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Torah Teasers Parshat Matot

Matot (Numbers 30:2-32:42 )

by Moshe Erlbaum

Challenging questions for the Shabbat table.

1. This parsha discusses the laws of vows. In what two places does the Torah record someone taking a vow (neder)?

In parshas Vayetzei, Yaakov vowed to build a House of God at the place where he slept, and to give one-tenth of all that he owns to God (Genesis 28:20). In parshas Chukas, when the Jews faced an unknown enemy, they vowed to consecrate all the spoils of war (Numbers 21:2).

2. What object, fashioned previously in the book of Numbers, is used in this parsha?

The trumpets were fashioned in parshas Beha'alosecha (Numbers 10:2) and are used in this parsha (Numbers 31:6).

3. In this parsha, who is described as having a "powerful mouth," but is killed by the sword?

Bilaam has a "powerful mouth," with the ability to bless and to curse (Numbers 22:6), but is killed by the sword (Numbers 31:8).

4. Which king of Midian has the same name as a person, who according to the Sages, is a nephew of Moshe?

One of the kings of Midian is named Chur. According to the Sages, Chur is the son of Miriam and thus the nephew of Moshe (Rashi - Exodus 17:10, Talmud - Sotah 11b).

5. In this parsha, who is described as "getting angry" (vayik'tzof)? What four other places - once each in the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy - does the Torah describe someone as "getting angry"?

In this parsha, when the Jewish army returned from fighting Midian and brought back female captives, "Moshe got angry" (vayik'tzof) with the commanders of the army (Numbers 31:14). In parshas Vayeshev, Pharaoh got angry at the Butler and Baker, throwing them in jail (Genesis 40:2). In parshas Beshalach, Moshe got angry at the men who left over manna from one day to the next (Exodus 16:20). In parshas Shmini, Moshe got angry at Elazar and Itamar for not eating from the offering after the death of their brothers, Nadav and Avihu (Leviticus 10:16). In parshas Devarim, Moshe recounted how God got angry at the nation following the report of the spies (Deut. 1:34).

6. In this parsha, which 6 metals are explicitly mentioned in the same verse?

Utensils made from gold, silver, lead, copper, iron, and tin were brought back from the war with Midian (Numbers 31:22).

7. In this parsha, what law involves fire and water?

The verse states that to kasher any utensil that was used with fire, it must be passed through fire, whereas those not used with fire may be kashered with water (Numbers 31:23).

8. In this parsha, what is divided in half?

The captured spoils of the war are divided, with half going to the soldiers who fought in battle, and half to the entire nation (Numbers 31:27).

9. In this parsha, which five types of jewelry all appear in the same verse?

Army commanders bring an offering consisting of five types of jewelry acquired in the war: anklet, bracelet, ring, earring, and clasp (Numbers 31:50).

10. In this parsha, which verse contain the names of nine different cities?

When the tribes of Reuven and Gad request to receive their share of land on the east bank of the Jordan River, they mention nine cities: Ataros, Divon, Yazer, Nimra, Cheshbon, Elaleh, Sevam, Nevo and Beon (Numbers 32:3).

11. In this parsha, which two people name a city after themselves?

Both Yair ben Menashe and Novach build cities that are named after themselves (Numbers 32:41-42).

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