Challenging questions for the Shabbat table.
1. In this parsha, what location shares a name with a close relative of the matriarch Rivka?
One of the locations listed in Deut. 1:1 is Lavan, which is also the name of Rivka's brother (Genesis 24:29).
2. Which three metals are alluded to in this parsha?
One of the locations mentioned in Deut. 1:1 is "Di Zahav," which means "gold" in Hebrew. The bed of Og is described as having been fashioned out of iron (Deut. 3:11). The Jews offer to buy food and water from surrounding nations with "kesef" - "silver" (Deut. 6:28).
3. In what two contexts is the number 11 mentioned?
The Jews are an 11-day journey from Chorev (Deut. 1:2). Moshe gives a speech which occurs in the 11th month of the year (Deut. 1:3).
4. In what two contexts is the number 1,000 mentioned?
Moshe blesses the Jews that Hashem should increase them "one thousand fold" (Deut. 1:11). Moshe describes how he needs assistance to lead the Jews, and appoints various judges, including "leaders of thousands" (Deut. 1:15).
5. In this parsha, which foreign nation is referred to 11 times? Which foreign land is mentioned 12 times?
The nation of Emori appears 11 times. The country of Bashan is mentioned 12 times.
6. In this parsha, which nation is compared to an insect? Where else in the Torah are a group of people compared to insects?
The people of Emor are compared to bees, in the manner they attacked the Jews who attempted to enter the land of Canaan following the incident of the spies (Deut. 1:44). In parshas Shlach, the spies compare themselves to grasshoppers, in relation to the giants who lived in Canaan (Numbers 13:33).
7. Which person is mentioned in this parsha, for the first time since parshas Vayera? Who is mentioned for the first time since parshas Vayishlach?
Lot appears for the first time since parshas Vayera (Deut. 2:9). Esav is referenced multiple times in this parsha, for the first time since parshas Vayishlach (Deut. 2:4).
8. Where is snow alluded to in this parsha?
The verse states that the Emorites called Mount Chermon by the name "shenir" (Deut. 3:9). Rashi states that shenir means "snow" in Germanic and Canaanite languages. Interestingly, Mount Chermon today is covered with snow at its high elevation areas.
9. What four places in this parsha does someone say, "Do not fear"?
1) Just prior to the sending of the spies, Moshe tells the Jews not to fear taking possession of the land of Israel (Deut. 1:21). 2) Hashem tells Moshe not to fear fighting Og, the king of Bashan (Deut. 3:2). 3) Moshe commands Yehoshua not to fear the kings in Canaan (Deut. 3:22). 4) When Moshe appoints judges, he tells them not to fear anyone (Deut. 1:16).
10. What three places in the book of Genesis does Hashem tell someone, "Do not fear"?
1) In parshas Lech Lecha, Hashem tells Avraham not to fear since He will protect him and bless him (Genesis 15:1). 2) In parshas Toldos, Hashem encourages Yitzchak with the words, "Do not fear," after Yitzchak has several disputes with the Pelishtim over the wells (Genesis. 26:24). 3) In parshas Vayigash, Hashem assures Yaakov on his way down to Egypt not to fear leaving Canaan (Genesis 46:3).
11. Which seven names of the 24 books of the scriptures are found in this parsha?
Devarim (Deut. 1:1), Numbers (Deut. 1:1), Eicha (Deut. 1:12), Yehoshua (Deut. 1:38), Vayikra (Deut. 3:14), and Melachim (Deut. 3:21). Shneim Asar (Trei Asar) (Deut. 1:23, see Bava Basra 14b).