Parsha Q&A - Bamidbar

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Parsha Q&A

Parshas Bamidbar

For the week ending 29 Iyar 5756; 17 & 18 May 1996

  • Parsha Questions
  • Bonus Question
  • I Did Not Know That!
  • Recommended Reading List
  • Answers to Parsha Questions
  • Answer to Bonus Question
  • Back issues of Parsha Q&A
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  • Parsha Questions

    1. How were the Jewish People counted?
    2. What was the minimum age for drafting someone?
    3. Why was the Tribe of Levi not counted with the rest of the Jewish People?
    4. How far away from the Ohel Mo'ed did the individual tribes encamp, and why this distance?
    5. What was the signal for the camp to travel?
    6. In what formation did the Jewish People travel in the desert?
    7. Why does the Torah call the sons of Aaron the "sons of Aaron and Moshe"?
    8. Why did the Levi'im receive a tithe ("ma'aser rishon")?
    9. Why were the Levi'im chosen to serve in the Ohel Mo'ed?
    10. Why were the Levi'im counted only after the age of one month?
    11. Name one member of the tribe of Levi who was counted at birth.
    12. Who assisted Moshe in counting the Levi'im?
    13. What negative influence did the family of Kehas have on its neighbors?
    14. What positive influence did Moshe have on his neighbors?
    15. Which descendant of Levi was not numbered along with the Levi'im?
    16. In verse 3:39, the Torah states that the total number of Levi'im was 22,000. The actual number of Levi'im was 22,300. Why does the Torah ignore 300 Levi'im?
    17. The firstborn males of the Jewish People were redeemed for five shekels which was equal to twenty pieces of silver. What other firstborn had previously been valued at this price?
    18. There were 22,000 Levi'im who were an "exchange" for the firstborn. There were 22,273 firstborn among the other Tribes. The remaining 273 redeemed themselves by paying five shekels. How did Moshe determine which of the first-born had to pay?
    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?

    Bonus Question
    At the conclusion of the census (1:44-46), the Torah emphasizes three times that the Jewish People were "numbered." Why?

    I Did Not Know That!

    The Nasi of the Tribe of Shimon, Shlumiel ben Tzorishadi (1:6), appears in the Torah in two other places under different names. He was Shaul ben Canaanis, who entered Egypt as one of the 70 souls (Bereishis 46:10). Also, he was Zimri ben Salo, who was killed by Pinchas at the end of Parshas Balak.
    Sanhedrin 82b

    Recommended Reading List

    Introduction to Bamidbar
    The Draft Age
    The Reason for Counting
    The Organization of the Camp
    The Levi'im
    The Role of Elazar ben Aaron

    Ibn Ezra
    Organization of the Camp

    Introduction to Bamidbar

    Answers to this Week's Questions

    Questions | Contents

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

    1. 1:2 - Each person donated a half-shekel (see Shemos 38:26).
    2. 1:3 - Twenty years old.
    3. 1:49 - Since they were "separated" for service in the Mishkan they were counted separately. Also, those who were "numbered" would die in the desert, and Levi'im were not to punished since they did not participate in the sin of the golden calf.
    4. 2:2 - 1 mil [approx. 2000 amos], the permitted distance for travel on Shabbos. This allowed them to go there on Shabbos.
    5. 2:9 - The cloud over the Ohel Mo'ed would depart, and the Kohanim would blow the trumpets.
    6. 2:9 - In the formation in which they encamped.
    7. 3:1 - Because Moshe taught them Torah.
    8. 3:8 - The Levi'im served in the Mishkan in place of everyone else, and received tithes as "payment".
    9. 3:12 - Since the Levi'im did not sin with the golden calf, they were chosen to replace the firstborns who did sin and were thereby disqualified.
    10. 3:15 - A child is not known to be viable until it has lived thirty days.
    11. 3:15 - Yoceved, the daughter of Levi, was born while the Jewish People were entering the gates of Egypt. She is counted as one of the seventy souls who entered Egypt.
    12. 3:16 - The Shechina.
    13. 3:29 - Their proximity to the Tribe of Reuven led some of the Reuvenites to become involved in the rebellion of Korach.
    14. 3:38 - Moshe camped in the East, adjacent to the Tribes of Yehuda, Yissachar, and Zevulun. Many from these Tribes became great Torah scholars.
    15. 3:39 - Aaron HaKohen.
    16. 3:39 - The Levi'im were being counted in order that they might be used to redeem the firstborn of the Jewish People. Since 300 Levi'im were themselves first born, they could not be used to redeem others. Thus, the Torah didn't include them.
    17. 3:46 - Yosef, Rachel's firstborn, was sold by his brothers for 20 pieces of silver (Bereishis 37:28).
    18. 3:50 - By lottery.
    19. 4:2 - Between the ages of 30 and 50 years old.
    20. 4:5 - The Kohanim.

    Bonus Question
    To stress that the census served three distinct purposes. They were:
    1. To determine who was fit for military service
    2. To publicize Hashem's greatness, that from 70 souls who entered Egypt, He created a nation of over 600,000
    3. To allow Moshe and Aaron the opportunity to bless each member of the Jewish People individually
    Ksav Sofer

    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Eliyahu Kane
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Lev Seltzer
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