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Torah Teasers Parshat Ki Tavo

Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8 )

by Moshe Erlbaum

Challenging questions for the Shabbat table.

1. In this parsha, which four consecutive verses are read on a holiday - but not in the synagogue?

The verses beginning with the words "Arami Oved Avi" (Deut. 26:5-8) are read at the Passover Seder.

2. What item is mentioned in this parsha four times - but nowhere else in the Torah?

A fruit basket (teneh) is mentioned four times in this parsha: (1) Pilgrims place their first-fruits in a basket, and bring it to the Holy Temple. (2) The priest then takes the basket and places it near the Altar (Deut. 26:2, 4). (3-4) In the list of blessings and curses, the fruit basket is mentioned twice, as an indicator whether the Jewish people are following the Torah (Deut. 28:5, 17).

3. Where is plaster instructed to be used?

When the Jews cross the Jordan River, they are to set up huge stones, coat them with plaster (Deut. 27:2), and then write upon them all the words of the Torah.

4. Besides this parsha, where else does the Torah record lengthy words of rebuke (tochacha)?

A lengthy tochacha is also found in parshas Bechokosai (Leviticus 26:27-43).

5. Where in this parsha is a "tail" referred to? (2 answers)

One of the blessings for Jews following the Torah is to be "as a head and not a tail" (Deut. 28:13). The reverse is also stated: our enemy can be "as a head, and you (the Jews) will be as a tail" (28:44).

6. Which metal is mentioned three times in this parsha?

Iron is mentioned three times: (1) The stones of an altar cannot be cut with iron (Deut. 27:5). (2) The rebuke states that the Land of Israel will be as iron (28:23). (3) The rebuke also states that enemies will place an iron yoke around the neck of the Jews (28:48).

7. In this parsha, which of the Ten Plagues are mentioned in the lengthy words of rebuke (tochacha)? (3 answers)

These plagues are mentioned: pestilence (dever) (Deut. 28:21), boils (shechin) (28:27, 35), and locusts (arbeh) (28:38).

8. What response is stated 12 times in this parsha - and only one other time in the Torah?

When the Jews enter the Land of Israel and declare each of the 12 curses, the nation is to respond "Amen" (Deut. 27:15-26). The response of "Amen" appears only one other time - in parshas Naso, when an alleged adulteress is told about the dire consequences of her actions, she responds "Amen Amen" (Numbers 5:22).

9. a) What four-word phrase is used three times in this parsha to describe the land of Canaan? b) To whom does Hashem first describe the land of Canaan with that expression? c) What other land is described with this expression?

a) The land of Canaan is referred to as "a land flowing with milk and honey"(Deut. 26:9, 15 and 27:3). b) Hashem uses this description with Moshe at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:8). c) In parshas Korach, Dasan and Aviram refer to Egypt as a "land flowing with milk and honey" (Numbers 16:13).

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