel because he told Abraham our father to fall into a fiery oven. The other is of the opinion that Amraphel was his real name, and he was called Nimrod because he caused the entire world to rebel [against G-d] through his kingdom
The Mizrachi (ibid) cites another proof connecting Amraphel and Nimrod:

For it says "the beginning of his kingdom was Babel in the land of Shinar" and here it says "and it was in the days of Amraphel, king of Shinar"
The Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 41:4) writes that he had three names:
He had three names: Cush, Numrod and Amraphel
He was killed by Abraham (Genesis 14:17):
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, at the vale of Shaveh—the same is the King’s Vale.
Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer (24) disagrees and writes that Esau killed him:
Rabbi said: Esau the brother of Jacob saw the garments that G-d made for Adam and Eve while Nimrod was wearing them, and he wanted them in his heart. He killed Nimrod and took them from him.
(see our earlier post citing opinions that Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, was actually the son of Nimrod; or that he was the servant of Nimrod and also Og)

(see also Sefer Mayim Rabim, pp. 94 for a more extensive discussion on Nimrod)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Parshas Noach 5776

Who Was Noah's Wife?

The Torah writes (Genesis 7:7):
And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, before the waters of the flood
The Torah writes (Genesis 4:22):
And Zillah, she also bore Tubal-cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron; and the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah
Rashi (ibid) writes:
Naamah - she was the wife of Noah
Rashi's source is Genesis Rabbah (23:3):
"And the sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah" - Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: Naamah was the wife of Noah .... and the Rabbis said: this was a different Naamah (not Noah's wife) ...
(see also Ramban ibid)

Sefer HaYashar (ibid) cites a different opinion:
 ... And Noah went and choose a wife, and he choose Naamah the daughter of Enoch and she was 580 years old...
Sefer Lemekasei Atik (ibid) cites other opinions:
And some say from children of Barakiel, and some say Amora daughter of Barakiel
Seder HaDoros cites more opinions:
... and his wife's name was Tutzia, and some say Artzia from the language of Eretz for she was the mother of all living ... and she went up to heaven...
(see also Sefer Mayim Rabim, pp. 36)

The Children of Noah

The Torah writes (Genesis 6:10):
And Noah begot three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth
Seder HaDoros writes that Noah had more children:
Some say that Noah had a fourth son born after the Flood and his name was Yenuka and he was a great sage
Baalei Tosfos (Moshav Zekeinim, end of Chukas) writes that Sihon was also the son of Noah:
Noah's wife died before the Flood, and Noah married the mother of Og. Og was already born when her first husband was alive, and she married Noah once Og's father died. And she conceived Sihon from Noah before the flood and he was born in the Ark
(see also the second answer given by Baalei Tosfos that Sihon was the son of Noah's wife, but not Noah's son)

This would also make Noah the step-father of Og (also see our earlier post)

(see also Sefer Mayim Rabim, pp. 56

Tower of Babel as Spaceship

Josh Waxman has an extensive discussion of sources regarding whether Tower of Babel was a spaceship or spaceship-like entity

[Published at / Comments welcome to]

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Parshas Bereishis 5776

The Many Wives of Adam

The Torah writes (Genesis 3:20):
And the man called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living
Tosfos haShalem (ibid) says that her name was changed:
The Kabbalists says that before they sinner her name was Choya and after they sinned it was Chava
Midrash Rabbah (Genesis Rabbah 18:4) cites an opinion that Adam had another wife before:
"And Adam said: this time" - Rabbi Yehudah bar Rebbi said: in the beginning he created her and showed her [to Adam] full of blood and he was repulsed by her. He turned back and created her for a second time.
Similar Midrash Rabbah (Genesis Rabbah 22:7):
"And Cain spoke to Abel" Over what were they arguing? ... Yehuda bar Ami said: they were arguing over the First Eve [i.e. Adam's first wife]. Rabbi Ivu said: First Eve was turned back to dust.
(see also Yalkut Reuveini on Genesis 2:21)

Tosfos haShalem (Genesis 2:23) cites her name (see also Ibn Ezra ibid):
"This time" - this teaches us that another one was created with him and her name was Lilith
Rashi (Isaiah 34:14) says about this name:
Lilith - this is a name of a demon
(see also Metzudat Zion [ibid] naming her as the mother of demons)

When Did Cain Die?

The Torah writes (Genesis 4:23-24):
And Lamech said unto his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech; For I have slain a man for wounding me, And a young man for bruising me; If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.
Rashi explains (ibid, based on Midrash Tanchuma):
For they separated from him because he killed Cain and his son Tubal-Cain, for Lamech was blind and Tuval-Cain used to lead him. He saw Cain and thought he was an animal, and told his father to shoot him with his bow and he killed him. When it became known that it was Cain, his ancestor, he struck his palms together and killed his son between them, and his wives separated from him and he was trying to pacify them.
Midrash Rabbah (Genesis 32:8 and Exodus 31) writes that he lived until the Flood:
And he had many years for he was like Adam [his father], and greater were the days of his live for his live lasted past his father's for 1,626 years ... and he had no burial for the Flood came and washed him away
Matnas Kehunah (Genesis ibid) cites a variant reading that Cain held on to the door of the Ark until the Flood washed him away

Methuselah's Name

The Torah writes (Genesis 5:21):
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begot Methuselah
Torah Sheleimah (ibid) cites a Midrash explaining his name:
Why was he called Methuselah? For the Name of G-d was carved on his sword and he killed many demons without count
As explained in the comments - "מתו שלח" - "his sword kills"

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Parshas Zos HaBracha 5776

Who is the King in Jeshurun?

The Torah writes (Deutoronomy 33:5):
And there was a king in Jeshurun, When the heads of the people were gathered, All the tribes of Israel together.
Rashi (ibid) learns this is G-d (based on Talmud Rosh Hashanah 32b):
And He was: i.e., the Holy One, blessed is He
The Zohar (as cited in Sefer Shaarei Aharon), says this refers to the Messiah

Midrash Rabbah (Shemos Rabbah, end of chapter 2) learns this is Moses:
Nevertheless, Moses was privileged to both [Priesthood and Kingship] ... Kingship for it is written: "And there was a king in Jeshurun"
(see also Ibn Ezra on Genesis 36:31, and Rambam on Mishnah Shevuot 2:2)

Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (ibid) learns that this refers to future Jewish kings

Where was Moses Buried?

The Torah writes (Deutoronomy 34:6):
And he was buried in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth-peor; and no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
According to the Mishnah (Avoth 5:6), his burial place was created before hand:
Ten things were created on the eve of the [first] Sabbath at twilight ... And some say: Also the destructive spirits, And the burial place of Moses, our teacher, And the ram of Abraham, our father.
(see also Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer 19:1 and Talmud Pesachim 64a)

Josh Waxman's parsha blog cites the Chizkuni (ibid):
Three identifiers were provided about the place of Moses's burial:
   1. It says - "in a valley".
   2. This valley is in "the land of Moab".
   3. And this place is opposite "Beth-peor".
And with all of these, no one knows his place which teaches us that he was not buried by humans
Josh Waxman also cites Rabbi Elazar miGirmiza (ibid):
There are 5 couples buried in the Cave [of Machpelah] - 3 are known and 2 are hidden. The known ones are Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. The hidden ones are Adam and Chava, and Moses and Tziporah.
[Published at]