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Torah Teasers Parshat Mishpatim

Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24 )

by Moshe Erlbaum

10 challenging questions.

1. In this parsha, which law refers to a door? What incident in the Book of Genesis mentions a door?

If a Jewish slave wishes to work more than six years, his ear must be pierced near a door (Exodus 21:6). In parshas Vayera, when Lot closes the door behind the angels who come to visit, the people of Sodom try to break down the door (Genesis 19:6, 9, 10).

2. Which person in the Torah is specifically referred to as "the Hebrew slave"?

In parshas Vayeshev, the wife of Potiphar refers to Yosef as "the Hebrew slave" (Genesis 39:17).

3. In this parsha, which two laws mention a tooth?

The verse states "a tooth for a tooth": one must pay for the value of a tooth which one knocks out of another's mouth (Exodus 21:24). Further, a master must set his non-Jewish servant free if he had knocked out the servant's tooth (Exodus 21:27).

4. In this parsha, where do the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 appear? (for some numbers, there are multiple answers)

1) Hashem says that He will not expel the nations in one year, to prevent animals from overrunning the deserted areas (23:29). 2) A thief must return two times (double) the value of an object he stole (22:3, 6, 8) 3) If a master (or his son) chooses to marry a Jewish maidservant, he has three marital responsibilities toward her (21:11). Also, ascending to Jerusalem is required on three holidays (23:14, 17). 4) If a thief steals a sheep and then sells it or slaughters it, he must pay the owner back four times its value (21:37). 5) If a thief steals an ox and then sells it or slaughters it, he must pay the owner back five times its value (21:37). 6) A Jewish slave goes free after six years (21:2). Also, in the laws of the Sabbatical year, the Torah states: "Six years you will sow your land" (23:10). Also, the Torah states: "Six days a week one should complete all his work" and rest on the Sabbath (23:12). Also, the cloud of Hashem covered Mount Sinai for six days (24:16). 7) The laws of the Sabbatical year require that the land rests every seventh year (23:11). Also, the laws of Shabbat demand that one rest on the seventh day (23:12). Also, at the end of the parsha, Hashem calls to Moshe from the cloud that rested on Mount Sinai on the seventh day (24:16). 8) A sacrifice is only valid after it is eight days old (22:29).

5. In this parsha, which law involves the number 30?

If an ox gores and kills a non-Jewish slave, the owner of the ox must pay the master of the slave 30 shekels as compensation (Exodus 21:32).

6. In this parsha, several laws pertain to the treatment of a widow. Who in the Torah is actually referred to as a widow?

In parshas Vayeshev, Tamar is called a widow after the death of her second husband, Onan (Genesis 16:14).

7. Which insect appears in this parsha?

The Torah states that the hornet (tzireh) will be sent before the Jews to drive away the enemy (Exodus 23:28).

8. What precious stone is mentioned in this parsha? Where else in the Torah is that same precious stone mentioned?

The sapphire stone is mentioned as being beneath the legs of Hashem on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:10). In parshas Teztaveh, the sapphire was one of the 12 stones to be placed on the breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:18).

9. In what two contexts is fire mentioned in this parsha?

Fire is mentioned with regards to a person damaging property via fire (Exodus 22:5). Fire is part of the description of Mount Sinai during the giving of the Torah (Exodus 24:17).

10. In this parsha, which two laws refer to the sun?

With regards to the law of a thief who breaks into a home (haba bemachteres), the Torah states: "If the sun shines on him [and he is discovered]", he must pay for what he stole (Exodus 22:2) Also, the Torah states that a creditor must return the night garment taken as collateral from an impoverished borrower "before the setting of the sun" (Exodus 22:25).

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