Parsha Q&A

For the week ending 24 May 2014 / 24 Iyyar 5774

Parshat Bamidbar

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Questions

  1. Why were the Jewish People counted so frequently?
  2. What documents did the people bring when they were counted?
  3. What determined the color of the tribal flags?
  4. What is the difference between an "ot" and a "degel"?
  5. How do we see that the Jews in the time of Moshe observed "techum Shabbat" - the prohibition against traveling more than 2,000 amot on Shabbat?
  6. What was the signal for the camp to travel?
  7. What was the sum total of the counting of the 12 tribes?
  8. Why are Aharon's sons called "sons of Aharon and Moshe"?
  9. Who was Nadav's oldest son?
  10. Which two people from the Book of Esther does Rashi mention in this week's Parsha?
  11. Why did the levi'im receive ma'aser rishon?
  12. Which groups of people were counted from the age of one month?
  13. Name the first descendant of Levi in history to be counted as an infant.
  14. Who assisted Moshe in counting the levi'im?
  15. Why did so many people from the tribe of Reuven support Korach in his campaign against Moshe?
  16. Why did so many people from the tribes of Yehuda, Yissachar and Zevulun become great Torah scholars?
  17. In verse 3:39 the Torah states that the total number of levi'im was 22,000. The actual number was 22,300. Why does the Torah seem to ignore 300 levi'im?
  18. The firstborn males of the Jewish People were redeemed for five shekalim. Why five shekalim?
  19. During what age-span is a man considered at his full strength?
  20. As the camp was readying itself for travel, who was in charge of covering the vessels of the Mishkan in preparation for transport?

Answers

All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated

  1. Why were the Jewish People counted so frequently?
    1:1 - They are very dear to G-d.
  2. What documents did the people bring when they were counted?
    1:18 - They brought birth records proving their tribal lineage.
  3. What determined the color of the tribal flags?
    2:2 - Each tribes flag was the color of that tribes stone in the breastplate of the kohen gadol.
  4. What is the difference between an "ot" and a "degel"?
    2:2 - An "ot" is a flag, i.e., a colored cloth that hangs from a flagpole. A degel is a flagpole.
  5. How do we see that the Jews in the time of Moshe observed "techum Shabbat" - the prohibition against traveling more than 2,000 amot on Shabbat?
    2:2 - G-d commanded them to camp no more than 2,000 amot from the Ohel Moed. Had they camped farther, it would have been forbidden for them to go to the Ohel Moed on Shabbat.
  6. What was the signal for the camp to travel?
    2:9 - The cloud over the Ohel Moed departed and the kohanim sounded the trumpets.
  7. What was the sum total of the counting of the 12 tribes?
    2:32 - 603,550.
  8. Why are Aharon's sons called "sons of Aharon and Moshe"?
    3:1 - Since Moshe taught them Torah, its as if he gave birth to them.
  9. Who was Nadav's oldest son?
    3:4 - Nadav had no children.
  10. Which two people from the Book of Esther does Rashi mention in this week's Parsha?
    3:7 - Bigtan and Teresh.
  11. Why did the levi'im receive ma'aser rishon?
    3:8 - Since the leviim served in the Mishkan in place of everyone else, they received tithes as "payment."
  12. Which groups of people were counted from the age of one month?
    3:15, 40 - The leviim, and the firstborn of Bnei Yisrae l.
  13. Name the first descendant of Levi in history to be counted as an infant.
    3:15 - Levis daughter Yocheved was born while the Jewish People were entering Egypt. She is counted as one of the 70 people who entered Egypt.
  14. Who assisted Moshe in counting the levi'im?
    3:16 G-d.
  15. Why did so many people from the tribe of Reuven support Korach in his campaign against Moshe?
    3:29 - The tribe of Reuven was encamped near Korach, and were therefore influenced for the worse. This teaches that one should avoid living near the wicked.
  16. Why did so many people from the tribes of Yehuda, Yissachar and Zevulun become great Torah scholars?
    3:38 - The tribes of Yehuda, Yissachar and Zevulun were encamped near Moshe, and were therefore influenced for the good. This teaches that one should seek to live near the righteous
  17. In verse 3:39 the Torah states that the total number of levi'im was 22,000. The actual number was 22,300. Why does the Torah seem to ignore 300 levi'im?
    3:39 - Each levi served to redeem a first-born of the Jewish People. Since 300 leviim were themselves firstborn, they themselves needed to be redeemed, and could therefore not redeem others.
  18. The firstborn males of the Jewish People were redeemed for five shekalim. Why five shekalim?
    3:46 - To atone for the sale of Yosef, Rachels firstborn, who was sold by his brothers for five shekalim (20 pieces of silver.)
  19. During what age-span is a man considered at his full strength?
    4:2 - Between the ages of 30 and 50.
  20. As the camp was readying itself for travel, who was in charge of covering the vessels of the Mishkan in preparation for transport?
    4:5 - The kohanim.

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