Challenging questions for the Shabbat table.
1. The first law in this parsha involves a "yefas to'ar" (beautiful woman) who is captured in war. Who is the only woman in the Torah specifically described as "yefas to'ar"?
In parshas Vayetzei, Rachel is described as "yefas to'ar" - "a beautiful woman" (Genesis 29:17).
2. Which part of the body is mentioned in this parsha, and nowhere else in the Torah?
The non-Jewish woman captured in war must let her fingernails grow to make her look displeasing to her captor (Deut. 21:12). Fingernails are not mentioned elsewhere in the Torah.
3. In this parsha, what part of a house is mentioned?
This parsha mentions a roof - regarding the obligation to build a fence around the roof of one's house (Deut. 22:8).
4. Where else is a roof mentioned in the Torah - but having nothing to do with a house
The "roof" of the Golden Altar is referred to in both parshas Tetzaveh (Exodus 30:3) and parshas Vayakhel (Exodus 37:26).
5. Shatnez is a garment containing wool and linen (flax). Where else in the Torah are those two fabrics mentioned in the same verse?
In parshas Tazria, wool and linen are mentioned as the two fabrics that can constitute tzara'as on clothing (Leviticus 13:47).
6. Where in this parsha is a garment (simlah) mentioned? (5 answers)
(1) The captured woman must remove "the garments she is wearing when captured" (Deut. 21:13). (2) A garment is an example of a lost object that must be returned to its rightful owner (22:3). (3) A man is prohibited to wear a "woman's garment" (22:5). (4) When a newly-married woman is accused of adultery, the Torah uses the expression "spread out the garment," meaning that the matter should be fully investigated (22:17 with Rashi). (5) A creditor must return the collateral of a poor debtor if it is needed at night- e.g. "the garment he sleeps in" (24:13).
7. Where in this parsha do bread and water appear in the same verse?
Amonite and Moabite men may not marry Jewish women. This is because these nations did not greet the Jews with bread and water when the Jews left Egypt (Deut. 23:5).
8. Which law in this parsha involves a shovel?
In addition to his weapons, a soldier who goes out to war must carry a small shovel (for bathroom purposes) (Deut. 23:14).
9. Which law in this parsha involves a dog? Which other law in the Torah involves a dog?
A sheep that was traded for a dog (mechir kelev) may not be brought as an offering (Deut. 23:19). In parshas Mishpatim, the Torah states that torn flesh (basar treifa) must not be eaten, but rather thrown to the dogs (Exodus 22:30).
10. Which two of the six "zechirot" - the events we are required to remember (found in most prayer books after the morning service) - are mentioned in this parsha?
We are to remember what Hashem did to Miriam when the Jews left Egypt (Deut. 24:19). We must remember what Amalek did to the Jews when they left Egypt (25:17).
11. Which two laws in this parsha involve forgetting?
A bundle that is forgotten in the field must be left for the poor. We are commanded not to forget what Amalek did to the Jews when they left Egypt (Deut. 25:19).
12. Where in this parsha is the number 40 found?
Certain crimes are punished with 40 lashes (Deut. 25:3). [The Talmud explains that only 39 lashes are actually given (Makos 22a).]
13. Which law in this parsha involves spitting? In what two other places does the Torah mention spitting?
When a childless widow is not married by her husband's brother, they undergo a procedure called chalitza
, whereby she spits in front of him (Deut. 25:9).
In parshas Metzora, the Torah states that if someone with the impurity of zav spits on someone else, that will cause the other person (and his clothes) to become ritually impure (Leviticus 15:8). At the end of parshas Beha'alosecha, Miriam is punished with leprosy for seven days. The logic given is that if a father were to spit in front of his daughter, she would be ashamed for seven days. So too, Miriam is isolated for seven days (Numbers 25:19).