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Parshat Bha'alotcha - Questions for Self Study

Questions for the Shabbat Table
Questions for Shiur Preparation
Questions on Parshanut

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'
1. Most probably you have read the first pasuk of Bha'alotcha many times.
We usually translate this pasuk as:

"...When you go up to light the Menorah..." (8:2)
Is this an exact translation?
What would be a more precise translation?
[In other words - what does "neyr" mean?]
Now, read Shmot 25:31-38, especially 25:36-37.
What is the precise definition of "neyrot" according to these psukim?
[See Rashi on 25:37!]
How does this relate to the pasuk that describes the Menorah as "mikshah" [made from one piece of gold] in Bamidbar 8:4?
Are the "neyrot" part of this "miksheh" or are they separate?
From a technical standpoint, how did the kohen light the Menorah each day [i.e. how did he set up the wicks and oil in the candles? what did the candle look like? etc.]?
[See also Ibn Ezra and Chizkuni on this pasuk.]

2. In chapter 11, as Bnei Yisrael begin their journey from Har Sinai, Moshe Rabbeinu is very angered by the people's behavior.
Note Moshe's complaint to God in 11:10-15, especially 11:11!
How is this parallel and different to Moshe's petitions to God in Sefer Shmot?
Compare with Shmot 5:22, 32:30-32 and 33:16.
Can you explain the reason for his 'change' in attitude?
Relate to Bamidbar 11:4-6.
[Relate also to Breishit 3:6.]
How does Hashem answer Moshe's complaint in Bamidbar 11:10-15?
See 11:16-17.
Relate this to the above parallel.
Is Moshe Rabbeinu's reaction to this incident similar to his reaction to the other complaints that will arise in Sefer Bamidbar?
Explain why is similar and what is different.
[Relate to chet ha'mraglim, korach, and mei meriva.]

3. When Bnei Yisrael travel through the desert, where is the Aron supposed to be?
Relate to 9:11-28 as well as 10:33-36.
See Question #3 in Parshanut section below (Part III).

4. In what manner is the special dedication ceremony for the Leviim (Bamidbar 8:5-14) similar to the dedication ceremony for the Kohanim as detailed in Vayikra 8:1-13 (and/or Shmot 29)?
In what manner is it different?
Can you explain the reason for the similarities and differences?
Can your relate this ceremony in 8:5-14 as well as Bamidbar 3:11-13 (and 13:14-51) to the original mitzvah set aside the "bchor" as explained in Shmot 13:1-2?
[Relate also to Shmot 32:26 and Devarim 10:8-9.]
How would you translate the word "kadesh" in Shmot 13:1?

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)
1. Do the opening psukim in Parshat Bha'alotcha (8:1-4) connect with chapter 7?
If so, explain their connection.
If not, where in Chumash does 8:1-4 belong?
[In your answer, be sure to relate to 7:1. See also Rashbam, Ibn Ezra and Chizkuni on 8:2 as well as Rashi and Ramban.]

2. When (i.e. on what day) did the events described in 8:5-22 take place?
How does this ceremony relate to chapter 7? To 8:1-4?
Is there any logic to the flow of parshiot?
[Review from last week's questions:
In your opinion, should chapter 7 end with pasuk 88 or 89?
Is 7:89 connected to anything in chapter 7? In Sefer Bamidbar?
Where does this pasuk belong?
Why do you think that it is here?
Relate to Shmot 25:22.
Why is it necessary to summarize all the korbanot in 7:84-88?
When were these korbanot first brought?
Read 7:10-11 very carefully before you answer this question.]

3. In your opinion, do chapters 7-8 belong in Sefer Bamidbar, in Sefer Vayikra (chapter 9), or in Sefer Shmot (chapter 40)?
Why do you think that they are included in Sefer Bamidbar?
How do they relate to chapters 9-10 that follow?
Do they relate to chapters 1-4? If so, how?

4. Can you find a common topic for all of the parshiot in chapters 9-10?
If so, how does it relate to the overall theme of Sefer Bamidbar (as discussed in last week's shiur)?
Can you find a common topic for all of the parshiot in chapters 11-14?
If so, how does that topic relate to the topic of chapters 9-10?

5. What is special about 10:35-36?
What is the purpose of the updside down "nun"s that surround these two psukim?
Can you relate your answer to question #4 above?
What should have happend from chapter 11 had Bnei Yisrael not sinned?
Can you explain why Chazal understand these two psukim as an "sefer" by itself? [See Shabbat 115b-116a.]
See also Rashi, Ramban, Seforno and Chizkuni.

6. Answer question #2 in Part I above!

Now that you've prepared, go to the shiur.

Part III - Parshanut
1. Is the main topic of chapter 9 (i.e. 9:1-14) "pesach rishon" or "pesach sheni?"
Explain your answer.
Relate to why this story is included in Sefer Bamidbar.
Use your answer to explain the problem in the chronological order of these parshiot [i.e. the date of Bamidbar 1:1 compared to 9:1].

Now, see Rashi on 9:1.
What conclusion does Rashi reach? Why?
How does he explain why it is 'out of place?'
[See also Chizkuni.]

Next see Ibn Ezra.
Note how he explains why this parshia is recorded here.
How is his pirush different than Rashi?
[In your opinion, what pirush is closer to 'pshat'?]

Next, see Ramban.
Usually, Ramban argues with the opinion of "ein mukdam u'muchar."
Why does he accept it for this pasuk?
How does he explain why this parshia is recorded here?
How does his pirush differ from Rashi and Ibn Ezra?

Finally, see Seforno.
Notice how comprehensive his pirush is!
How does he explain why this story is here in the context of of theme of Sefer Bamidbar?
How does he relate this to the problem of "ein mukdam u'muchar?"
[Note the final few lines!]
How does Seforno differ with Ramban?
Can you explain why?

2. Read 10:29-34; compare with Shmot chapter 18, especially 18:27.
Is 18:27 there the same story as here or different?
In your opinion, in the story in Bamidbar, does Yitro (= Chovav) end up staying with Bnei Yisrael or does he go back home to Midyan?
See Rashi, Ramban, and Seforno.
Note how they slightly differ.

3. Read 10:33.
Note how the Aron leads the camp.
Was this the original plan:

    Based on Bamidbar 9:11-28? Note 9:21.
    Based on Bamidbar 10:35?
    Based on Shmot 23:20-23?
    Based on Yehoshua chapter 3?
See Rashi on 10:33.
How does he solve this problem?
Why does he conclude that there were two?!
[Note also Chizkuni!!]

Next, see Ibn Ezra.
Why does he claim that this (first) travel was different than the rest?

Next, see Ramban.
How is his pirush different than Rashi and Ibn Ezra?
Why does he begin with "al derech ha'pshat?"

Finally, see Seforno.
How is he similar to Ibn Ezra? How does he differ?