Parsha Q&A - Parshat Bamidbar
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- Why were the Jewish People counted so frequently?
- What documents did the people bring when they were counted?
- What determined the color of the tribal flags?
- What is the difference between an "ot" and a "degel"?
- How do we see that the Jews in the time of Moshe observed "techum Shabbat" -- the prohibition against traveling more than 2000 amot on Shabbat?
- What was the signal for the camp to travel?
- What was the sum total of the counting of the 12 tribes?
- Why are Aharon's sons called "sons of Aharon and Moshe?"
- Who was Nadav's oldest son?
- Which two people from the Book of Esther does Rashi mention in this week's Parsha?
- Why did the levi'im receive ma'aser rishon?
- Which groups of people were counted from the age of one month?
- Name the first descendant of Levi in history to be counted as an infant.
- Who assisted Moshe in counting the levi'im?
- Why did so many people from the tribe of Reuven support Korach in his campaign against Moshe?
- Why did so many people from the tribes of Yehuda, Yissachar, and Zevulun become great Torah scholars?
- 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?
- The firstborn males of the Jewish People were redeemed for five shekalim. Why five shekalim?
- During what age-span is a man considered at his full strength?
- As the camp was readying itself for travel, who was in charge of covering the vessels of the Mishkan in preparation for transport?
(kasha means "question")
Question: The Tribe of Levi was the smallest tribe? Why?
Answer: Concerning the period of enslavement of the Jewish People in Egypt, the Torah states, "as they afflicted them, so they multiplied" (Shemot 1:12). The Jewish People reproduced miraculously, in direct proportion to the degree in which they were afflicted. Since the Tribe of Levi was not enslaved in Egypt, they reproduced in natural proportions.
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When Yaakov blessed his sons at the end of his life, he hinted that the tribes of Reuven, Yehuda, Yosef and Dan would lead the four flag-camps. Anyone whom Yaakov addressed in the second person -- "you" -- became the head of a flag-camp. Reuven: "You are my firstborn"; Yehuda: "You, will your brothers acknowledge"; Yosef: "From the G-d of your father"; Dan: "For your salvation I long."
Ba'al Haturim 2:2
All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated
1:1 - They are very dear to Hashem.
1:18 - They brought birth records proving their tribal lineage.
2:2 - Each tribe's flag was the color of that tribe's stone in the breastplate of the kohen gadol.
2:2 - An "ot" is a flag, i.e., a colored cloth that hangs from a flagpole. A degel is a flagpole.
2:2 - Hashem commanded them to camp no more than 2000 amot from the Ohel Mo'ed. Had they camped farther, it would have been forbidden for them to go to the Ohel Mo'ed on Shabbat.
2:9 - The cloud over the Ohel Mo'ed departed and the kohanim sounded the trumpets.
2:32 - 603,550.
3:1 - Since Moshe taught them Torah, it's as if he gave birth to them.
3:4 - Nadav had no children.
3:7 - Bigtan and Teresh.
3:8 - Since the levi'im served in the Mishkan in place of everyone else, they received tithes as "payment."
3:15, 40 - The levi'im, and the firstborn of B'nei Yisrael.
3:15 - Levi's daughter Yocheved was born while the Jewish People were entering Egypt. She is counted as one of the 70 people who entered Egypt.
3:16 - Hashem
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.
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
3:39 - Each levi served to redeem a firstborn of the Jewish People. Since 300 levi'im were themselves first born, they themselves needed to be redeemed, and could therefore not redeem others.
3:46 - To atone for the sale of Yosef, Rachel's firstborn, who was sold by his brothers for five shekalim (20 pieces of silver.)
4:2 - Between the ages of 30 and 50.
4:5 - The kohanim.
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