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Torah Teasers Parshat Chukat

Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1 )

by Moshe Erlbaum

Challenging questions for the Shabbat table.

1. In this parsha, which two places is the color red mentioned? Where is the first time the Torah mentions the color red? Where is the second time?

This parsha begins with the laws of the red heifer (Numbers 19:2), and later Moshe sends messengers to the king of Edom ("red") for permission to pass through his land (Numbers 20:14). The first time the Torah mentions the color red is in parshas Toldos, where the newborn Esav is described as "red" - admoni (Genesis 25:24). A few verses later, Yaakov cooks a dish of red-colored food (Genesis 25:30).

2. In this parsha, which set of laws is introduced with the words, "This is the decree of the Torah"? Which other law in the book of Numbers is introduced with those same words, "This is the decree of the Torah"?

The laws of the red heifer are introduced with these words (Numbers 19:2). In parshas Matos, the laws of kashering utensils are introduced with these same words (Numbers 31:21).

3. In this parsha, which process requires the burning of three items: cedar wood, hyssop and crimson wool? What other purification process requires the same three items? And where else in the Torah was a hyssop used?

These three items were burned along with the red heifer, as part of the purification from contact with the dead (Numbers 19:6). In parshas Metzora, the purification from tzara'as (skin disease) requires these same ingredients. In parshas Bo, the Jews are commanded to smear the blood of the Passover offering on their doorposts, using a bundle of hyssop (Exodus 12:22).

4. Which two deaths are recorded in this parsha?

The deaths of Miriam and Aharon, Moshe's two siblings, are recorded in this parsha (Numbers 20:28, 20:1).

5. Which three of the seven species of the Land of Israel are mentioned in this parsha? Where in the Torah are figs mentioned, without any of the other seven species?

When the Jews complain that they have no water, they also complain that they were brought into the desert which is "not a place of ... fig, grape or pomegranate" (Numbers 20:5). In parshas Bereishis, Adam and Chava fashion clothing out of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).

6. In this parsha, Moshe produced water from a stone. Where else in the Torah does Moshe produce water from a stone? What is the difference between the ways the two stones are referred to?

In parshas Beshalach, Moshe also produced water from a stone (Exodus 17:6). In parshas Beshalach the stone is called a tzur; in this parsha is called a sela (Numbers 20:11).

7. In this parsha, what location contains the Hebrew letter hey three times?

Hor Hahar, the burial place of Aharon, contains the letter hey three times (Numbers 20:22).

8. In this parsha, in what context does the number 30 appear?

All of the Jews mourn for 30 days following the death of Aharon (Numbers 20:29).

9. In this parsha, regarding what item does Hashem command Moshe to: "Make for yourself" (aseh lecha)? Where else in the Torah does Hashem command Moshe with these same words? And who else in the Torah is commanded by Hashem with these words?

In this parsha, Moshe is commanded to "Make for yourself a fiery serpent" (Numbers 21:8). In parshas Beha'alosecha, Moshe is commanded to "Make for yourself two silver trumpets" (Numbers 10:2). In parshas Noach, Noach is commanded o "Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood" (Genesis 6:14

10. Which creature appears in this parsha, and also in parshas Bereishis?

In this parsha, snakes attack the Jews (Numbers 21:6). In parshas Bereishis, the snake entices Chava to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 3:1).

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