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Parshat Shmot - Questions for Self Study

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

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'
1. Aside from serving as an 'attention getter,' in your opinion, is there any symbolism to the 'burning bush' (see 3:1-5)?
Relate to the key events which later take place at Har Chorev. See especially Devarim 5:19-24 (and its context). How does the burning bush model what transpires at Matan Torah?
[Does Matan Torah take place at this same spot? Relate to Shmot 17:6 and its context.]
How does your answer relate to the purpose of "hitgalut"?

2. In your opinion, did the Egyptians consider killing a newborn baby less 'problematic' (morally) than killing a child or an adult?
See Ramban on 1:10 for a very interesting perspective on this question specifically, and on how the enslavement began in general.

3. How many years elapse (approximately) from the time that Moshe first ran away from Egypt until he returns from Midyan? How does this affect his reluctance to become God's spokesman?
In your opinion, was Aharon in any official position before Moshe was chosen by God to become the new leader of Bnei Yisrael? Who led Bnei Yisrael until this point in time?

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)
1. Before Moshe Rabbeinu becomes their leader, did Bnei Yisrael have an established leadership of any sort?
If so, who were their leaders and how were they chosen? Does this leadership continue to function after Moshe becomes their leader? [Relate to the "zkeinim" mentioned in 3:16.]
Do Bnei Yisrael have any official sort of representation to Pharaoh? If so, how does that leadership function?
Relate to the "shotrim" and the "m'yaldot." [See 1:18, 3:18, and 5:15.]

2. Scan the first five chapters of Sefer Shmot, noting its division into 'parshiot.' Which 'parshia' (or chapter) is the central focus, and which chapters lead up to it?
How does your answer relate to the theme of Sefer Shmot (or at least of the first section of Sefer Shmot) discussed above?

3. Review chapter 3 - the story of Moshe at the "sneh."
What is the primary purpose of this "hitgalut" to Moshe Rabbeinu? In what manner does it 'set the stage' for what will take place later on in Sefer Shmot?
In that hitgalut, does Moshe receive just 'information,' or is he given a mission? Explain your answer carefully, based on psukim. If there is a mission, when is it fulfilled?
[Is there more than one mission? If so, what is the second?]
In your answer, be sure to relate to 3:10-12, and question #2 in the Parshanut section below.
Based on God's commandment to Moshe in 3:10-22, what is Moshe supposed to tell Bnei Yisrael concerning their forthcoming redemption? Is this the same message that he is to tell Pharaoh?
Does Moshe ever tell Bnei Yisrael that he intends to lead them to Har Sinai? Where do Bnei Yisrael expect to travel to? How long should this journey take?

4. At the end of chapter two we find a very short 'parshia.' How does this parshia (2:23-25) relate to chapter 3, and the above question?

5. As your study chapter 3, note psukim 7-8, 16-17, and 19-22.
Compare them carefully to God's earlier promises to the Avot, especially to Brit Bein Ha'btarim (Breishit 15:13-21) and Brit Milah (17:7-8), as well as 46:1-3 and 50:24-25.
Based on this comparison, would say that God has come to fulfill His "brit?" If so, which "brit" and why now?
In your opinion, were the traditions of these covenants passed down by the Avot to their offspring (now in Egypt)?
Now read 3:13 carefully.
Why is Moshe so sure that Bnei Yisrael will immediately ask: "What Name of God appeared to him?"
What should God's answer be to Moshe's question? What is his answer?
[See Rashbam in question #3 of Parshanut section below.]

6. Review once again the Rashbam's pirush to 3:11-12 (see Parshanut section #2 below). To better appreciate Rashbam's shita, scan from chapter 3 through chapter 14 while paying careful attention to each conversation between Moshe and Pharaoh regarding Moshe's demand - "shlach et ami v'yaavduni..." Does Moshe ever tell Pharaoh that Bnei Yisrael plan to leave for good?
What does he ask for? Why? (Read 5:3 carefully!)
Do negotiations take place between Moshe and Pharaoh concerning this specific request during the plagues? Cite specific examples in your answer.
When Pharaoh finally allows Bnei Yisrael to leave, is it in response to Moshe's original request (in 5:3) or is it a total expulsion from Egypt forever? Relate to the Torah's account of the Exodus in 12:29-36 to support your answer! [Relate also to Shmot 14:1-6 and Ramban 14:4-5.]
In your opinion, why is Rashbam so adamant that his interpretation to Shmot 3:11-12 is the only way to explain "pshat?"
Even if this is "pshat" (that Moshe did not tell Pharaoh his real intention) - what is the obvious problem with this pirush?

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

Part III - Parshanut
1. Note that the first 'parshia' of Sefer Shmot (1:1-6) recaps the "toladot" of Yaakov, even though they have already been detailed in Sefer Breishit (see 46:8-27). Can you explain why?

    a. Now, see the first Rashi on Parshat Shmot.
    Is this the same question that is bothering Rashi?
    If so, what is Rashi's answer?
    b. Read Ramban on this same pasuk. What is his answer to this question? Why does he disagree with Rashi?
    Now, re-read this Ramban, noting how he brings down both the opinions of Ibn Ezra and Rashi.
    Note, that even though he disagrees with Rashi's explanation of "pshat", he states that the midrash that Rashi quotes to explain this pasuk is true ("emet").
    How does this Ramban help us understand the difference between drash and pshat?

2. Review 3:10-12. I suggest that you make a table which compares the first half of these three psukim to each other, and the second half of each of these three psukim to each other. Can you follow the logic of the flow?
What is the most obvious problem in this flow?

    a. See Rashi on these psukim. Does Rashi relate to any of the problems that you noticed? How does he answer them?
    In your opinion, is this "pshat" or "drash?"
    b. Next, see Ramban. How does he solve the problem in these psukim?
    How (and why) does he relate the answer to all of Moshe's questions to Ma'amad Har Sinai?
    c. Finally, see Rashbam on 3:10-12. Note how his pirush relates to your table (that compares these three psukim).
    Do you agree with Rashbam that his pirush is the only 'real' pshat?
    Be sure to answer question #6 above. Does your answer to #6 support this Rashbam?

3. See the Rashbam on 3:13-15, especially his pirush on "zeh zichri" in 3:15.
Note that he 'codes' his answer in "at-bash." Decode it, and decide what his answer is, and how it relates to question #5 above!
How does his 'coded' answer relate to his pirush in 3:13-15, which explains why we don't always use God's Name when referring to Him?
Next, see Ramban on 3:13. Can you explain how and why his pirush relates to Shmot 6:2-6?
How is his pirush different, and how is it similar to Rashbam's?
Finally, see Ibn Ezra on 3:13. It's quite difficult, and I doubt that you'll understand it (as I didn't), but from reading it you can see at least how important this pasuk is.