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Parsha Questions



I ask my kids these questions at my shabbos table and we debate the answers until my kids get sick of it and scream at me that they hate my questions.



Updated: 2014-10-05T02:39:39.780+03:00

 



Naso: not getting out of hand

2007-05-26T22:34:46.836+03:00

Parshat Naso

This week's question:

The last section of the parsha goes through the donation of korbanot the nesiim gave at the dedication of the mishkan. All 12 gave the same exact donation.

Rashi tells us why the nesiim were so quick to be the first to participate with a donation at the dedication ceremony. he tells us that for the building of the mishkan the nesiim had said they would let the people give first and they would give whatever was lacking afterwards. It turned out the people gave so much there was nothing left for the mesiim to give. They were upset they missed the opportunity to participate, so now they jumped forward right away.

But why and how did they all give the same exact thing? This was not base don a commandment that they had to bring a specific korban, so how did all 12 individually think of the same exact korban?

I think they must have gotten together and decided what to bring. That way it would not "get out of hand".

Think of it similar to the "wedding takkanos" of Agudas Yisrael in America. Weddings were getting out of hand as each person needed to outdo the one before him. So Aguda made rules and now nobody should feel the need to outdo the other guy and spend beyond his means.

The same here. If they each would bring their own thing, the first guy would bring, let's say, one cow. The second guy would say,"That's all he brought? I will bring 2 cows." The next guy would then bring 5 cows and 2 sheep. The next would bring 10 cows and 15 sheep. etc.

It would get out of hand, so they agreed that they would each bring the same exact set of korbanos.

I did see a pshat that despite the fact that they each brought their own korbano, they were still brought with the individual style and "kavanos" of the specific tribe.



Naso: not getting out of hand

2007-05-26T22:34:40.475+03:00

Parshat Naso

This week's question:

The last section of the parsha goes through the donation of korbanot the nesiim gave at the dedication of the mishkan. All 12 gave the same exact donation.

Rashi tells us why the nesiim were so quick to be the first to participate with a donation at the dedication ceremony. he tells us that for the building of the mishkan the nesiim had said they would let the people give first and they would give whatever was lacking afterwards. It turned out the people gave so much there was nothing left for the mesiim to give. They were upset they missed the opportunity to participate, so now they jumped forward right away.

But why and how did they all give the same exact thing? This was not base don a commandment that they had to bring a specific korban, so how did all 12 individually think of the same exact korban?

I think they must have gotten together and decided what to bring. That way it would not "get out of hand".

Think of it similar to the "wedding takkanos" of Agudas Yisrael in America. Weddings were getting out of hand as each person needed to outdo the one before him. So Aguda made rules and now nobody should feel the need to outdo the other guy and spend beyond his means.

The same here. If they each would bring their own thing, the first guy would bring, let's say, one cow. The second guy would say,"That's all he brought? I will bring 2 cows." The next guy would then bring 5 cows and 2 sheep. The next would bring 10 cows and 15 sheep. etc.

It would get out of hand, so they agreed that they would each bring the same exact set of korbanos.

I did see a pshat that despite the fact that they each brought their own korbano, they were still brought with the individual style and "kavanos" of the specific tribe.



Bamidbar: Moshe's children

2007-05-19T21:10:36.899+03:00

Parshat Bamidbar

I have not posted my questions here in a while. I am going to try to get back to it...

This week's question was... during the lineage of the family of Levi, it says "These are the generations (children) of Aharon and Moshe..." and it goes on to list the children of Aharon, and not the children of Moshe.
Rashi tells us that we learn from the fact that it calls the children of Aharon as being also the children of Moshe that one who teaches someone else Torah, it is as if that person is his child. So the children of Aharon were also the children of Moshe, because Moshe taught them Torah.

That is very nice, but what about the actual children of Moshe? Why do they not get mentioned at all? It is listing the children of all the Levite families, so why not list Moshe's children as well?

We did not have an answer for this. I saw one answer about how Moshe's children had stayed behind with Yisro in Midian. I do nto remember why, but I did not like that answer, as they are still Moshe's children and should have been mentioned...



following instructions

2007-03-28T12:01:22.896+02:00

Parshat Tzav

In 8:36 it tells us that Aharon and his sons did as Hashem commanded through Moshe.

Rashi tells us that this tells us the praise of Aharon and sons that they did not divert at all from what Hashem told them to do. Everything was followed precisely.

Why does the Torah have to keep telling us this? This is exactly why they were the leaders rather than other people leading the nation - because they followed Hashem's instructions precisely without mixing in their own preferences.
The Torah keeps telling us how they followed precisely what Hashem said. Ok, we got the point already. Why keep telling us?



what would you do?

2007-03-08T12:55:56.579+02:00

Parshat Ki Tisa

This weeks question for the shabbos table might be:

When Aharion helped them create the golden calf, even though he tried to delay, did he do the right thing or should he have refused?

Had he refused they likely would have killed him, but maybe sometimes one needs to take a stand. Maybe if he was forceful enough he could have been persuasive and maybe they would not have killed him. Later when Moshe talks with him about it we see AHaron making excuses - you know how bad the people are, etc... - maybe he felt guilty and ashamed because he knows he should have refused?



wiping out Amalek

2007-03-04T00:33:04.005+02:00

Parshat T'Tzaveh

This weeks question at the shabbos table:

Are we supposed to remember Amalek or forget Amalek?

The Torah says remember Amalek and what they did but then says to wipe out memory of Amalek. Which is it? Wouldn't wiping out their memory be best accomplished by not talking about them?



relevant names

2007-02-18T11:16:44.124+02:00

Parshat Mishpatim

This week's shabbos table question on the parsha was (drum roll please..):

Near the end of the parsha the Torah starts talking about other types of laws than most of the parsha. It mentions shabbos, working 6 days and resting animals on 7th. Shemitta. The 3 main holidays. Then it gets into removing the seven nations from Eretz Yisrael.

When the Torah describes the three holidays, it does not call them by their main names, rather it calls them by alternative names. Hag Hamatzot, Hag Ha'Katzir, Hag Ha'Asif. Why? Why not call them by Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot?

My 10 year old son thought maybe the Torah wants to teach us these alternate names.

I thought that maybe here the Torah is not really explaining the actual holidays. As a matter of fact the context seems to have moved into concentration on the land and agriculture. It says about shabbos that 6 days work and on 7th not work, so the animals will rest. Shemitta so the field will rest, Hag Hamtzot (this one it actually describes a little), Hag Ha'Katzir to bring the new fruit, Hag Ha'Asif to gather the grains. Throw out the goyim from the Land of Israel. etc..

Being that the main focus here seems to be on the land rather than on the actual details of the various holidays, I suggested that that is the reason the Torah used these alternative names - these names referencing the agricultural aspect of the holidays are more relevant than the more well-known names, at this point.



human failings in Biblical figures

2007-02-04T09:58:27.748+02:00

Parshat Yisro

This weeks question at the shabbos table was:

The parsha starts off with the story of Yisro showing up to join Bnei Yisrael after having heard of the various miracles. He sees the method Moshe uses for judging the people and gives him advice how to improve. Moshe implements the suggested changes and then sends Yisro back home.

Why did Moshe send him home? Yisro came to join the Jewish Nation? Right before Har Sinai and Matan Torah, Moshe sends Yisro home?

The discussion first partially answered, by my 11 year old daughter, the question by saying this is story is not in chronological order and happened after Matan Torah. This is an opinion offered by some commentaries and answers how Moshe could have sent Yisro away before Matan Torah. According to this opinion he did not. It happened after Matan Torah.

But that only answers the question about the timeframe. The question of why he sent Yisro away still remains unanswered. Yisro came to join the Jews and Moshe sent him away?

The discussion of this centered on Moshe's relationship with Yisro. Yisro was his father in law. Yisro shows up and right away criticizes the way Moshe is doing things. He even does so using fairly harsh terms. He says, "what you are doing is not good" (18:17), then he gives him advice how to improve the method of judgement and starts off by saying, "Now listen to my voice as I advise you (18:19)". Then Yisro concludes by saying, "If you do all this, you will be ok (18:23)".

Then it says, "And Moshe did all that he said (18:24), etc.... And Moshe sent his father in law and he went back to his land (18:27)".

Maybe Moshe did not like the way his father in law came and right away started telling him what to do and how to do it, so he sent him away. He figured he would not be able to lead Israel properly with the tension of having his father in law around.

But this leads to the question of do we treat the Biblical figures as having similar emotions and failings that we have? Was Moshe so selfish that he could not bear to have his father in law around? He was so selfish that he sent him away? Was Yisro so haughty that he shows up and right away starts bossing people around?

Maybe. But if we prefer not to ascribe such human weaknesses to our Biblical figures then we need to find an alternative answer to explain what happened between Moshe and Yisro.



why the manna

2007-02-04T09:58:27.791+02:00

Parshat B'Shalah

This week's question at the shabbos table:

Why did Hashem have to give them the manna? Why not do something more nature based? We know Hashem always prefers to minimize the miracle aspect of what He does and tries to do things as "naturally" as possible, so why not regarding the manna? Hashem could have told them to start of by eating from the many animals they had with them, He coul dhave sent them kosher desert animals, we know they did not actually travel that much but stayed in some locations for long periods of time, so Hashem could have told them to plant crops and harvest and make bread and other food.

Why did He have to do it the tremendously miraculous way He did?

The answer given by all was basically to teach Bnei Yisrael a lesson of emunah so when they would go into Eretz Yisrael and have to "get back to normal" they would realize that even their human efforts are fueled by Hashem and they are successful or failures because of Hashem



why leave in the spring?

2007-01-28T09:51:19.092+02:00

Parshat Bo

The potential question for this weeks shabbos table discussion is:

At the end of the parsha this week Moshe tells the Jewish people that they should remember this day that they are leaving Egypt and not eat chametz, etc.. He then says in 13:4, "היום אתם יוצאים בחודש האביב" - This day you are leaving in the month of the spring.

Rashi points out that we already know when they are leaving, so why does it need to be siad specifically in this fashion?

Rashi explains that it is telling us the great chessed that Hashem did for them that He took the nation out in the spring when the weather is pleasant, rather than in hot or cold weather when it would have been less pleasant.

My question is, why is this such a big chessed - we know the Jews were encircled and protected by the ananei hakavod - the clouds of glory - and they were a form of climate control. We know they were not affected by the weather and elements because of the clouds. So who cares what the weather was like when they left?

My initial thoughts are that while it is true that when they left Egypt they were not affected by the weather, however they did not know that would be the case. They knew they were about to leave Egypt and maybe they were nervous that they were running out in the heat or cold. So Moshe, to allay their concerns told them that Hashem scheduled it as a chessed that they are leaving in pleasant weather. Even though the facts are that it would not matter later. It was to calm their fears.

Answer: I still think there might be something to the above answer I suggested, I now have a better answer. My 7 year old son gave me an answer that I think is correct.

I asked the question at the shabbos table and he answered right away.The ananei hakavod were only put into place when bnei yisroel travelled from Sukkos, which at the beginning of parshat B'Shalach we see was on the second day after having left Egypt. The first day they travelled from Ra'amses to Sukkos and did not yet have the clouds of glory or the pillars of fire.

That being the case, they needed the good weather for that cloudless day.



Why all the threats

2007-01-17T15:42:55.691+02:00

Parshat Va'eira

I am not sure yet, but I think I already have this weeks possible question. Let me know what you think and possible answers.... Here goes..

Hashem told Moshe he would be hardening Pharoahs heart and make Pharoah refuse to let the Jews leave. If Moshe knew that in advance, and he had the experience of seeing Pharoah agree to let them go and then reverse his decision (as happened a couple of times), why did he go through the charades?

Throughout the plagues Moshe approaches Pharoah and demands the right to leave. He uses it as a threat and ultimatum.. Why does he press the point so much? He knows Pharoah is not in control and cannot let them go. So just give it a mention, but why all the threats?



How old was Moshe?

2007-01-14T16:17:16.862+02:00

Parshat Shmos

This weeks shabbos table question was about Moshe growing up. I began: Moshe was born and as a baby was hidden for 3 months and then placed in a basket/ark in the Nile River. Batya, the daughter of Pharoah found him and "rescued" him.

The child would not eat from Batya's wetnurses, so she was given to Miriam and Yocheved to take care of. Eventually they had to return the child to Batya. The Passuk does not say how old the child was when returned, and that might be the source of the answer to the question.

We are then told that Moshe grew up in the palace of Pharoah. At some point, he went outside to see "his brothers". Rashi says he went out to see how his brothers the Jews were doing. He saw an Egyptian fighting with a Jew and Moshe interceded and slaid the Egyptian.

My question is, how did Moshe know to go see his brothers the Jews, and why would he defend the Jew against the Egyptian? He was raised as an Egyptian prince in the palace of Pharoah, not as a Jew. He should have had more powerful feelings for his Egyptian identity than his Jewish one, if he even knew he was Jewish at that point.

It probably depends on how old Moshe was when Miriam/Yocheved returned him to Batya.

On the one hand, Moshe was probably returned to Batya right when he passed the stage of needing a wetnurse. Meaning, he was probably somewhere in the range of 2 years old. Maybe 3. Maybe 1. But somewhere between 1 and 3. If that is the case, he would not have known he was Jewish or would hardly have known, so the question is strong.

On the other hand, maybe his return was delayed a bit. Maybe they kept him in their care a bit longer and had the opportunity to teach him about his heritage before they had to return him. If that is the case, the question is weaker. He would have known at least a little bit about being Jewish and what was happening to his people. He could have been curious so he went out to see what was really happening to them and then came upon an Egyptian beating to death the Jew so he defended him.

My 7 year old son thought that Yocheved and Miriam probably had a chance to tell Moshe who he was and that would answer the question. It seems to make more sense in the context of the Parsha.



did he ever find out

2007-01-07T00:51:36.108+02:00

Parshat Vaichi

Did Yaakov ever find out what his children had done to Yosef?

On the one hand when Yaakov dies the borthers tell Yosef that their father insisted Yosef not take revenge on them and harm them. That indicates he knew what they had done and was considered he would take the opportunity of his death to avenge the old fight.

On the other hand, if he knew, why did he not censure them (all the kids) when he gave the brachos, like he censured Shimon and Levi for their actions against Shchem and Chamor? So maybe he did not know.

But if he did not know, when all of the sudden Yosef show up as Prime Minister of Egypt, was he not curious where Yosef had been and what had happened to him for the past 22 years and how and why he disappeared? He must have asked some questions - how did they all answer those questions?