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Parshat Naso - Questions for Self Study

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

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'
1. In Parshat Naso, we find the famous psukim of "birkat kohanim" [the priestly blessing; see 6:22-27] 'sandwiched' between the laws of Nazir (chapter 6) and the story of the dedication of the Mishkan (chapter 7).
Can you suggest a thematic reason for the juxtaposition of these three parshiot?
[After trying on your own], see Ibn Ezra, Ramban, and Chizkuni on 6:23!
[See also Rashi and Rashbam for important halachot that they learn from these psukim.]

2. Now that you've had a 'warm-up' with "smichut parshiot," can you suggest a thematic connection between the laws of "sotah" (5:11-31) and the laws of "nazir" (6:1-21)?
After trying on your own (again), see Rashi and Ibn Ezra on 6:2.
[See also Chizkuni (like Ibn Ezra). What important "musar" can we learn from this Ibn Ezra?!]

3. Recall that Chumash had already recorded the story of the dedication of the Mishkan in Shmot chapter 40 and in Vayikra chapters 8-9.
Why do you think that yet another aspect of that event are recorded here in Sefer Bamidbar?
In your answer, relate to 7:3-9 in relation to the general topic in chapters 1-4!
[Relate as well to the theme of 'leadership' in Sefer Bamidbar.]

4. In regard to "nedarim" [vows, in relation to the laws of "nazir" in chapter 6] Chazal make a very interesting statement:

"He who makes a vow - it is as though he builds a bamah [an altar on a high place]; when he fulfills that vow - it is as though he offers a sacrifice on that bamah..." [See Mesechet Yevamot 109a.]
In your opinion, is this a positive or negative statement concerning one who makes a vow [or possibly both]?
[Recall that a bamah is an altar built for God, but one is permitted to set up a bamah only when a permanent Mikdash does not exist. However, once the permanent Mikdash was build by Shlomo HaMelech in Yerushalayim, bamot became forbidden forever. See Rambam Hilchot Beit Ha'bechira 1:1 thru 1:4.]
Why do you think that Chazal chose specifically this comparison to a bamah rather than simply say that "nedarim" are not advisable?
Is there a time when "nedarim" are advisable?
How does this compare to the times when a bamah is permitted?!
[Relate to Rambam Hilchot Day'ot chapter 1.]

5. Sefer Bamidbar opens on the 1st of Iyar, as God commands Moshe to take a census.
Note the order the tribes as they are organized by camps in chapter 2.
[See last week's shiur for discussion of the reason for this order.]
Now, note the tribal order of the n'si'im, as they offer their korbanot during the twelve day dedication ceremony in chapter 7.
Is the order the same or different?
Can you explain why?
Note the date of when these korbanot were offered a month before the census was taken!
What does this tell you about reason for the order by which the n'si'im offered their korbanot?
[See Ramban 7:12]

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)
1. Take a careful look at the last pasuk in Parshat Naso (7:89), and its relation to the entire chapter that precedes it.
Would you say that this pasuk simply doesn't belong here?!
Explain why yes, or why not.

2. Based on Shmot 25:21-22 and Vayikra 1:1, is this pasuk at all necessary?
If so, where should it have been written?
Why do you think that it is written here at the conclusion of the korbanot of the n'si'im?

3. Based on chapter 7, can you determine on what date this pasuk 'takes place?'
[Is it after the 12 n'si'im offer their korbanot?]

4. Now, take a careful look at 7:1-11, especially 7:10!
Based on 7:10-11, what did all of the n'si'im bring on the first day of the dedication ceremony?
Why did they only offer those korbanot over twelve days instead of all together on the first day?
How does this help explain the reason for the Torah's summary of all of their korbanot in 7:84-88?
[Note the date that is implicit from 7:84 and its connection to 7:10!]
Now, answer question #3 again.

5. Based on Shmot 33:7 (and its context), from where did God speak to Moshe in the aftermath of Chet Ha'Egel?
How does this relate to the purpose of the Mishkan and especially to Shmot 25:7-8 ["v'shachanti b'tocham"]?
After Chet Ha'Egel, when is the first time that God speaks to Moshe from within the camp of Israel again?
In other words, on what day is the Mishkan dedicated?
According to Bamidbar 7:89, after what event did God begin to speak to Moshe from the Mishkan?
Can you relate this to the above questions?

6. What can you conclude from these sources concerning the importance of unity among the tribes?
Can you explain now why the last pasuk in Parshat Naso belongs exactly where it is?
How (and why) can it be considered the climax of the entire chapter?

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

Part III - Parshanut
1. In regard to 7:89 (and the questions in Part II above), see:

    Rashi -
    What question in pshat does Rashi address?
    Does he relate to why this pasuk is placed here?

    Ibn Ezra (and Chizkuni) -
    What question in pshat do they address.
    Can this help you answer the questions in Part II?

    Seforno -
    What point does Seforno come to add?
    How does he relate this pasuk to chet ha'egel?
    Why does he compare this pasuk to Bayit Rishon and Sheni?

2. Finally, see Ramban on 7:12 and his argument with Rashi.
In your opinion, which approach seems to be closer to "pshat"?
How do the points raised by Ramban relate to the questions in Part II above?

3. See also questions 1 and 2 in Part I above.