Challenging questions for the Shabbat table.
1. (a) Which offering mentioned in this parsha contains barley? (b) Aside from that, in what other three contexts is barley explicitly mentioned in the Torah? (c) Which other grain offering do the Sages explain was made out of barley, rather than wheat?
(a) The offering of the woman accused of adultery (sotah) is from barley (Numbers 5:15). (b) In parshas Va'era, the plague of hail harmed the barley crop (Exodus 9:31). In parshas Bechukosai, the value of a field donated to the Temple is stated in terms of "seeded with barley" (Leviticus 27:17). In parshas Ekev, barley is listed together as one of the seven species of the Land of Israel (Deut. 8:8). (c) The Omer offering, brought on the second day of Passover, is made of barley (Leviticus 23:16 with Rashi).
2. Who in this parsha must answer "Amen Amen"? Where else in the biblical writings do people answer "Amen Amen"?
he woman accused of adultery (sotah) must answer "Amen Amen" to demonstrate her understanding of the potential consequence of her actions (Numbers 5:22). In the book of Nechemia, Ezra the scribe read from the Torah on Rosh Hashanah; after his blessing, the nation answered "Amen Amen" (Nechemia 8:6).
3. Which part of the body appears three times in this parsha? In the book of Genesis, what three places does this body part appear?
It is stated three different times that the stomach of a woman found guilty of adultery swells as a punishment (Numbers 5:21, 22, 27). The stomach appears in three contexts in the book of Genesis: In parshas Toldos, Rivka's prophecy concerning her pregnancy includes the words, "There are two nations in your stomach" (Genesis 25:23). (The next verse states explicitly that she has twins in her stomach/womb.) In parshas Vayeitzei, when Rachel complains to Yaakov that she has no children, Yaakov responds: "Am I in God's stead, who has withheld from you the fruits of the stomach?" (Genesis 30:2). In parshas Vayeishev, when Tamar was ready to give birth, there were "twins in her stomach" (Genesis 38:27).
4. A nazir is prohibited from eating any grape products. What two places in the Torah does someone pick grapes from the vine?
In parshas Vayeshev, Pharaoh's chief butler has a dream where he picks grapes and makes wine for Pharaoh (Genesis 40:11). In parshas Shlach, the spies bring grapes back from the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:23).
5. Who is the only biblical personality to actually be called a nazir?
Shimshon is the only biblical personality actually called a nazir (Judges 13:5). Although the prophet Shmuel was also a nazir from birth (as his mother Chana vowed that "a razor shall not arise on his head" - 1-Shmuel 1:11), he was never actually called a "nazir."
6. A nazir is forbidden to use a razor on his head (Numbers 6:5). Which people in the book of Numbers must shave with a razor?
In parshas Beha'slosecha, the Levites are required to shave their entire body with a razor as part of their initiation into the Temple service (Numbers 8:7).
7. In this parsha, which two sons of Yaakov are not mentioned in the context of the offerings of the tribal leaders?
Yosef is not mentioned since his tribe is split into the tribes of Ephraim and Menashe. Levi is not mentioned because his tribal leader did not bring an offering in this parsha.
8. In what context is a ladle mentioned in this parsha?
Each of the tribal leaders brings a golden ladle filled with incense (Numbers 7:14).
9. In this parsha, which number appears four times in one verse?
The number 12 appears four times in one verse: the gifts of the tribal leaders include 12 bulls, 12 rams, 12 year-old sheep, and 12 male goats (Numbers 7:87).