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Rashbam

On the Origins of Rashi’s Peshat Commentary

The shift in biblical exegesis from homiletic readings to literary, contextual commentaries has its roots in Charlemagne's 9th century Carolingian Revolution. It comes to the fore only in the 11th century with Rashi's quasi-peshat commentary, soon followed by the peshat approach of R. Joseph Kara and Rashbam.

Prof. Rabbi

Robert Harris

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Joseph Accuses His Brothers of Selling Him – But Did They?

When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, he says, “I am your brother, whom you sold into Egypt” (Gen 45:4). Tradition takes for granted that Joseph’s brothers were indeed the ones who sold him. However, as Rashbam and Shadal note, a straightforward peshat reading of events once Joseph is thrown into the pit reveals a different conclusion.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Does God Punish People Who Are Close to Him More Harshly?

A midrash on the phrase venikdash bikhevodi, “and it shall be sanctified by my glory” (Exod 29:43) suggests that God is unusually strict when He punishes those who are close to Him. Rashbam strenuously objected to this popular midrash.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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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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The Obscure Ephod of the High Priest

The Torah mentions the ephod as something the high priest would wear, but never describes it clearly, and neither do the Talmudic sages. Medieval scholars like Rashi and Rashbam use their creativity and analytical skill to try to tease this out from the biblical text.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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What Is Isaac Doing in the Field When He Encounters Rebecca?

The term לשוח is a hapax legomenon (a term that appears only once in the Bible). What does it mean?

Prof.

Aaron Demsky

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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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How God Was Sanctified through Nadav and Avihu's Death

After the shocking death of Nadav and Avihu, Moses says to Aaron that this is what God meant when he said, “through those near to me I will sanctify Myself.”  Rashi, Rashbam, and Nahmanides struggle to understand the meaning of Moses’ message.

Prof.

James A. Diamond

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Who Said All Is Futile?

The significance of Rashbam’s surprising observation about Kohelet for understanding introductions and conclusions to biblical books.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Is Holiness Contagious?

Impurity is transferred through physical contact. Theologically speaking, could the same be true for holiness?

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Eldad and Medad Prophesied in the Camp

Moses' control over prophecy is successfully challenged.

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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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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Why Isn't Sukkot in the Spring?

We sit in the sukkah to remind us that “I (God) made the Israelites live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:43). Accordingly, why isn’t Sukkot celebrated in the month of Nissan, when we left Egypt?

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Does the Torah Differentiate Between Murder and Killing?

What does the root רצח actually mean: to kill or to murder? A look at Rashbam’s attempted (and failed?) solution highlights the ethical ramifications of Bible translation.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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When God Punishes Israel: What Will the Gentiles Say?

In Avinu Malkeinu, we say, “Our Father, our King, act for us for the sake of Your name.” Is God still worried about His reputation? 

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Did an Aramean Try to Destroy our Father?

A medieval non-traditional interpretation of arami oved avi and the push-back against it. 

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Rabbi Samuel Ben Meir (Rashbam): A Short Bio

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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The Torah Is Not an Allegory

In a polemical response to Christian and Jewish allegorical interpretation of the Torah’s laws, Bekhor Shor writes that just as God speaks to Moses “clearly and without riddles” (Num 12:8), so too the Torah is clear and means what it says, and should not be interpreted allegorically.[1]

Prof. Rabbi

Shaye J. D. Cohen

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Whom May a Kohen Gadol Marry?

Rashbam’s New Peshat

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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