Torah Teasers Parshat Pinchas

June 23, 2013

3 min read


Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1 )

10 challenging questions.

1. In this parsha, what letter is written in a way that would usually render a Torah scroll invalid?

The letter vav of the word shalom (Numbers 25:12) is split. Although this would ordinarily render the entire scroll invalid, in this instance it is required (Talmud - Kidushin 66b).

2. Which Jews mentioned in this parsha died in the desert on account of their sins? (7 people)

Zimri (Numbers 25:14), Dasan and Aviram (26:9-10), Korach (26:10), Nadav (26:61), Avihu (26:61) and Tzelafchad (27:1-3) all died in the desert on account of their sins. (Additionally, Moshe and Aharon died in the desert due to their actions at the "waters of Meriva" -Numbers 20:12.)

3. Which two first cousins have the same name?

One of the sons of Shimon (Numbers 26:19) and one of the sons of Yehuda are both named Zerach.

4. Which two of Yaakov's granddaughters are mentioned in this parsha?

Serach the daughter of Asher (Numbers 26:46) and Yocheved the daughter of Levi (26:59) both appear in this parsha.

5. In this parsha, regarding which two people does the Torah state that they died in the land of Canaan?

The Torah states that the two eldest sons of Yehuda, Er and Onan, died in the land of Canaan (Numbers 26:19).

6. In this parsha, regarding which group of people does Torah state "they did not die?"

The Torah states explicitly that "the sons of Korach did not die" (Numbers 26:11).

7. In this parsha, which verse contains the names of 11 different people?

These names all appear in Numbers 27:1: Tzelafchad, Chefer, Gilaad, Machir, Menashe, Yosef, Machla, Noah, Chagla, Milca, Tirtza.

8. In this parsha, what law is Moshe unaware of, leading him to consult with Hashem about what to do? What other three laws in the Torah does Moshe not know?

According to the simple reading, Moshe did not know which relative inherits a person who dies with surviving daughters, but no sons (Numbers 27:5). Elsewhere in the Torah, Moshe did not know (1) the laws of Pesach Sheni (Numbers 9:6-8), (2) the punishment given to the Shabbat wood-gatherer (Numbers 15:32-36), and (3) the punishment given to the one who curses Hashem (Leviticus 24:11-12). Only regarding inheritance did Moshe actually ask Hashem; in the other cases Hashem informed Moshe of the law as soon as it became clear that Moshe did not know it.

9. In this parsha, where does the typical phrase, "Hashem spoke to Moshe saying" appear, but in a different order?

In Numbers 27:15, when Moshe asks Hashem to appoint a worthy successor to lead the Jews, his request is introduced with the words, "Moshe spoke to Hashem saying." This is the only place in the Torah where this language is found.

10. In what context is a shepherd mentioned in this parsha?

When Moshe asks Hashem to appoint a worthy successor, he reasons that the Jews should not be left "like a flock of sheep without a shepherd" (Numbers 27:17).

11. Which offering must be brought "in its set time" (bemo'ado)? What other offering must be brought "in its set time"?

The daily offering (Tamid) must be brought "in its set time" (Numbers 28:2). The Passover lamb, mentioned in parshas Beha'alosecha, also must to brought "in its set time" (Numbers 9:2).
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