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Torah Teasers Parshat Shoftim

Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 )

by Moshe Erlbaum

Challenging questions for the Shabbat table.

1. What is unique about the name of this parsha?

It is the only parsha whose name is also the name of an entire book of the Bible - Shoftim, the Book of Judges.

2. Where is the first time in the Torah where officers (shotrim) are mentioned?

In parshas Shmos, officers (shotrim) supervise the slaves in Egypt (Exodus 5:6).

3. This parsha discusses the prohibition of building a monument (matzeva) to serve Hashem (Deut. 16:22). Before the Torah was given, building a monument was permitted (Rashi - Deut. 16:22). Who in the book of Genesis erected a monument two times?

In parshas Vayeitzei, Yaakov erected a monument after dreaming of angels ascending and descending the ladder (Genesis 28:18). In parshas Vayislach, Yaakov erected a second monument after Hashem changed his name to Yisrael (Genesis 32:14).

4. In this parsha, which prohibition involves horses?

A king may not acquire too many horses (Deut. 17:15).

5. Which mitzvah in this parsha is done with an animal's jaw?

Whenever an animal is slaughtered, one must give the foreleg, the stomach and the jaw to the Kohen (Deut. 18:3).

6. Which law in this parsha mentions a forest?

The Torah refers to a situation where one accidentally kills another in a forest (Deut. 19:5).

7. Which law in this parsha involves "yesterday, and the day before yesterday" (mitmol shilshom)? What other Torah law involves "yesterday, and the day before yesterday"?

Someone is regarded as an "accidental murderer" if he has shown no signs of hatred "yesterday, and the day before yesterday" (Deut. 19:4, 6). In parshas Mishpatim, the Torah says that an ox is treated as a habitual gorer (mu'ad) if it also gored "yesterday and the day before yesterday" (Exodus 21:29, 36).

8. Which law in this parsha makes mention of the number 3 - on 5 separate occasions?

The number three appears five times in the laws of refuge cities for the accidental murderer: (1-2) Three cities are to be established within the land (Deut. 19:2, 19:7). (3) The land should be divided into three parts to evenly distribute the cities (Deut. 19:3). (4-5) When the boundaries of the land are expanded, three additional cities are to be added to the three existing cities (Deut. 19:9).

9. In this parsha, where are the numbers 1, 2 and 3 found in the same verse?

The Torah states that one witness is not valid to testify; only two or three are acceptable (Deut. 19:15).

10. In this parsha, what two restrictions involve trees?

It is prohibited to plant a tree used for idolatry (ashera), or any tree next to an altar of Hashem (Deut. 16:21). During a war, only trees that do not bear fruit may be cut down (Deut. 20:19-20).



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