11 great Torah Teasers.
1. Yaakov lived in Egypt for 17 years. Where else in the book of Genesis is 17 years referred to?
Parshas Vayeshev begins when Yosef is 17 years old (Genesis 37:2).
2. What similar ailment occurs to both Yitzhak and to Yaakov?
Both Yitzhak and Yaakov had trouble with their eyesight during old age (Genesis 27:1, 48:10).
3. Where is a bed mentioned in this parsha? (4 answers)
At the beginning of the parsha, Yaakov's bed is mentioned three times: Yaakov bows by the head of the bed (Genesis 47:31); Yaakov strengthens himself to sit up on the bed (Genesis 48:2); in that same verse, Yaakov gathers his legs to the bed before dying. The fourth time a bed is mentioned is in the blessing given to Reuven, in reference to his moving of Yaakov's bed after the death of Rachel (Genesis 49:4).
4. Which two pairs of brothers are mentioned in the same verse?
Ephraim and Menashe, and Reuven and Shimon, are all mentioned in the same verse (Genesis 48:1).
5. Where in this parsha does one person place his hand upon the head of another? Where else in the Torah does it say explicitly that one person places his hand on another? (2 answers)
Yaakov places his hands on the heads of Ephraim and Menashe when giving them a blessing (Genesis 48:14). In Leviticus 24:14, witnesses who heard someone curse Hashem place their hand on his head before executing him. In Numbers 27:23, Moshe rests his hands on Yehoshua to transfer the leadership.
6. In what context are fish mentioned in this parsha?
In the blessing to Ephraim and Menashe, the verse states "And they should multiply like fish in the midst of the land" (Genesis 48:16).
7. Where in this parsha is the same person mentioned twice in a verse, but referred to by different names?
In the same verse, Yaakov is referred to both by the name Yaakov and by the name Yisrael (Genesis 49:2).
8. Which animals appear in the blessings to the sons of Yaakov? (10 answers)
The following animals appear in the blessings: Ox in the blessing of Shimon and Levi (Genesis 49:2); lion and lioness in the blessing of Yehudah (Genesis 49:9); two names for donkey, also in the blessing of Yehudah (Genesis 49:11); donkey in the blessing of Yissachar (Genesis 49:14); snake and horse in the blessing of Dan (Genesis 49:17); deer in the blessing of Naftali (Genesis 49:21); wolf in the blessing of Benyamin (Genesis 49:27).
9. Which beverages are referred to in Yaakov's blessings to his sons? (3 answers)
Water is referred to in the blessing of Reuven (Genesis 49:4). Milk and wine are referred to in the blessing of Yehudah (Genesis 49:12).
10. What location appears in this parsha and is not mentioned anywhere else in Tanach?
The eulogy for Yaakov took place in Goren Ha'atad (Genesis 50:10-11). This place does not appear anywhere else in Tanach.
11. Which people appear in this parsha who are not descendants of Avraham? (3 answers)
Efron (Genesis 49:29), Mamre (Genesis 49:30), and Pharaoh (Genesis 50:4) are mentioned in this parsha. They are not descendants of Avraham.