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Parshat Shlach - 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 the names of the 12 'spies' (13:4-16), we find 24 examples of biblical names (i.e. son and father).
In the opening chapter of Sefer Bamidbar (1:5-15) we find another 24 names.
Scan those names and note which names include God's Name.
In those names, note the different Names that are used to describe Hashem (e.g. kel, shakai, tzur, etc.).
Which of Hashem's Names seems to be missing?!

Now read Shmot 6:2-3 (carefully).
How does this pasuk help explain why this Name is missing?
[Make sure to note when these leaders were born!]
How does this explain Yehoshua's name change from Hoshea bin Nun to Yehoshua?
What does this name change reflect?
[For other examples, note the names of the Kings of Yehuda, e.g. Yedidyah (=Shlomo), Yehoshaphat, Yehoram, Chizkiyahu, etc.]

What is Yehoshua's (and Kalev's) primary message to the nation when they return from their mission (see 14:8)?
How does this relate to his name change?

2. Note also the frequency of God's Name in the list of the 'meraglim' (13:4-16) compared to the list of the n'si'im (1:5-15).
Do you think that this may be significant?
[Note also the frequency of the names of animals in those two lists. Is this necessarily derogatory?]

3. Compare God's "midot ha'rachamim" in the aftermath of Chet HaMeraglim (14:17-23) to those in the aftermath of Chet Ha'Egel (Shmot 34:5-9).
Can you explain the differences?
Relate to nature of each punishment.

If you have time, relate your analysis to Devarim 9:25-29.
Is Moshe Rabbeinu quoting midot ha'rachamim from Chet Ha'Egel or from Chet HaMeraglim?
Relate this as well to the context of the perek; note especially psukim 9:5-8 and 9:22-24!

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)
1. In Parshat Shlach, are the "meraglim" ever referred to as "meraglim?"
If so, where?
If not, what hebrew word is used to describe them?
What does that word mean?

2. Now, make a list all of the questions that the meraglim are instructed to answer.
Try to organize them into two different categories.
Based on this list, how would you define their mission?
How does this relate to your answer to question #1?

3. Carefully compare your list in question #2 to the mission of the spies that Yehoshua sends (see Yehoshua chapter 2).
Would you say that these missions are similar or different?
Use this comparison to support your answer to question #2.
[Note who sends each group, and whom they report back to. Note as well which names are 'publicized!']

4. Based on their mission (as you defined it above), when they report back to the nation - does their report follow the guidelines of their mission?
[Or, at least, until what point in their report does their report concur with their mission?]
If their report was accurate, in what manner did they sin?
If their report was inaccurate - explain where and why.

5. Compare Moshe and Aharon's reaction to the report of the spies (see 14:5) to that of Kalev and Yehoshua (13:30, 14:6-9).
Compare this to other instances in Sefer Bamidbar when Bnei Yisrael complain, e.g. Korach, mei meriva, etc.
[Relate this to last week's shiur as well.]

6. Read the parallel account of Chet HaMegralim in Devarim chapter 1 (see 1:19-45).
What word does the Torah use to describe the "mergalim' in that account?
According to those psukim, what was their mission?
Relate this to your answer to question #2 above.

In your opinion, is it possible to reconcile these two accounts (see m'forshim)?
Relate the differences between them to the purpose of each sefer.
[What is being emphasized by Moshe Rabbeinu in Sefer Devarim? Note the content of Devarim chapters 2-3, especially 3:21-22!]

7. From Sefer Devarim, it seems as though sending the mergalim was the people's idea, while in Sefer Bamidbar it seems to have been a Divine commandment.
Based on the nature of the relationship between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael when they live in the land of Israel, as opposed to the nature of that relationship when they travelled thru the desert, what positive aspect can be found in sending spies to check out the land first on their own?

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

Part III - Parshanut
1. In chapter 15, we find several mitzvot that appear to be totally unconnected to the ongoing narrative (see shiur on Parshat Naso).
In your opinion, where in Chumash would you say that these mitzvot belong?
[When were these mitzvot given? On Har Sinai? From the Ohel Moed (see Vayikra 1:1 and the mitzvot which follow)? During one of stops on their journey?]
Can you find a thematic connection between these mitzvot and the story of the "meraglim"?

After you have tried, look up the following commentaries and note how they have dealt with this question.

    a) Rashi, 15:2.
    b) Ibn Ezra 15:2 (read carefully!). [Note how he does all of these mitzvot together!]
    c) Ramban 15:2, 15:32 and 15:38 [Relate this Ramban 15:32 to his opinion in regard to "ein mukdam u'muchar ba'torah" !]
    d) Chizkuni 15:2, 15:32, 15:40-41.
    e) See also Rashi 15:39 on "v'lo ta'turu;" why do you think that he quotes the pasuk from 13:25?
    f) Finally, see Seforno in his introduction to Sefer Bamidbar (found in the Torat Chaim edition at the beginning of Sefer Breishit). How does he explain the connection between these mitzvot and the ongoing narrative?
    [Note his explanation of Sefer Bamidbar in general. Relate this to our shiur on Parshat Naso.]
2. See Rashi 15:41 where he quotes from Rebbi Moshe HaDarshan in regard to the mitzvot that are equivalent to all the mitzvot ("shkula k'neged kol ha'mitzvot").
He lists "avoda zara," "chilul shabbat," and "tzizit."
According to Chazal, there is one other mitzvah that is considered "shkula k'negged kol ha'mitzvot" - the mitzvah of "eretz yisrael."
How does this statement reflect the entire group of mitzvot that are found in Bamidbar chapter 15 and their thematic connection to Chet HaMeraglim (i.e. Bnei Yisrael not wanting to enter the Land of Israel)?
[Hope this one wasn't too zionistic.]

3. The mitzvot in 15:1-11 explain the meal and wine offering (better known as "nsachim") that must be brought together with each korban olah or shlamim.
The details of olah and shlamim are detailed in Vayikra chapter 1-3.
Why are these laws included there?
Is there a simple and very logical reason why the obligation to bring "nsachim" is only once they enter the land (see 15:1)?
[Relate to where they are living in the desert and what their source of food is.]