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Parshat Behar - Questions for Self Study

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

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'
1. To whom does Eretz Canaan belong - Am Yisrael or Hashem? [Explain the question before you answer it!]
In your answer, relate to Breishit 12:7, 15:18 and 17:7-8, as well as Shmot 6:8 and 19:5-6, and Vayikra 25:23! [Relate as well to Vayikra 25:38 and 25:55.]
Use your answer to help explain the purpose of God's promise of Eretz Canaan to the Avot.

2. What type of economic system is created by the laws of "shmita" and "yovel?"
In your opinion, is this system more similar to capitalism or to communism?
What are the positive and negative aspects of this system?
How does the Torah relate to certain potential negative aspects, such as those explained in 25:14-17 and 25:20-23?

3. In addition to the shmita cycle, where else in Sefer Vayikra do we find cycles of seven?
Are any of these cycles of seven followed by something special? [Relate to Vayikra chapters 8-9 and chapter 23.]
How are the laws which relate to those cycles similar to the laws of "shmita" and "yovel?"
Where is the first time in Chumash where we find that the number 'seven' is significant?
Can this help explain why specifically the mitzvah of shmita relates to the number seven?
[Relate to Breishit 1:1-2:3 and man's perception of nature.]

4. See Parshanut section, at least the first two questions.

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)
1. Does Parshat Behar thematically relate in any manner to Parshat Emor?
If so, explain how.
[Based on its header (25:1), should it relate to Emor?]

2. Does Parshat Behar thematically relate in any manner to Parshat Bchukotai?
If so, explain how.
Do chapters 25 and 26 form a unit?
If so, explain how and why.
[Relate to their header and finale as well as to their content.]

3. Relate the theme of chapters 25 and 26 to Vayikra chapter 18, and to the theme of the second half of Vayikra (as discussed in the shiur on Parshat Acharei Mot).
[Be sure to relate to 18:25-28.]

4. In your opinion, does chapter 24 'belong' in Sefer Vayikra?
Explain why it does or doesn't. [Relate to each of its parshiot.]
If it doesn't 'belong' in Sefer Vayikra, where in Chumash would you say that each of the 'parshiot' (in chapter 24) do belong?

5. Based on its header (see 25:1; compare with 1:1), does Parshat Behar belong in Sefer Vayikra or in Sefer Shmot?
Based on its content, in what sefer does it belong?
[See Shmot 24:7 and Chizkuni! See also Ibn Ezra.]

6. How does 26:1-2 thematically connect to either chapter 25 which precedes it or to chapter 26 which follows?
Are these laws new or 'repeats?'
If they are repeats, where in Chumash were they first mentioned? [Relate to both Sefer Shmot and Sefer Vayikra.]
Why do you think that they are being repeated?
Why do you think that a new chapter begins in 26:1, but the new parshia only begins in 26:3?
In your opinion, which division is more logical?

7. Based on your answers to the above questions, if you have found certain 'parshiot' in Sefer Vayikra that appear to belong in Sefer Shmot, make a list of the topics of those parshiot, noting where each parshia does belong.
Study your list; do you notice a pattern?

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

Part III - Parshanut
1. The opening pasuk of Parshat Behar tells us that these mitzvot were given on Har Sinai.
Let's say this parsha began like most other parshiot with simply "vaydaber Hashem el Moshe laymor" without mentioning Har Sinai; if that were the case, from where would we have thought that these mitzvot were given? On Har Sinai? The Mishkan? Somewhere else?
Up until this point, from where have the other mitzvot recorded in Sefer Vayikra been given?
[Relate to Vayikra 1:1, 7:37-38, and 16:1.]

2. Is this the first time in the Torah that we find details about the laws of shmita?
If not, where else did we learn about it?
Relate to Shmot 23:11-12 and its context.
What is the nature of the other mitzvot recorded in Shmot chapter 23 (i.e. the unit Shmot 20:19-23:19)?
Where and when were those mitzvot given?
How does this relate to the first pasuk in Behar?

3. Now, see the Midrash quoted by Rashi on the first pasuk in Parshat Behar ["mah inyan shmita etzel Har Sinai"].
What basic assumption does this Midrash make that leads to its question?
What is that assumption based on?
How does Rashi explain the answer of the Midrash to this question?
How does Ramban explain that Midrash?
[Can you explain why they argue?]
Can you suggest a more simple answer to the question raised by the Midrash?

4. Now, see Ibn Ezra.
Why does he immediately say "ein mukdam um'uchar...?"
Is he not bothered by the question raised by Rashi?
How would he answer that question based on his pirush?
How does he explain why this parsha is 'out of place?'
[See also Rashbam; is this a similar approach?]

5. Next, see Chizkuni.
Is his basic approach the same as Ibn Ezra or different?
How does he explain why this parsha is 'out of place?!' How is this different than Ibn Ezra's explanation?

6. Now, see Seforno.
Does he explain like Rashi or like Ibn Ezra?
How does he explain why this parsha is 'out of place?!'

7. See Ramban once again; note how first he explains what he understands as 'pshat' of the Midrash quoted by Rashi (arguing with Rashi's own explanation of that Midrash).
Continue this Ramban until he begins "l'fi da'ati" - ["according to my opinion..."]. Note how here he begins his own explanation of this pasuk!
Even though just about all of the other mforshim understand that this parsha is a classic case of "ein mukdam um'uchar," Ramban 'gallantly' defends his position that Chumash progresses in chronological order.
Read this Ramban carefully, and note how he beautifully explains the chronological order of the entire Sefer!
Note also how he relates the "tochacha" to the second Luchot!
[Relate this to our shiur on the 13 Midot.]
Even though this Ramban is very lengthy, it is very worth your study, both to help you understand Sefer Vayikra and to appreciate Ramban's approach and methodology.
Note how he provides a comprehensive explanation for the progression of almost all of the parshiot is Sefer Vayikra.
[As your read this Ramban, note how 'loyal' he is to his opinion of "yeish mukdam um'uchar ba'torah."]