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48 The names of TWO sets of Grandfather - Grandson are mentioned in the weekday Shemoneh Esrei. Who are they? The names of the two sets of Grandfathers/Grandsons mentioned in the weekday Shmoneh Esrei are:
  1. Avraham and Yaakov-in the 1st bracha, and
  2. Adam and Enosh-in the 4th bracha ("Ata Chonen").

While one can easily see the names in the 1st bracha, it is more difficult in the 4th. This is because the prayer does not actually refer to the people Adam and Enosh - rather these are two synonyms for "human beings." The Malbim explains that Enosh refers to Man in his basic state and Adam is Man at a higher spitual level.

We received two interesting responses to this riddle. The first was submitted by our former talmid, R. Yaakov Menken, who now heads the Project Genesis On-Line Jewish Learning Network ( He answered this riddle and posed the next one.

Mike Marmor of Thornhill, Canada also answered the riddle, and then threw in a third pair: Oved and David Hamelech. "David is mentioned in several places. Oved is mentioned in velamalshinim phonetically only: 'v'chol harish'a k'rega t'oved.' This concealment is characteristic of the lineage of the Moshiach."

49 R. Yaakov Menken, who now heads the Project Genesis On-Line Jewish Learning Network ( and posed the following riddle:

There are four names listed consecutively in the morning Shmoneh Esrei with only one vav (instead of 3) separating them. What are they?

The answer we expected was [in Sim Shalom]: "Sim Shalom Tova u'Vracha [Bracha] -- I know someone named Sim (and it's not Sy Syms).

However, the person who sent us the riddle actually meant that "all of the names are separated with a vav," and intended an answer that is also in Sim Shalom but further on: Bracha v'Rachamim v'Chaim v'Shalom."

Haim Roman of Jerusalem College of Technology E-mailed us an unexpected and brilliant answer: "In the Bircat Avot [first bracha of the Shmoneh Esrei] -- HaE-l HaGadol HaGibor v'HaNora" which are four of the [descriptive] Names of Hashem.

Look for a new riddle next week!

51 Raphael Adams poses the following riddle:

Which four berachot are said exactly once every year?

Hint: "Al mikrah megilah" is incorrect because it is said at night and in the morning. "Al achilat matzah" is said two nights in a row outside of Israel.

Jeremy L. Rose from Communication Systems Limited sent us the correct answers:

  1. Seeing the first blossoms in the spring (OC 226:1, AS 228).
  2. Bedikat chametz (said the night before Passover) (OC 432:1, AS 654).
  3. The special bracha of "Nachem" during the Mincha Amida of Tisha B'Av (OC 557:1, AS 240).
  4. Lighting candles on erev Yom Kippur (OC 610:2, AS 296).

OC = Section in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim

AS = Page # in The Complete ArtScroll Siddur where bracha appears

53 Where in the prayers do you find four different, consecutive words that all have the same root? (Hint: It's not said every day.)

Submitted by Mike Turniansky

The answer was sent in by Rabbi Yitzchak Tzvi Freeman, an instructor at the Jewish Free School of London, England:

In Nishmat Kol Chai of the Shabbat davening, it reads M'Alef Elef Alfei Alafim - of the thousand thousand, thousands of thousands... (p. 402 in the ArtScroll Siddur).

55 Eric Horowitz sent in the following riddle:

The Torah in Parshat Terumah speaks of the components and vessels of the Mishkan/Tabernacle. Three of the items are spelled with the same letters, just in different orders. What are these items?

  • Kapporet (25:17, the Ark's cover)
  • Kaphtor (25:33, the ornamental spheres of the Menorah)
  • Parochet (26:31, the curtain covering the innermost part of the Sanctuary).

Which Mitzvah only applies to someone who is sitting, reclining or lying down?

Standing up in honor of a Torah Scholar or an elderly person (Lifnei Seivah Takum V'hadarta P'nei Zakein...You shall rise before an elderly person, and honor the presence of a sage. Leviticus 19:32)

Explanation: If a person is already standing when a elderly person enters the room he should remain standing, and not sit down in order to stand up. The mitzvah of eating matzah on the first night(s) of Pesach, applies even to one who is standing - i.e., the person should sit, recline and then eat the matzah.

59 Which mitzvah comes only as a result of lack of intent on the part of the doer or someone acting on his behalf?

Hint: The answer is not the mitzvah of returning a lost object, since the mitzvah comes about for the finder as a result of lack of intent of a different person, i.e., the loser;

Also, the answer is not the mitzvah of bringing a Chatat - sin-offering - e.g., as atonement for an "unintentional" transgression of Shabbat, since the person did intend to do the action, although forgot that the action was forbidden on Shabbat, or forgot that the day was Shabbat.

The mitzvot of "Shichecha"-- the forgotten bundle left for the poor, and "Leket" -- the stalks dropped by accident and left for the poor.

These mitzvot occur only when someone or his worker forgets one or two bundles of produce in the field; or when he or his worker drops a stalk or two of grain while harvesting his field. In such a case it is a mitzvah for him to leave them for poor people. If he intentionally "forgets" a bundle and leaves it for the poor, he fulfills a different mitzvah -- the mitzvah of Charity. But the mitzvah of "Shichecha" can only be fulfilled by unintentionally forgetting a bundle.


  • Rambam, Hilchot Matnot Aniyim 4:1, 5:1.

Yossi Klein from Har Nof, Israel posed this riddle:

Which 3 people mentioned in the Torah said "Baruch Hashem?"

Noach, Eliezar the servant of Avraham, and Yitro (Bereshit 9:26, 24:27, Shmot 18:10). Lavan said B'ruch Hashem (with a Shvah), meaning Blessed of Hashem (Bereshit 24:31). Avimelech and Phichol also said B'ruch Hashem in Bereshit 26:29. Stephen Phillips ( sent in the above correct answer.

Aside from Channuka and Chol HaMoed, when is the Torah read 5 days in a row?

When the first day of Rosh Hashanah occurs on Thursday. The Torah is read the first and second day of Rosh Hashanah, and then on Shabbos. Sunday is "The Fast of Gedaliah," followed by the regular Torah reading on Monday!
68 Moshe Schwartz from Costa Rica posed this riddle:

In the Shabbat prayers we say that Hashem called Shabbat "Chemdat Yamim" - "Most coveted of days." (ArtScroll Siddur Page 468/9).

Where in the Torah is Shabbat called "Chemdat Yamim?"

The Torah says "Vayechal Elokim Bayom HaShvi'i - And G≠d finished [Creation] on the seventh day." The Targum Yerushalmi translates the word Vayechal to mean "He desired," as in the verse "Kaltah Nafshi (Tehillim 84:3)."


  • Musaf Rashi, Bereshit 2:2.

I'm too young to be Parve. Who am I?

I am an undeveloped chicken egg. According to Rabbinic law, chicken is considered "meat" and cannot be cooked or eaten with milk. An undeveloped egg inside a chicken is considered part of the chicken. Later, when the egg develops, it is considered a separate entity, even though it is still inside the chicken - and is Parve, meaning that it can be cooked with either milk or meat.


  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 87:5.

In what situation is it a mitzvah to eat, but you may eat only foods that are Parve?

At "Malave Malke" during the "Nine Days," after having eaten meat.

The 9 day period from Rosh Chodesh Av until the Tenth of Av is one of mourning for the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, during which we refrain from eating meat and drinking wine. On Shabbat, however, eating meat is allowed. After eating meat, one must wait a period of time before eating dairy. Therefore, someone who ate meat near the end of Shabbat can't eat dairy for a period thereafter; but during the "Nine Days" he can't eat meat either. So the situation could arise where you are eating Malava Malka - "the fourth meal of Shabbat" - which is a mitzvah, and you are only able to eat foods that are Parve. [There is a dispute amongst the Poskim whether meat left over from Shabbat may be eaten at a Malaveh Malka during the "Nine Days." I asked Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, about this matter, and he said it's better to be strict.]

May we soon merit to see the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash!


  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 551:9.
  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 89:1.
  • Shmirat Shabbat K'Hilchata, Vol. 2 63:10.

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One day every year, a Halacha of Shabbat is different than the rest of the year. What day is it?

(Hint: the answer pertains to the prohibition of "Hotza'ah" - transfering objects between public and private domains, or carrying within a public domain.)

The Shabbat during Sukkot. On Shabbat it is forbidden to carry from a "private domain" to a "public domain." Usually, a private domain must have at least three walls. On the Shabbat of Sukkot, however, a private domain can have less. Why? A Sukka is valid with as few as two walls, plus a post as the third wall. Since such a structure is a valid Sukka, therefore, it's also considered a private domain.

This is the ruling of the Tur (Orach Chaim 630). However, the Beit Yosef quotes the dissenting opinion of the Rif. The Chayei Adam (146:3) rules that one may rely on the Tur only in extenuating circumstances.)

79 <> sent us the following:

You take two edible items, where item #1 is forbidden to cook and eat, and item #2 is permitted - put them together, wait, and after a while, item #1 is permitted to cook and eat, and item #2 is forbidden!

What are the items?

Lawrence Myers sent in the first response: Meat and salt. Raw meat is forbidden to cook and eat because of the blood it contains, and salt of course is permitted. But, put the two together, and the salt draws out the blood. Now the meat may be cooked and eaten, while the salt becomes not kosher.


  • Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 67:2, 69:11.
81 Some people once found a discarded, yet complete, Torah Scroll and wondered whether it was Kosher or not. If it was written by a competent, certified scribe it would be Kosher, but if by someone else, it would not be Kosher. They posed their question to the renowned Noda B'Yehuda, Rabbi Yechezkel Landau. His ingenious answer was simply "Minhag Yisrael Torah Hi" (which literally means "Jewish custom has the status of Torah").

What did he mean?

(Hint: There is a widespread Jewish custom concerning the writing of a Torah scroll that could indicate whether or not the scroll had been duly commissioned by a Jewish community.)

First sent in by Moshe Davis:

It is a widespread Jewish custom that the scribe omit the last few letters from the Torah scroll, and at the completion ceremony allow several people the privilege of writing them. Therefore, by looking at the final letters of the Torah, it should be evident whether or not they were written by one person or several. If they were written by several people - evidence of Minhag Yisrael (Jewish custom) - then Torah Hi - it is a valid Torah scroll!

83 "B'yomo titen scharo" - "pay him on that day" - is the Torah command to pay your worker on time (Deut. 24:15). For example, a day-worker (whose work period ends with the onset of night) must be paid sometime during that night, whereas a night-worker must be paid during the following daylight hours. Is this one of the "time bound" mitzvot - like Sukka and Tefillin - from which women are exempt? If not, why not? Paying a worker on time is not considered a "time-bound" mitzvah. Here are 2 explanations:
  • Sukka and Tefillin are 'mitzvot asei sh'hazman gramma' - 'positive mitzvot which the time initiates': You go into the Sukka because it's the 15th of Tishrei; you put on Tefillin because it's daytime. The mitzvah to pay your worker, on the other hand, is not time-initiated.' Rather, you chose when to hire the worker, an act independent of any time frame. (First sent in by Yoel Polsky)

True, each time the mitzvah is performed, it is performed during a specific 12-hour period. But the mitzvah in general applies any time of day or night. (Rabbi Mordecai Isbee, shlita)

85 Caterers get a vacation during the 'Counting of the Omer' and the days leading up to Tisha B'Av - times when there are no weddings. When do they take an entire month vacation from:

1) Bar Mitzvahs (but not Bat Mitzvahs)?

2) Bat Mitzvahs (but not Bar Mitzvahs)?

3) Bar and Bat Mitzvahs?

(first sent in by Joel Eisenman) In the Jewish Calendar, a 'leap year' has an added month - Adar II. Someone born in Adar of a regular (non-leap) year, celebrates his birthday in Adar II during a 'leap year.' Therefore, a boy born in Adar of a regular year, and 13 years later (the year of his Bar Mitzvah) is a 'leap year', his Bar Mitzvah is in Adar II - while Adar I will have no Bar Mitzvahs! Likewise, a girl born in Adar of a 'regular' year, and 12 years later (the year of her Bat Mitzvah) is a 'leap year', her Bat Mitzvah will be in Adar II. Adar I will have no Bat Mitzvahs! Last year, 5755, Adar I had no Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, since 12 and 13 years prior to 5755 were regular years! (Shulchan Aruch O. C. 55:10)

Which Tractate of the Talmud fits the following description:

The Aramaic translation of the name of this Tractate is the name of a different Tractate?

Tractate Kelayim - which teaches forbidden mixtures of plants. The verse says: "Don't plant kelayim in your field..." (Leviticus 19:19). Targum Onkelos translates the word 'kelayim' into Aramaic as 'eruvin' (mixtures). Eruvin is the name of a different Tractate that teaches the laws of carrying items on Shabbat from one halachic domain to another. An Eruv 'mixes' two domains into one, thereby permitting 'carrying' inside the Eruv.

(first sent in by Mordechai Perlman)


There is a day in the Jewish Calendar when some years we say Hallel and other years we say Tachanun. Which day is it?

The third of Tevet. Some years Kislev has 29 days and other years it has 30. When Kislev has 29, the third of Tevet is the last day of Chanukah on which we say Hallel, but when Kislev has 30 days, the third of Tevet is the day after Chanukah, and we say 'Tachanun.'

What is the longest Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals)? What can make it even longer?

When Rosh Chodesh Tevet falls on Shabbat, the Birkat HaMazon contains additions for Rosh Chodesh, Shabbat and Chanukah. It is even longer after a meal celebrating a Brit Milah, in which case there is an addition to the Zimun (introduction) and extra 'Harachamans' (special supplications).

Who in Bereshit was his sister's son-in-law?

Yosef. Yosef married Osnat, who was his sister's daughter. Yosef's sister Dina conceived a daughter during her tragic abduction by Shechem. This daughter, estranged from Jacob's family due to the circumstances of her birth, found her way to Egypt where she was adopted by Potifar. Thus the Torah calls her 'Osnat, daughter of Potifera,' because the Torah credits adoptive parents as though they had given birth to the child.


  • Me'am Loez Bereshit, Parshat Miketz
97 Which Mitzvah is performed on Wednesday or Thursday only?

Thanks to Joel Eisenman

Eruv Tavshilin. On Yom Tov (festival) it is permitted to cook and prepare food; but only food cooked in honor of Yom Tov itself. Preparing for the weekday is forbidden. What happens when Yom Tov falls on Friday? How are you able to prepare for Shabbat?

The answer: Eruv Tavshilin. The Sages enacted Eruv Tavshilin as a way of beginning Shabbat preparations Thursday, thus allowing you to continue preparing on Yom Tov itself. Essentially, Eruv Tavshilin means setting aside two food items -- one baked and one boiled -- in preparation for Shabbat. When a two-day Yom Tov falls on Thursday and Friday, the Eruv Tavshilin is set aside on Wednesday.


  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 527:1,2

(Based on a riddle sent in by Shlomo Steinhart)

Triplets and their cousin are born within a 2 hour period, yet the brit milah for each of the four takes place on four consecutive days. They are all healthy - i.e., no jaundice or other health problems. How can this be?

  1. One baby is born before sunset. His brit is 8 days later, which happens to be the day before Yom Tov.
  2. His brother is born after dark - halachically a new day. His brit is a full day later, the day of Yom Tov itself. A brit performed on the 8th day supersedes Yom Tov.
  3. The third triplet was born between the other two. He was born in the halachic 'gray area' after sunset but before dark. It is unclear if this is considered night or day. He can't have his brit the day before Yom Tov because that might be the 7th day, which is too early. He can't have his brit on Yom Tov, because that might be the 9th day, and only a brit done on the 8th day supersedes Yom Tov. Therefore, his brit is the day after Yom Tov.
  4. So much for the triplets who, by the way, were born in Israel. Their cousin in Johannesburg, South Africa was born at the same time as the baby in paragraph #3. His brit, however, is postponed yet another day, due to the extra day of Yom Tov observed outside of Israel! (Johannesburg is in the same time zone as Israel.)

Thanks to Shlomo Steinhart for the riddle idea.

Also thanks to Carl & Adina Sherer, Robert Vasl and Baruch Bar-Alon for sending in correct answers; their answers were basically the same as the answer we proposed with an additional twist that the *triplets* were born outside of Israel and the cousin was born in Israel. A particularly ingenious answer involved the International Date Line. Thank you!

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Which two Tractates in the Talmud begin with the same Mishnah?

Thanks to Avi Steinhart, Jerusalem

Tractate Nidah and Tractate Eduyot. Tractate Ediyot does not have as its focus any one subject. Rather, it contains a variety of topics, and repeats some concepts mentioned in other tractates.
104 Three members of the Jewish People whose names are mentioned in Torah (and were alive at the time) did not go out of Egypt during the Exodus.

Who are they?

Tzippora, Gershom and Eliezer. Moses' wife Tzippora and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, lived in Midian at the time of the Exodus from Egypt. Although Moses had planned to bring them along when he returned to Egypt, Aharon convinced him to the contrary. "Aren't there enough Jews suffering in Egypt already?" said Aharon.


  • Exodus 18:2,3 and Rashi
106 Reuven Davis sent in the following riddle, which he heard from Avigdor Frankenhauser

Which verse do we say every day in the prayers, that starts and ends with the same three words in the same order!"

The last verse in the third paragraph of the Shema. It starts and ends with the words 'Ani Hashem Elokaichem' - 'I am Hashem, your G-d.' However, we add the word 'Emet' (True) at the end of the verse in order to say 'Hashem Elokaichem Emet' - 'Hashem, your God, is True,' as in the verse in Jeremiah ch.10.
108 At the end of Moshe's life, Hashem shows Moshe the entire land of Israel. But where does the Torah indicate that Moshe saw Chevron long before that? In Parshat Bamidbar (3:19) the Torah says "And the children of Kehat were ... Amram (he was Moshe's father) and Yitzhar, Chevron and Uziel." Moshe's uncle was named Chevron! Don't you think Moshe saw his uncle!

Thanks to Efraim Yawitz.

110 Raphael N. Levi wrote:

Here is a Yiddle Riddle for you. Which ONE verse (NOT different verses with the same words) is read publicly from the Torah most frequently?

PS I enjoy your comments (even though I'm FFB).

Dear Raphael N. Levi,

Thanks for the riddle. By the term FFB, you mean 'Frum (Torah observant) From Birth.' That reminds me of a story:

Once, a young man studying in Ohr Somayach - a yeshiva where many students are newly observant - went to see the famous Chassidic Rebbe of Gur.

"In which yeshiva do you study?" the Rebbe asked.

"Ohr Somayach," he answered. "But I'm not a Ba'al Teshuva (newly observant)," the young man hastened to add.

"You're not a Ba'al Teshuva?" asked the Rebbe in surprise. "Why aren't you?"

(The Rebbe meant to say that everyone needs to make a personal commitment to the Torah, to become 'newly observant' every day.)

Numbers 28:3. This verse is part of the monthly Rosh Chodesh Torah reading. In most communities it is read twice during the Rosh Chodesh reading; hence, it is the most frequent publicly-read verse. (According to another custom, three other verses are repeated. Numbers 21:3 is nevertheless the most oft read verse, taking all communities into account.)
  • Shulchan Aruch Oruch Chaim 423:2, Mishna Berurah 3, Siddur Tefillat Kol Peh p. 416
112 As the sun moves from east to west, Shabbat and Yom Tov occur first in Israel, and then in America. Which mitzva is observed first in New York, and then in Jerusalem?

Reading Megillat Esther!

In New York (as in most places inside Israel and out) Purim is celebrated on Adar 14. But in Jerusalem, as in any city which had a wall around it in the days of Moses and Joshua, Purim is celebrated on Adar 15. This distinction commemorates the special miracles experienced in Persia's capital, the walled city of Shushan.


  • Tractate Megilla 2a
115 In what non-life-threatening situation is there a positive mitzvah to eat the meat of a neveilah - i.e., something that died without shechita (kosher slaughter)?

Riddle submitted by Reuven Miller

Chatat Ha'of.

A bird brought as an offering in the Temple wasn't slaughtered with a knife. Rather, the bird was killed by a sharp thumbnail inserted in the back of it's neck. If a non-Kohen ate it, he would be transgressing the prohibition of eating neveilah. Kohanim, however, were commanded to eat from this offering.


  • Rambam, Hilchot Ma'aseh Korbanot 10:1,11:9

Riddle submitted by Reuven Miller

117 Which Tractate's name is the antonym of the name of the Order (seder) of which it is part? 'ChuLlin,' the tractate whose name means 'non-holy things' is part of the order 'Kodshim,' - 'holy things.'
122 On Tisha B'Av morning, everyone sits on the floor as a sign of mourning. However, one person in every synagogue publicly sits down on a chair. Who is this person? The person honored with 'hagbah' - lifting the Torah after it is read. This person lifts the Torah from the 'bima' and sits in a chair. Then the Torah is bound and covered, and the person remains sitting until the Torah is returned to the Holy Ark.
124 If a tree falls in a forest and there's nobody around to hear it, does it make a noise? Yes, it makes a noise. The verse says, "There is no speaker, and no words, without their voice being heard." (Psalms 19:4) Even if no creature hears the noise, Hashem hears it.

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126 Which weekly Parsha is never read (outside of Israel) on Shabbat afternoon.

(Thanks to

Parshat Bereshit. Outside Israel, Simchat Torah always falls on a weekday. So the only Shabbat when Parshat Bereshit is read is the following Shabbat in the morning. In Israel, however, when Simchat Torah falls on Shabbat, we read Parshat Bereshit that very same afternoon.
128 Yoel Aharon Weinstein wrote:

I was reading The Midrash Says and came across the following as a possible Yiddle Riddle:

"On one historic Yom Kippur, the entire Jewish people ate and drank and were praised for it by Hashem." When did this occur?

When King Solomon built the Temple, Yom Kippur occurred during its seven Inauguration Days. The Sanhedrin decided that not only must the Inauguration Sacrifices for the Temple be offered but, moreover, the people must cook, eat, and drink on Yom Kippur or else the happiness of the Inauguration would be incomplete. (See Tractate Mo'ed Katan 9a.)
130 You are one of the judges in a Jewish court in a capital case. It is your turn to state your opinion. If you say, "I find the defendant innocent," then the defendant receives the death penalty. But if you say, "I find the defendant guilty," he goes 'scot-free.' What is the case? You are the last judge to vote, where all the other judges have already said 'guilty.'

According to Torah law, convicting someone of a capital crime requires a Sanhedrin of 23 judges. After hearing testimony from eye-witnesses, the judges vote. If at least thirteen of the judges vote 'guilty' the defendant is executed.

There is a surprising exception to this, however: If ALL the judges vote guilty, then the defendant is acquitted.

Here's why:

There are two ways to look at everything. There's no situation in this world without some merit or positive side. If not one judge was able to see the good side and declare the defendant innocent, something's wrong. The positive side of the case must have been missing during the presentation of the evidence. Therefore, he is acquitted.

Speaking of looking at the good side of criminals: I know of a theft that occurred in a Jerusalem yeshiva. The thief broke into the office safe which was full of cash, valuables and expensive silver ornaments used to adorn the Torah scroll. The thief stole everything in the safe except for these ornaments!


  • Maimonides, Laws of Sanhedrin 9:1
132 When is a non-kohen called first to the Torah in the presence of Kohanim?

Thanks to Zev Rosen

When he is the only non-kohen present.

Ordinarily, the first person called to the Torah is a 'kohen' - a descendant of Aharon. After the kohen, a 'levi' is called. The third person honored to go up to read the Torah is a 'yisrael' - someone who is neither a kohen nor a levi.

But if everyone in the synagogue is a kohen, with the exception of one non-kohen, the non-kohen is called first.

Since the Torah's "paths are pleasantness, and all it's ways are peace," it's fitting to have a systematic way to decide who will be honored first. This will preempt any ill-will or argument which might otherwise arise. (Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 135:12)

Speaking of arguing in synagogue: A young scholar from New York was invited to become Rabbi in a small old community in Chicago. On his very first Shabbat, a hot debate erupted as to whether one should or should not stand during the reading of the Ten Commandments.

Next day, the rabbi visited 98 year-old Mr. Katz in the nursing home. "Mr. Katz, I'm asking you as the oldest member of the community," said the rabbi, "what is our synagogue's custom during the reading of the Ten Commandments?"

"Why do you ask?" asked Mr. Katz.

"Yesterday we read the Ten Commandments. Some people stood, some people sat. The ones standing started screaming at the ones sitting, telling them to stand up. The ones sitting started screaming at the ones standing, telling them to sit down... "

"That," said the old man "is our custom."

134 What is the relationship between the button on a man's trousers' back-pocket being on the left side, according to American standards, and one of the 613 commandments of the Torah? Most men have more 'padding' in back on the left side than they have on the right (perhaps due to the right side being generally more muscular). The button on the left pocket encourages people to put their wallets there. Since the left has more padding, the wallet causes less pinching of the sciatic nerve - otherwise known as the Gid HaNashe - than were it to be placed on the right.
136 "I've always been healthy and a I'm a first born male, my parents are observant Jews yet I'm exempt from circumcision. Who am I?"

(Riddle concept: Eli Weiscz from Zurich)

A first-born of triplets, born Friday after sunset, whose brothers - born after dark - died due to circumcision. If, G-d forbid, two brothers die from circumcision, any other brother born to that family is exempt from circumcision.

In the above case, the younger brothers are circumcised first, before the older brother, for the following reason:

A circumcision can be performed on Shabbat only if Shabbat is the eighth day from the birth. Since the younger brothers were indeed born on Shabbat, they are circumcised eight days later, on Shabbat.

But the eldest was born during the doubtful 'twilight' period, when we're not sure if Shabbat started or not. So he can't be circumcised the following Shabbat, for fear that it's not the eighth day. Circumcising him would then be a desecration of Shabbat. He can't be circumcised on Friday, either, because it might be too early. Therefore, his circumcision would be on Sunday, nine days later.

138 Halachically, what do the following days have in common?
  1. 21 Cheshvan
  2. 3 January
  3. 15 Iyar

Thanks to Saul Behr

They are the days outside Israel after which you no longer have to repeat Shmoneh Esrei prayer if you forgot whether or not you:
  1. Said "Mashiv Haruach u'Morid Hageshem"
  2. Said "Tal U'Matar"
  3. Omitted the above

The silent prayer contains seasonal additions for rain. On Shemini Atzeret we begin praising Hashem for rain by saying Mashiv Haruach u'Morid Hageshem. Starting the night of December 4th we add a prayer - V'ten tal u'matar Livracha - asking for rain. On the first day of Pesach, we stop saying both of these.

If you forgot whether you correctly added the seasonal addition (or in the proper season omitted it), during the first thirty days you are assumed to have erred due to force of habit. Therefore you must repeat the prayer correctly.

The dates listed above are, respectively, thirty days after the beginning of saying Mashiv Haruach u'Morid Hageshem (Shemini Atzeret), "Tal U'Matar" (December 5th), and ommitting them both on the first day of Pesach (15 Nissan).

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 114,117

140 Good is no good
Whenever I'm near.
As his I'm mistaken
When taken by ear.
'Thou shalt' by my side
Is an order for quitting.
And spelling me backwards
Is no less forbidding.
Have you guessed the nature
Of my little 'con' game?
If you're right then I'm not.
Now what is my 'name'?

Riddle by Reuven Subar

My name is 'Lo' - spelled 'lamed alef.' 'Lo' means 'no' and 'not.' It sounds like the word spelled 'lamed vav' which is Hebrew for 'his.' 'Lo' spelled backwards is 'Al,' which also means 'not.'
142 The name of which Parsha has the same gematria - numerical value - as the number of its verses? Parshat Tzav, which has 96 verses. (This is according to some opinions. However, according to the punctuation in a standard Chumash, Tzav contains 97 verses.)

(Riddle posed by Josh Spindell)


What word in Hebrew is spelled "Vav Vav Vav Vav"?

(Thanks to R. Mordechai Sunray)

Answer: "And his hook" The Hebrew word for 'hook' is 'vav'. It is spelled with two letters: 'vav' and 'vav.' The letter 'vav' as a prefix means 'and.' The letter 'vav' as a suffix means 'his.' Hence, the word spelled 'vav vav vav vav' means 'and his hook.'
148 There is a person mentioned in Tanach, who the last part of his name is the English translation of the first part of his name. Who is this person?

(Riddle thanks to Danny Frohlich.)

Andy & Roochie Kohlenberg from Efrat, Israel wrote:

"The answer is Michayhu of Kings 22:8. 'Hu' (who) in English is 'mi' in Hebrew."

Thanks! We didn't think of that one. Our answer is: Yonadov! The English translation of Yona is dove! Yonadov ben Rachav was originally named Yehonadov, but his name was shortened to Yonadov when he joined with King Yehu.


  • Jeremiah 38:19
  • II Kings 10:15
  • Midrash Hagadol Shemot 18:1
150 wrote:

Hi, This may interest you as a Yiddle Riddle: When can a person be called to the Torah for 3 successive aliyot (called up to make blessings at the public Torah reading) on the same day?

A kohen is called to the Torah for maftir, which is the last aliya on Shabbat morning. He then goes to the afternoon service where he is called up first for the kohen aliya. There is no levi, so he receives the next aliya in place of a levi.

Thanks, Jerry, for the question and answer.

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152 Explain how the following situation could occur: You take a certain item and before deriving benefit from it you say the required blessing. One minute later you take the exact same item and derive the exact same type of benefit from it. However, this time the required blessing beforehand is a different blessing. (The item contains no grain. The item undergoes no change whatsoever.) Smelling fragrant spices after Shabbat.

There are different categories of fragrant spices. Each category requires a different blessing. For example, for spices that grow on trees the blessing is "Blessed are You Hashem ...Who creates fragrant trees." For spices derived from herbs which do not grow on trees, the blessing is "Blessed are You Hashem ...Who creates fragrant herbs."

However, at the 'havdalah' ceremony after Shabbat a different blessing is said. At 'havdalah' the blessing is always "Blessed are you Hashem ...Who creates various types of fragrances." In essence, this blessing is for a mixture of spices, or for spices of unknown nature. But at havdala, this is the standard blessing regardless of the type of spice. This avoids confusion, since often it's difficult to identify a given spice, its origins and proper blessing. (This is according to the Ashkenazic custom. Sephardic Jews say the precise blesssing.)

So, let's say you use a myrtle branch for the havdalah ceremony (intending to smell it only once). You say: "Blessed are You ...Who creates various spices." Then, immediately after havdalah you decide to smell the exact same myrtle branch. This time, the blessing is "Blessed are You ...Who creates fragrant trees."

Ideally, you should use for havdalah a spice whose proper blessing is "various spices" The Mishna Berurah suggests cloves.


  • Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 217
  • Ibid., Mishna Berurah 5, Sha'ar Hatzion 6
  • Aruch Hashulchan, Orach Chaim 297:4
  • Mishna Berurah 297:1
154 Judith Subar wrote:

We were at our synagogue dinner and someone asked the following Yiddle Riddle: What blessing can't you say if you are on the moon?

Meyer Beck of The Toronto Stock Exchange correctly wrote:

Kiddush Levana - the blessing on seeing the New Moon.

The blessing said when sighting the New Moon can be recited only at night when you can benefit from the moon's light. Even at night, if it's cloudy and you see only a vague image of the moon you don't say the blessing, since you don't benefit from its rays. So too, if you were actually standing on the moon you wouldn't be able to say the blessing of Kiddush Levana, because you wouldn't be deriving benefit from the moon's rays!


  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 426:1 Rema
  • Ibid. Magen Avraham 1
156 How can you have a mixture which is dairy, and when meat accidentally falls in, the mixture becomes parve (neither meat nor dairy)? Milk or meat which falls into a food is considered 'nullified' if the food contains 60 times the amount of the milk or meat. But if the food contains only 59 times the amount of milk or meat, then the milk or meat is not nullified.

Therefore, if a mixture contains a ratio of 59 parts of parve food and one part milk, it is dairy. If one part of meat then falls in, the meat becomes nullified because the other food is 60 times greater than it. At this point, the milk also becomes nullified because now there are also 60 units of food more than it (59 parve plus one of meat). Thus the entire mixture becomes parve.


  • Yoreh De'ah 98:9
158 What holiday addition to the 'grace after meals' is it that most people don't say and hope they never have to? Ya'aleh Veyavo for Yom Kippur. If a sick person needs to eat on Yom Kippur, he adds the ya'aleh veyavo insertion into the 'grace after meals' and mentions Yom Kippur. Even sick people rarely say this, because — if they can — they always try to eat small amounts which don't require 'grace after meals.' Good health to everyone!


  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 618:10
161 Once upon a time, a young man came to a rabbi and asked, "Rabbi, please tell me while I stand on one foot: What is the foundation upon which the entire Torah is based?"

The Rabbi answered "Whistle till the fish comes backwards."

What did he mean?

Whistle' in Hebrew is "Tishrok." It is spelled "tav shin reish koof." These are the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, backwards. "The fish comes" in Hebrew is "hadag ba," spelled "hey dalet gimmel bet aleph." These are the first letters of the Hebrew alphabet, backwards. Hence, 'Whistle' till 'the fish comes,' backwards, refers to the entire Hebrew alphabet, which is the foundation of the entire Torah.
163 Ralph Zwier of Double Z Computer sent us this riddle:

We all know that you must nullify chametz prior to Pesach at a time when it is still permissible to derive benefit from it, because when the chametz becomes totally prohibited, the Torah withdraws a person's ownership of it and the person can no longer nullify it.

Under what circumstances would a person be able to make an effective statement of nullification during Pesach, which will enable him to avoid transgressing the strict prohibition on owning chametz?

The person has some "Kosher for Passover" flour which became mixed with water during Pesach. Before the mixture becomes chametz, he can nullify it in order to avoid transgressing the prohibition of owning chametz.


  • Orach Chaim 444:8
165 Shira Aliza Phillips from Brooklyn, New York wrote us the following:

I have a Yiddle Riddle for you, as told to me by Mora Vered Goldfarb: Of which two people in the Torah can it be said that their names spelled backwards are words used by the Torah to describe them?

Noach and Er, son of Judah. Concerning Noach the verse says "Noach found favor (chein) in Hashem's eyes." In Hebrew, Chein is Noach spelled backwards. Concerning Er the verse says "And Er, Judah's firstborn, was evil (rah) in Hashem's eyes. In Hebrew, Rah is Er spelled backwards.
  • Bereishit 6:8, 38:7
167 How is water from the sea
like atonement like a cow?
(Say these clues in Hebrew
And then you'll know just how!)

How's an onion in the shade
like three that he kneaded?
(These clues, too, are much clearer,
When in Hebrew they're repeated.)

Riddle courtesy of: Kol Simcha English Radio, 103.5 FM, Friday mornings 9:30am -1:00pm
In Hebrew, these are all homographs - that is, they are pairs of words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently.

Water / From the sea = Mayim / Miyam
Atonement / Like a cow = Kapara / K'para
An onion / In the shade = Batzal / Batzel
Three / That he kneaded = Shalosh / Shelash

In Hebrew, these pairs of words are all spelled exactly the same!
169 Jack Stroh, East Brunswick, NJ wrote:

Here is a riddle I am submitting from my father-in-law Stanley Chazan and my daughter Aviva Stroh: "Name 6 couples mentioned in Tanach whose first names start with the same letter in Hebrew."

  • Noach and Naama
  • Esav and Adah
  • Aharon and Elisheva
  • Otniel ben Knaz and Achsah bat Kalev
  • Achav and Izevel
  • Esther and Achashveirosh
171 Baruch Sterman wrote us with the following riddle:

When one of the Chassidic Rebbes was eight years old, he was asked a riddle: "What verse in the Torah has the first three words the same as the last three words?" He replied, "The verse where Moses did not say emet (the truth)." What did he mean?

In the last verse in Parshat Shlach, Moses quotes G-d: "Ani Hashem Elokaychem … Ani Hashem Elokaychem" - "I am the L-rd your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt to be your G-d, I am the L-rd your G-d." After this verse during the recital of the Shema, we immediately add the word "emet" - "truth" - as though this word were part of the verse. This, however, is not the way the verse appears in the Torah. Therefore, this is the verse in which Moses did not say the word "emet," although when we read the verse, we do say "emet."
173 Where does the word Chanukah appear in this week's Parsha (Mikeitz)? (That is, all the letters of the word "Chanukah" are written together, although they are out of order.) "Yosef said to his attendant, 'slaughter and prepare (the meal)....' " (Bereishis 43:16 ) The word for "and prepare" - (vav - hay - chaf - nun sofit) - plus the last letter of the word "slaughter" - (tet - bayt - chet) - spell "Chanukah" when they are rearranged.
174 Here's a Yiddle Riddle my son Dovid is submitting: Which person in Tanach was born before his mother ever was, died before his father, and is buried in his grandmother?"

Chaim Salenger

Hevel [Abel]:
  • Born before his mother ever was – his mother, Eve, was never "born."
  • Died before his father Adam — Hevel was killed by his brother.
  • Buried in his grandmother — his father, Adam, came from the earth, so the earth is his "grandmother."

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176 I've been carrying this Yiddle Riddle around with me for years. I've discussed it with Rabbanim and scholars and have yet to find the flaw in it. It's not a simple riddle to explain. But that's what you do so well. If you find a hole in my logic I'd really love to hear it. Here goes. "Who was the first person to die after the Great Flood (mabul)?"

Eli & Zahava Gross


On the verse "Haran died in the presence of his father," the Zohar states that Haran was the first person to die in his father's lifetime. The Vilna Gaon explains that this refers to those who died after the Flood, because before the flood we do find those who died in their fathers' lifetimes — Hevel and Chanoch, for example. Now here's the rub: A simple calculation shows that Noach outlived Haran! So if Noach was still alive when Haran died and no person had yet died in their father's lifetime, then no one could have died period! For if Noach was alive, his children must have been alive. And their children must have been alive. Continue the logic through the generations and you'll realize nobody died!

178 Shira Phillips wrote with the following riddle:

Dear Yiddle Riddle people: The following is a story I read about Rashi in a child's Hebrew biography in perhaps fourth grade. Nobody I know has been able to solve the question without help. Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak) once went on a journey. On his trip, he wanted to visit a wealthy man to collect money for poor people. When he visited, the man was not at home but his servant was. The servant said that he recognized the great Rashi as a thief who had previously run off with a suit of his master's clothing and forced Rashi to pay for the clothing! Rashi wrote the following Hebrew word on the door five times in a row: The word was spelled "Shin Lamed Mem Hey." What did the message mean?

PS Rashi definitely got the hoped-for reaction: The wealthy man contributed to the tzedaka and was from then on always a follower of Rashi.

Why (she'lama) did Shlomo pay for (shilmah Shlomo) an entire suit of clothing (salma sheleima)? (Note: Salma in modern Hebrew means a dress but in the Chumash it means a garment. Shilmah is a contraction of shilaim otah — "paid (for) it.")
180 A neighbor asked me the following riddle: Shemoneh Esrei consists of 19 blessings. Who, when, where and in what situation does a person say 21 blessings during the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei? A kohen in Jerusalem leading the service on a fast day. On a fast day, the one leading the service adds the "aneinu" blessing during the repetition of the morning and afternoon Shemoneh Esrei. If he is a kohen, he will also say a blessing before bircat kohanim, the priestly blessings. (In Jerusalem, and many other places in Israel, bircat kohanim is said every day.)


  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 566:1
182 In what situation will two people in the same place be obligated to make Kiddush on different nights? That is, the night the first one is obligated, the second one is not, and the night the second one is obligated, the first one is not. The two people are in the desert, both having forgotten what day of the week it is. Someone traveling in the desert who forgets what day it is counts seven days starting the day he realizes that he lost count. He sanctifies the seventh day by making Kiddush and Havdalah. So, if two separate travelers come to the same place in the desert, each having forgotten what day it is — but each having realized his mistake on a different day — they will be obligated to make Kiddush on different nights!


  • Tractate Shabbat 69b
  • Aruch Hashulchan Orach Chaim 342
184 When are your Shabbat Candles like a United States President? When they're A'blinkin'!
185 Who was the first person to study Chumash with Rashi?

Submitted by Alan Frank from Jerusalem

Rashi's father!


Purim so recently passed, I thought you might be interested in this riddle: Which four people's names from the Chumash also appear (as names) in Megillat Esther?

Elozor Barclay from Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem

  1. Kush (Bereishet 10:6, Esther 1:1)
  2. Madai (Bereishet 10:2, Esther 1:3)
  3. Yair (Bamidbar 32:41) (Esther 2:5)
  4. Yehuda (Bereishet 29:35) (Esther 2:6)

(The trick was to think about names of places as well as names of people.)


One Shabbat, Reuven invites Shimon's family for dinner. After the meal, Reuven and Shimon say birkat hamazon (the blessings after the meal) but they do not say exactly the same words when doing so. The next Shabbat, Shimon invites Reuven's family for dinner. When they say birkat hamazon, this time Reuven says exactly the same words that Shimon said last week and Shimon says exactly what Reuven said last week.

A few days later, Reuven invites Shimon's family over for another meal. This time, birkat hamazon is even more dissimilar between the two of them. The next day Shimon invites Reuven's family for a meal, and once again, Shimon says the exact words that Reuven said the previous day, and Reuven says the exact words that Shimon said.

Levi thinks that this is due to increasing tensions between the families, so he gets his wife to invite the two families over for meals the next month. During the first dinner, Reuven and Shimon say birkat hamazon the same way. "Shalom al Yisrael — peace upon Israel," Levi thinks. But the following dinner, they again say birkat hamazon differently!

What is going on here?

Riddle submitted by Lev Seltzer

The first Shabbat, the differences between Reuven and Shimon are as follows: Shimon, the guest, adds the blessing for the host into his birkat hamazon, but the host does not. This procedure is reversed the next Shabbat.

A few days later it is the 14th of Adar, which is Purim for everyone except those who reside in an ancient walled city like Jerusalem. Reuven, who resides outside Jerusalem, invites Shimon, who resides in Jerusalem, to his home for a meal. Since it is Purim for Reuven but not for Shimon, Reuven adds the Purim addition of "al hanisim" to his birkat hamazon while Shimon does not. The next day, the 15th of Adar, Shimon reciprocates. The 15th of Adar is Purim for those in Jerusalem, but not for those outside. This time, Shimon says "al hanisim" while Reuven does not.

The next month is Pesach. They are invited to Levi's house on the 7th day of Pesach, and they say the normal birkat hamazon, including the holiday addition of "ya'ale v'yavo." The next day, however, is the 8th day of Pesach for Reuven, who is still a "chutznik" — a person visiting the Land of Israel. Therefore, he says "ya'ale v'yavo." Shimon, who resides permanently in the Land of Israel, celebrates only 7 days of Pesach, and does not say "ya'ale v'yavo."


What is the explanation of the following? "Shmini B'Shmini Shmini Shmini."

Outside of the Land of Israel, when Parshat Shmini is read B'Shmini, i.e., on the eighth day of Passover at mincha time (due to the eighth day of Passover occurring on Shabbat), then Parshat Shmini is read Shmini, i.e., eight times altogether.

The eight times are: 1) Mincha time on Shabbat before Passover 2) Monday before Passover 3) Thursday before Passover 4) First day of Passover (which is also Shabbat) at mincha time 5) Eighth day of Passover (which is also Shabbat) at mincha time 6) Monday after Passover 7) Thursday after Passover 8) Morning of Shabbat Parshat Shmini.


Women customarily light two Shabbos candles every Friday afternoon before sunset. The Mishnah Berurah (263:7) says that if a women forgets to light Shabbos candles, she has to light an extra Shabbos candle for the rest of her life. So, if she forgot to light candles the first week, she would have to light three candles the next week. If she forgot the next week as well, then she would need to light four candles the third week. If this continues over a period of 10 weeks, what is the total number of candles she will have used during this 10 week period?

Submitted by Lev Seltzer



When is the only time one would say "Av Harachamim" two days in a row? (Av Harachamim is the prayer which, according to the Askenazic custom, is generally said on Shabbat before musaf).

Riddle submitted by Dr. Joel Luber, Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem

In Eretz Yisrael, when Erev Shavuot falls on Shabbat, Av Harachamim is said on Shabbat, and again on Sunday - Shavuot - as part of Yizkor (Ashkenazic custom).

Though Av Harachamim is usually omitted on a Shabbat falling on a day when Tachanun would be omitted were it a weekday, it is nonetheless recited the Shabbat before Shavuot, even if it is Erev Yom Tom. This is because the massacres of Rhineland Jewry during the First Crusade reached their peak in the beginning of Sivan.

Originally, Av Harachamim was recited on only one or two Shabbatot during the year, the Shabbatot before Shavuot and before Tisha B'Av. This is still the custom of many German Jewish communities and the United Synagogues of Great Britain. As persecutions and martyrdom continued throughout the centuries, its recital was extended to most Shabbatot.

  • Bein Pesach L'Shavuot by Rabbi Zvi Cohen, ch. 3, paragraphs 6,13,14

Two exactly identical people in the exact same place on the exact same day do the exact same act with the exact same intentions. However, the first one is fulfilling a mitzvah d'oraita, a Torah commandment, and the second one is transgressing an issur d'oraita, a Torah prohibition.

(Note: The people are exactly identical. The answer is not: "One's a kohen - or member of any special group - and one isn't," or "One's life is in danger and one's isn't." In other words, the riddle could equally be asked about the same person acting twice.)

Hint #1: The first person says a blessing before his action.
Hint #2: The order of their actions is important.

Riddle submitted by Rabbi Yaakov Bradpiece

The first person ritually slaughters a female animal. The second one ritually slaughters the offspring of that animal. The first one has done a mitzvah, and the second one has done a sin, as the Torah says, "A cow or sheep, it and it's child you shall not slaughter on the same day." (Leviticus 22:28)


This morning in shul, I noticed that during chazarat hashatz (cantor's repetition of the silent prayer) I responded "amen" 26 times. However, my one friend responded "amen" only 22 times, and my other friend only three times! Can you explain why? (By the way, we all had finished our silent prayer completely, we all paid attention during the entire repetition, and we all responded properly.)

(Riddle submitted by Rabbi Avraham Connack, Jerusalem)

It was Rosh Chodesh, and we were in Jerusalem where kohanim bless the people every day by saying birkas kohanim. Therefore, I answered 26 times: 19 blessings of shemoneh esrei, 4 during birkat kohanim and 3 during ya'ale v'yavo. My one friend was a kohen, and therefore didn't say amen to the birkat kohanim, so he answered just 22 times. My other friend was the chazan, and he answered amen only to the 3 priestly blessings. (See Mishna Berura O.C. 128:17 Shaar Hatzion 61 that a chazan using a siddur can respond to the 3 blessings of birkat kohanim but not to the actual blessing of the kohen.)


Which verse in the Torah begins and ends with the same word. (The word beginning the verse begins with a vav (meaning and), while the word ending the verse does not, but otherwise it is the same word.)

(Submitted by Rabbi Dr. Avigdor Boncheck)

Bamidbar 32:1. The verse says: "U'mikneh rav hiya l'vnei Reuven ... u'lavadecha mikneh" - "Cattle galore there was to the children of Reuven... and your servants have cattle.

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Please fill in the missing 5 numbers in the following sequence: 15, 16, 115, 116, 215, 216,___, ___, ___, ___, ___, 315, 316.

Riddle submitted by Lev Seltzer

270, 272, 275, 304 and 309. Why:

Numbers in Hebrew are written by combining the letters. For example aleph=1, bet=2, yud=10, kuf=100, etc. So, 11 would be yud-aleph. However, some numbers are not written in the normal form. 15 would normally be written yud and hey, but because this spells a name of Hashem, it is customarily written tet-vav (as in Tu B'Shvat). The same is true of tet-zayin, 16, instead of yud and vav. All the given numbers in the question are written in reverse order.

The numbers 270, 272, 275, 304 and 309 are also numbers which are not written in the normal pattern, because the normal pattern would spell a word with negative connotations. 270 and 275 would normally be spelled raysh ayin and raysh ayin hey. These spell ra and ra'ah, both of which mean "bad". 272 would normally be spelled resh ayin bet which spells ra'av meaning "famine." 304 would normally be spelled shin dalet which spells shaid meaning "demon." 309 would normally be spelled shin tet which spells shat meaning "to go astray." Since the normal way to write these numbers spells words with negative connotations, these numbers are written in reverse order.


What prominent day in the Jewish calendar can be found on the standard map of the New York City subway system? (Hint: Tachanun is not recited on this day.)

Near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the map identifies Ninth Avenue as "9 Av" (and the next street over is "10 Av," appropriate for this year since the fast is held on the 10th of Av.) Another answer is 1 Av, which is Rosh Chodesh. (15 Av, Tu B'Av, is not a good answer, because the Manhattan part of the map goes from 1 Av to 12 Av, and parts of Brooklyn and Queens have 14, 18, 20, 23 and 30 Av. But no 15.)


Which weekly Torah portion don't we read this year?

Parshat Vayelech. In the year 5757, Parshat Vayelech was read before Rosh Hashana (25 Elul 5757). The next reading of Parshat Vayelech is in 5759, just after Rosh Hashana (6 Tishri 5759). In 5758 it is not read at all.


The following riddle is based on a question asked by the Ben Ish Chai, zatzal, who left hundreds of heiche timtzes (riddles) for the teachers in his kehillah (community).

At the time of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple), there was a town near the Euphrates in which the first day of Pesach was always observed for one day. The first day of Succos, however, was sometimes observed 1 day and sometimes 2. Why?

Riddle idea: Eli Rothschild, Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem

This town was 11 day's traveling distance from Jerusalem. When Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) was proclaimed in Jerusalem, messengers went out to inform the people. Even though these messengers did not travel on Shabbat, they would always reach this town in time for Pesach, because at most only two Sabbaths interrupted their journey, giving them 13 days to get there (11 of travel plus 2 of rest). This is enough time to arrive before Pesach, which is on the 15th of Nissan.

Before Succot, however, there are two additional holidays: Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. These are additional days on which the messengers did not travel. Therefore, sometimes the messengers would arrive in time for Succot and sometimes they would not. It depends: If both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur occur on weekdays, they "use up" two additional travel days. If so, the messengers need 15 days to get there (11 travel plus 2 Sabbaths plus 2 holidays = 15). This is not enough time to arrive before Succot, which is on the 15th of Tishrei. Not knowing the correct date, they therefore needed to observe two days due to doubt. If either Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur occur on Shabbat, however, they gain a day and arrive on time.


Did Esav get nachas from any of his children? (Note: "Nachas" generally refers to getting satisfaction or pleasure from someone or something).

(Riddle submitted by Rabbi Dovid Alexander, Neve Yaakov Jerusalem)

Yes. Nachas son of Reuel was the name of one of Esav's grandchildren (Bereshet 36:17). Hence, Esav got "Nachas" from his son Reuel. For this reason, some people bless each other with the phrase "You should have 'yiddishe' (Jewish) nachas, as opposed to 'Esav-type' nachas.


What is the shortest word in the Torah?

Riddle submitted by Shmuel Bendel

The word is "ha." It is one letter, and appears in the book of Devarim 32:6. In most texts of the Chumash the masoretic note in the margin reads "Hey rabasi, v'hee teiva l'atzma" - "large hey, and it is a word unto itself."


During a certain period of the year, there is something we do three times a day, almost every day. We do it twice with one part of the body and once with another part of the body (according to Ashkenazic custom). What is it?

(Riddle submitted by Rabbi Yonasan Taub)

Nefilat apaim (tachanun) during selichot. It is performed twice with the left arm and once with the right, as follows:

Starting several days before Rosh Hashanah and continuing until Yom Kippur, we say penitential selichot prayers, part of which includes nefilat apaim, the putting down of the head. Nefilat apaim is performed by putting one's head down upon one's sleeve and saying a prayer. It is customarily performed by putting one's head down upon one's weaker arm (for most people, the left arm.)

Nefilat apaim is repeated two more times as part of the normal daily prayers, once during the morning prayers (shacharit) and once during the afternoon prayers (mincha). During mincha, it is also performed as mentioned above, by putting the head on the left arm. During shacharit however, in deference to the tefillin which one wears on one's left arm, one performs nefilat apaim upon one's right arm.


Twin brothers are born from the same mother on the very same morning. Both are perfectly healthy. Yet, the proper day for one's brit mila is 8 days later, while the proper day for the other one's brit mila is not until the 9th day. Why?

The babies are born Shabbat morning. The first one is a normal birth, and the second one is born by cesarean section.

Brit mila on the eight day from birth supersedes Shabbat. However, this is only true of a natural birth. Brit mila after a cesarean section does not supersede Shabbat. Hence, the first baby has his brit eight days later, on Shabbat, while the second one must wait till the ninth day from birth, Sunday.


  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 266:10

The Year 2000 will, G-d willing, be very special; so much so that we will not observe the fast of Asara b'Tevet (the Tenth of Tevet) that year. Why not?

(Submitted by Zvi Freund, Kew Garden, NY)

Because the Jewish date "10 Tevet" will not occur in the civil calendar year 2000. The Tenth of Tevet this year, 1999, will occur on December 19. The next Tenth of Tevet will be 13 months later, on January 5, 2001. This long interval is due to 5760 being a Jewish leap year, in which a month is added to the year. Thus, there will be no Tenth of Tevet in the year 2000.


This riddle is attributed to the Ibn Ezra. Two characters in Tanach: one's name makes him sound as though he's his own uncle, and the other's would have him appear to be his own grandfather. Who are they?

(Riddle submitted by Dovid Solomon)

King Achav ("Ach" means brother, "av" means father; hence "Achav" means "Brother of father" or "uncle.") (Melachim I 16:28) Avner son of Ner ("Avner" sounds like "the father" (av) of Ner). (Shmuel I 26:5)


Here is a Yiddle Riddle which I heard from a prominent cheder rebbi in Yerushalayim: Name four people in Sefer Bereishis (Genesis) whose names consist of two words.

Avraham Rosenthal

Tuval Kayin (Bereishet 4:22); May Zahav (Bereishet 36:39); Poti Fera (Bereishet 41:45); Tsafnas Panayach (Bereishet 41:45).

Ohrnet Notes:

What about Adam HaRishon? (Just kidding.) But on a more serious note: Ben Oni! That was Rachel's name for her son Binyamin. (Bereishet 25:18) And what about Malki Tzedek, king of Shalem? (Bereishet 14:18)


"The long, the short, the black, the white, the his, the hers, and the theirs. What seven similar days - i.e., days which are observed with similar types of observances - in the Jewish calendar do these describe?

(Riddle submitted by Dons Hool, Kollel Ponevez, as heard from his mother)

The long - 17 Tammuz (longest daytime fast); the short - 10 Tevet (shortest fast); the black - 9 Av (day of mourning, when we sit in the dark); the white - Yom Kippur (we wear white kittle frocks and cover the Torah with white); the his - 3 Tishrei (Fast of Gedalia); the hers - 13 Adar (Fast of Esther); the theirs - 14 Nissan (Fast of the Firstborn).


Which verse in the Torah has all the letters of the Aleph-Beis?

(Source: Ba'al Haturim)

Exodus 16:16. This verse, which contains all the letters of in Hebrew alphabet, describes the gathering of the miraculous manna which fell in the desert: "This is the thing that G-d commanded: Each person should gather of it as much as he needs to eat, an omer-measure per person, according to the number of people each man has in his tent." This teaches that whoever fulfills the Torah in its entirety - "from aleph to taf" (the first and last letters in the Aleph-Beis) - will be assured of his sustenance by G-d.


One Friday evening recently, I said the first paragraph of shema five times, and each time it was for a different reason. How did this occur?

(Riddle Submitted by Benjie Gerstman, Jerusalem)

We accepted Shabbos early, praying the evening service before three stars appeared in the sky. We read all three paragraphs of shema as a preface to the silent prayer. Even though one does not fulfill the obligation of saying the evening shema before the stars appear, it is customary to read shema with its blessings in order to say the "redemption" blessing immediately before the silent prayer (somech geula l'tefilla) and to pray amidst words of Torah study.

When the three stars came out, we repeated all three paragraphs of shema, this time in order to fulfill the mitzvah to recite the evening shema in its proper time, night time.

When I put my son to sleep, I said the first paragraph of shema with him. This time I was fulfilling the obligation of teaching Torah to my son, as it says in the shema itself, "you shall teach them to your children."

That week's Parsha was Parshat Vaetchanan. As part of the custom of completing the Parsha before reading it in shul, I read the entire Parsha, which includes the first paragraph of shema.

Before going to sleep, I said the first paragraph of shema a fifth time during the bedtime - kriat shema al ha'mita - as protection for my soul during sleep.


I have a new Yiddle Riddle for you, which I heard from my friend Avrohom Moshe Rosenwasser. When would I have to make at least 20 berachot because I drank one cup of orange juice?

(Riddle Submitted by Yochi Schnall)

On motzei Shabbat, Saturday night after Shabbat, if one forgets to say the added "ata chonantanu" paragraph in the silent prayer (shemone esrei), he need not repeat the silent prayer unless he eats or drinks before saying havdalah. However, if he forgets ata chonantanu and then eats or drinks before havdalah, then he must repeat the entire shemone esrei (19 blessings plus the blessing after the orange juice).

  • Source: Shulchan Aruch 294:1, Mishna Berurah 4

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What verse in the Torah contains the same shoresh (root) four times in a row?

(Riddle and answer submitted by C. Blum, Toronto)

Bamidbar 4:47. In describing the Levites' Sanctuary service, the verse says "la'avod avodat avodah v'avodat masa - to serve the service of Service and the service of carrying...." This verse contains the Hebrew root for service, "ayin, bet, daled" four times in a row.


What letter from the Aleph Beis is missing from the Bircas Hamazon and why? Thank you for your wonderful work for the klal (community).

(Rabbi R.Y. Eisenman from Passaic, NJ)

"Peh sophit" - final peh. The reason being that who ever says the blessing after bread properly will be saved from "aph, shetseph and ketseph;" all of these words are expressions of Hashem's anger and they all end with the letter "peh sophit."

  • Tashbetz Katan 366

In Bereishet 24:28, Rivka is asked if she is prepared to go with Avraham's servant, and she responds in the affirmative. Rashi says that she is saying that she will go even if her mother and brother are opposed. Commentators on Rashi say that this is derived from the fact that she answers: "I will go!" instead of a simple "Yes." Of course, this only makes sense if there is somewhere in Scripture that we actually do find the usage of "Yes" in response to a question. The question is, do we find in the Torah a word meaning "Yes?" (The word "ken" appears many times in the Torah, as in "ken b'not tzeldovrot" and "Lo ta'asun ken," but not with its modern meaning of "Yes.")

D. Kurtz

In Bereishet 30:34 Lavan says to Ya'akov: "Hen." Rashi explain this as "lashon kabalat devarim," "Yes" in English. This is an Aramaic word which we would have expected Lavan's sister, Rivka to use in answer to the question of whether or not she was prepared to go.


I have fulfilled a Rabbinical commandment when I was not yet commanded to fulfill a Torah commandment. Therefore, I can no longer fulfill the Torah commandment when I am commanded to fulfill it. How is this possible?

(Riddle courtesy of Mordechai Perlman)

A minor who became an adult between Pesach and Pesach Sheini (a month later, Iyar 14). In such a case in the time when the Holy Temple stood, he is responsible for eating the Pesach offering on Pesach Sheini. But if he was included in the Pesach offering on Pesach itself (and thus fulfilled eating the Pesach offering only on a Rabbinical level), he is exempt from fulfilling it again on Pesach Sheini (even though it would now be a Torah commandment since he as an adult).

  • Source: Rambam, Laws of Korban Pesach 5:7

What name is mentioned three times in the Torah, once as a non-Jew, once as a convert, and once as a Jew?

(Submitted by Yitzy Kimmel from Brooklyn, NY)

Re'uel. The first Re'uel mentioned is one of Esav's sons, who was not Jewish (Bereishet 36:4). The second refers to Yisro, a convert to Judaism (Shemot 2:18, see Rashi 4:18). The third Re'uel is the father of the nasi (prince) Elyasaf, prince of the Tribe of Gad. His name is spelled three times as De'uel, and once as Re'uel (Bamidbar 2:14).


My son is beginning to learn Hebrew, and he knows all the letters. But he makes mistakes with the vowels, and with knowing where the words begin and end.

For example, the other day he was reading from the Chumash, and he came across a phrase that he translated into English as "Who? Who? Who? Who? What?" What verse was he reading?

Riddle courtesy of Kol Simcha 103.5 FM (Jerusalem), Friday mornings in English from 9:30am - 1:00pm

Exodus 13:10 states: "You shall observe this statute in its designated time 'mi'yamim yamima' - from year to year." "Mi'yamim yamima," is spelled with the Hebrew letters "mem yud mem yud mem" and "yud mem yud mem hey." Breaking up this phrase incorrectly, and reading every two letters as a separate word, you get "mem yud" spelling "mi" (who) four times, followed by mem hey" spelling "mah" (what).


What three characteristics do the Hebrew letters "mem" and "noon" have in common? One characteristic is shared by three other Hebrew letters (easy), one is shared by one other Hebrew letter (harder), and one is peculiar to these two (now that's hard!).

Dovid Solomon

They have two forms: middle and final. This characteristic is shared by the letters "tsadi, peh and kaf."

Their names begin and end with the same letter. This characteristic is shared by the letter "vav." (The letter "hey" is normally spelled "hey alef.")

They both require use of the nostrils to be pronounced. If you have a stuffed nose, every "man" is "bad." (see Radak in Michlol, Lyck edition, pg. 70a)


My friend told me the following Yiddle Riddle: Rabbi Yehuda Hachassid, in his famous will writes that nowadays a person should not have a mechuten (someone whose son married his daughter or vice versa) with the same name as he. What three people in the Chumash had a mechuten who had the same name as they?

Shimon Goldstein from Neve Yaakov

  • Adam (See Rashi to Bereishet 4:1 that Cain married his twin sister, thus Adam's son Cain married Adam's daughter which made Adam his own mechuten).
  • Yaakov Avinu (See Rashi to Bereishet 46:10 that Shimon married his sister Dina).
  • Lemech (See Bereishet 4 that Lemech had a daughter Na'amah, who according to the Midrash in Bereishet 23:3 was the wife of Noach, whose father was also named Lemech).

I have before me two identical pots of milk. The pots contain identical amounts of pure, unadulterated milk from one animal. Yet, if two exactly identical pieces of meat from one animal fall, one into each pot, and accidentally get cooked, one mixture becomes forbidden to eat and to sell, while the other mixture becomes forbidden only to eat, but it remains permitted to sell. Why is this?

A cow was milked and slaughtered, and after it was slaughtered, more milk was found in its udder. One pot contains the milk milked before the slaughter, and one pot contains the milk found in the udder after slaughter.

It is forbidden by the Torah to cook milk and meat together. And it is forbidden by the Torah to derive any benefit from milk and meat cooked together. However, milk found in the udder of a slaughtered animal is different; it does not come under the Torah prohibition of meat and milk. Rather, it is forbidden to cook it with meat by rabbinic decree only. And when the Sages made this decree, they decreed only regarding cooking, or eating that which was cooked, but they did not forbid selling or otherwise deriving benefit from such a mixture once it was cooked.

  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 87:6
  • Rema, ibid. 87:1 (see Shach and Taz, Ibid. See also Badei Hashulchan 87:75 who cites a dispute among the authorities, citing Tiferet Lemoshe and Rabbi Akiva Eiger who forbid even benefit; he concludes, however, that it appears one may be lenient.)

Who didn't eat or drink for upwards of 60 years?

Choni Ham'agel. The Talmud recounts the events whereby Choni Ham'agel slept for seventy years. Hence, he neither ate nor drank during that time.

Tractate Ta'anit 23a


Two baby boys were born within a week of each other. 13 years later the older boy isn't considered and adult to be counted in a minyan (quorum of ten) until a few weeks after the younger one. How can this be?

(Riddle and answer thanks to: Dani Wassner, State of Israel Ministry of Industry and Trade, Jerusalem)

In a Jewish leap year, there are two months of Adar. The 1st baby was born on 27th of Adar I (in a leap year), and the second baby was born on the 2nd of Adar II. The year of their bar mitzvah, however, is not a leap year, so the younger boy is considered a bar mitzah (adult) on the 2nd of Adar while the older boy must wait 3 weeks or so until the 27th of Adar.


I am a levi. There is one thing I have never witnessed in my entire adult life, and I never will either. Yisraelim sometimes see it, so do kohanim, but me and my fellow levi'im? Never! What is it?

(Riddle courtesy of Eliyahu Shiffman)

I am told that if there is no levi present during the Torah reading, the kohen honored by being called first to the Torah stays up and receives the second honor as well. At least that's what I've been told - I've never seen it, though, and I never will!

Stephen Phillips noted that there would appear to be a number of exceptions to this; here's one: We do not call up the Chasan Torah or Chasan Bereishis (the ones honored with ending and beginning the year's Torah reading) more than once on Simchas Torah. Therefore, if the Chasan Torah is a levi, even if he is the only levi present, he is not called up for the second aliya (reading) of Vezot HaBeracha; rather, the kohen called for the first aliyah remains there in place of a levi for the second aliyah as well. The levi is not even required to leave the synagogue for that second aliyah. (Ta'amei Haminhagim 831, in footnote citing Orchot Chayim)

Zvi Freund added that a levi could see this if it's a fast day and he is not fasting. In such a case, he would not be called up to the Torah.

Lawrence Myers commented that a levi could also have seen it if, G-d forbid, he was sitting shiva (in mourning) and no other levi was present.

(Bruce M Selznick, Richmond, VA) offered a second answer: Before the kohen blesses the congregation (on Festivals outside the Land of Israel, or daily in the Land of Israel) a levi washes the kohen's hands. If no levi is present then a bechor (first-born son) washes the kohen's hands. Thus, a levi would never witness anyone other than himself or another levi washing the kohen's hands.


The Talmud says that you say a blessing when you see a friend whom you haven't seen in a long time. As the Shulchan Aruch states: "One who sees his friend after 30 days says 'Shehechiyanu' (the happiness blessing); and after (not having seen him for) 12 months he blesses 'Mechayeh Hametim' (Blessed are You...who revives the dead)."

What is different about not seeing a friend for a year that it requires a different blessing, the blessing of the revival of the dead?

Every year on Rosh Hashana we are judged regarding whether we will live or die. So if a person hasnít seen his friend during any normal 12 month period, his friend has undergone a life or death judgment and been thus far saved from it.

  • Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 225:1
  • Mishna Berura, Ibid. 4

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Where in davening (liturgy) do you say 24 words in a row that end with the letter "chaf?"

(Riddle and answer submitted by Shlomo Zev Friedman)

In Kiddush Levana - Sanctifying the New Moon - we say the verse: "Baruch Yotzraych, Baruch Osaych, Baruch Kohnaych, Baruch Bohraych" three times.


In which weekly Parsha (Torah portion) is the number of verses equal to the numerical value of the last word of the Parsha?

(Mike Marmor, Toronto)

Parshat Vayetzei. The number of verses in Parshat Vayetzei is 148, which equals the numerical value of its last word, "machanaim."


How many times did Joshua's troops encircle the city of Jericho?

13. Joshua was commanded to encircle the city once a day for 6 days, and on the seventh day to encircle it 7 times.

(Joshua 6:3,4)

With everyone focused on the "Year 2000" computer bug, not much attention is being given to the "Year 2100" Prayer Book bug. The year 2100 marks a change which will make almost every current English siddur (Jewish Prayer Book) outdated, and require that they be changed. What is the "Year 2100" Prayer Book bug?

In the silent amidah prayer, the words "give dew and rain for a blessing" are added during the winter. The people outside Israel begin saying these words on December 4th, and once every four years they begin a day later, on December 5th. These dates are based on the Talmudic calculation of "winter" as beginning a specified period of time after the fall equinox, and are corrected every four years by adding a day - just as the civil calendar adds an extra day every four years. (This correction is necessary due to the length of the solar year being approximately 365 1/4 days. After 4 years, the extra 1/4 of a day adds up to a full day).

However, the civil calendar "skips" one leap year at the turn of every century (Y2K happens to be one of the exceptions to this). So, in the year 2100, the civil calendar will "skip" a leap year, but the Jewish calculation of the onset of winter will not change. Hence, the current prayer books which say to add "give dew and rain for a blessing" starting the 4th (or 5th) of December would in that year need to be changed to say the 5th (or 6th) of December.

The above is theoretical, as it could be affected by various factors, such as the reinstitution of the Sanhedrin (Supreme Torah Court). Anyone who has any doubts regarding actual practice should email us 100 years from now.

  • See "Festivals in Halacha," Rabbi S.Y. Zevin, Vol. II "Hashe'elah" p.42

In Hebrew, if you subtract 30 from 30 you get 60. How is this?

The numerical value of the letter lamed is 30 (each Hebrew letter has a numerical value). The Hebrew word for "thirty" is "shloshim," spelled "shin lamed shin yud mem."

So, if you take the letter lamed (which equals 30) out of the word "shloshim" (which means thirty) you get the letters "shin shin yud mem," which spells "shishim," 60!


What two Friday nights of the year is there no shalom zachor? (Shalom zachor is the Friday night celebration held in honor of the birth of a boy.)

Pesach and Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a fast day, and therefore all eating and drinking is forbidden. And on the night of Passover, it is forbidden to eat anything after eating the afikomen - the piece of matzah eaten at the end of the Passover seder. Therefore, the shalom zachor, which is usually held after the Friday evening meal, is not held on these two nights.

Michael Hochheiser from Oak Park, Michigan disagreed with this riddle and answer and wrote, "On Yom Kippur there is a "besamim (spice) shalom zachor." I attended one a few years ago. On the way home from shul (synagogue) you visit the parents' home, where they have set out various spices in silver or other spice cases. You say the bracha (blessing) over the spices "borei minei besamin (blessed is the One who creates all kinds of spices)" and wish the family mazal tov".


Can you name two different occasions when Rosh Chodesh will fall during the coming week, yet no Shabbat Mevorachim prayers are said on the preceding Shabbat?

(Riddle by Dani Wassner, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Jerusalem)

  1. (The easy one) The Shabbat before Rosh Hashana, which is the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Tishrei.

  2. When Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat and Sunday, the 1st day Rosh Chodesh is the Shabbat. Despite the fact that there will be a Rosh Chodesh that coming week (the 2nd day on Sunday), Shabbat Mevorachim will not be said on Shabbat, as they were said the previous week!

I recently learned an interesting halacha from Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum of Cleveland's Jewish Learning Connection. He suggested it might make a good "Yiddle Riddle." When, regarding the laws of prayer, is it better to forget something than to remember it? Specifically, if you omit an addition to the amida for a specific occasion -- an addition which is indeed appropriate for that occasion, you have fulfilled your obligation. But if you insert that same addition (which, as mentioned, is indeed appropriate for that occasion), you have invalidated your shemona esrei (silent amida prayer).

(Riddle by Neil Parks, Beachwood, Ohio)

The ma'ariv amida on Saturday night includes an extra paragraph for havdala (the "atah chonantanu" paragraph), but if you omit it, the amida is still valid and need not be repeated.

If you oversleep on Shabbat afternoon and miss the time for mincha (afternoon service), then you say an extra amida at ma'ariv. But the first amida must be the one for ma'ariv, and the second must be the one to make up for mincha. If you don't say havdala in either the first amida or the second amidah, both are valid. However, if you omit havdala in the first amida, and remember to say it in the second one, then the second amida becomes the one for ma'ariv, and the first amida becomes invalid retroactively. You now have to say a third one for mincha.


One day, Sam decided to go into real estate. His first, ill-fated, attempt at acquisition was a very small plot of land, only one meter square, in the middle of Jerusalem's Highway One. Sam, never one for bureaucratic details, by-passed all red tape and permit-application and simply set about with his plans to build right in the middle of the busy road. Because of these actions, Sam eventually found himself brought before a beit din (Torah Court).

It may come as a surprise to you, but the court found that, in regard to the case at hand, Sam was considered the owner of the plot of land. How can this be?

Riddle Submitted by Kol Simcha English Radio 102.8 FM Jerusalem

Sam set about with his plans to build by digging a hole. Someone fell in the hole, broke his leg, and brought Sam before a beit din charging Sam for damages.

Sam argued that, although he dug the hole, he did not own it, and the Torah states: "When a person digs a pitÖthe owner of the pit shall pay." (Shemot 21:33-4) Thus, argued Sam, a person is obligated only for a pit which he owns; for example, if he digs a pit on his own property next to public property. But for a pit which he digs on public property, said Sam, he is exempt, for he is not the owner and the damage is indirect.

The court, however, ruled according to the Talmud's explanation of the verse (Bava Kama 29b), which is that one who digs a pit on public property is considered its owner when it comes to paying for damages.

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