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Peshat and Halacha

Does the Torah Differentiate between an Unpaid and a Paid Bailee?

For the first nine hundred years after the writing of the Mishnah in the early third century, Jews thought that laws about bailees or custodians (שומרים) in the Mishnah and in the Talmud corresponded closely to the plain meaning (peshat) of the Torah. But in the Middle Ages, Rashbam challenged that assumption, proposing an understanding of the Torah that contradicted Jewish law.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Can a False Prophet Perform Miracles?

Deuteronomy 13 discusses the case of a false prophet who does not have a message from God, but advocates worshiping other gods. Oddly enough, the false prophet can successfully perform miracles, or is able to predict the future.  How is this possible?

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Can The Torah Contradict Halacha (Jewish Law)?

At stake is Ibn Ezra’s curse: “May your tongue stick to your palate… may your arm dry up and your right eye go blind.” 

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Peshat vs. Halakha Dilemma: Shadal and Tradition

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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The Prohibition of Shaving in the Torah and Halacha

The Torah prohibits a mourning ritual called tonsuring, i.e., the pulling out or cutting of hair to express sorrow. Rabbinic interpretation understood these verses as a prohibition for men to shave their beards or temples with a razor. Ibn Ezra, however, uncharacteristically rejects the rabbinic interpretation of these verses, and Shadal, who accepts ibn Ezra's reading, goes as far as to say that he himself shaves with a razor.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Paying Workers Immediately or Within Twelve Hours?

Leviticus 19:13 and Deuteronomy 24:14 insist that workers be paid without delay. The Talmud, however, interprets these two verses in a way that actually delays paying the workers. Rashbam and Ramban, reassert the peshat (plain meaning), thereby preserving the intent of the law.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Whom May a Kohen Gadol Marry?

Rashbam’s New Peshat

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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