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Parshat - Questions for Self Study

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

Part I - Questions for the 'Shabbat Table'
1. Parshat Emor begins (in chapter 21) with laws concerning the Kohanim.
After summarizing the basic laws in this chapter, try to explain how they are different than the laws concerning Kohanim that were detailed in Parshat Tzav (i.e. in chapters 6-7).
Based on last week's shiur, can you explain why these laws are found in the second half of Vayikra [kedushat Mishkan], in contrast to the laws in Tzav that are found in the first half of Vayikra [kedushat ha'adam]?

2. Later in chapter 21 we learn that a Kohen "baal mum" [with a physical blemish or defect] cannot offer korbanot (see 21:16-21); on the other hand, he is permitted to eat "kodashim" (see 21:22-23) even though he didn't offer that korban.
Can you explain the underlying logic behind these two laws?
Would you consider either (or both) of them 'fair?'

3. What is difficult about the last pasuk in chapter 21 [i.e. what did Moshe tell Aharon, the Kohanim and Bnei Yisrael]?
Relate your answer to 21:16-17, 21:1 and 20:1-2! [What is special about these three headers?]
How do these three headers help you understand the last pasuk in chapter 21?
Do you think that this summary pasuk could also be considered a conclusion to chapters 18-19 as well?
Support your answer!

4. After summarizing the laws in chapters 21 and 22, attempt to explain the logic of the progression of these mitzvot.
While doing so, relate to the following questions:
How is the law of a Kohen "tamey" similar to the law of Kohen "ba'al mum?"
How is it different?
[Which of these two can eat "kodshim?" Can either offer korbanot?]
Is the law of Kohen "ba'al mum" similar to the law of an animal that is a "ba'al mum?"
How is the prohibition against offering an animal less than eight days old similar to the prohibition of a "ba'al mum?"

5. In what manner are the opening psukim to chapter 23 (23:1-4) similar to the opening psukim to Parshat Va'yakhel (Shmot 35:1-4)?
In your opinion, what can we learn from this parallel?
How do the laws of shabbat relate to building the Mishkan?
How do they relate to the "moadim?"

6. In chapter 23 - the "moadim" - note how the phrase "chukat olam l'doroteichem..." can be found in the laws of almost every holiday.
Review the chapter to verify this, noting the precise phrase for each holiday (and the context of each).
Explain what this phrase means and how it relates to each holiday. Relate as well to Shmot 12:14.
Is this phrase for each holiday identical?
If not, which holiday(s) are different?
Relate to the word "moshvoteichem" in each!
Can you explain why?
[Relate to what is special about "succot" and the pasuk "ba'sukkot tayshvu shivat yamim..."!]

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur)
1. In Parshat Emor (chapter 23) we find a complete list of the Jewish holidays.
Where else in Chumash do we find such a list (or similar)?
[If (/or when) you give up, see Shmot 23:24-20 and 34:18-26, Bamidbar chapters 28-29 and Devarim chapter 16.]
In these parshiot we find many different "chagim" (holidays).
Try to organize them into two or three distinct groups.
Explain the reason for your division based on how they are presented in Chumash.

2. In what manner is the presentation of the chagim in Parshat Emor different than in the other parshiot in Chumash?
In what manner is it similar?

3. Note the dates that the Torah uses for each holiday.
Are they based on the solar calendar (i.e. the agricultural seasons) or lunar calendar (month/day) [or both]?
Can you explain why?
What type of date does the Torah use for those same holidays in the other parshiot of "chagim" (as mentioned above in question #1)?

4. As you study chapter 23, make a table listing each of the chagim.
For each chag, note the mitzvot that are mentioned.
Which of these mitzvot are common for each of the chagim? Which of these mitzvot are special for that specific chag?
Attempt to explain the reason for each mitzvah?.

5. Note that every holiday in Parshat Emor includes the commandment "v'hikravtem ishe l'Hashem."
Scan the parsha to see if this is indeed true.
[Are any chagim an exception?]
What "ishe" (offering) is the Torah referring to - a private korban from each individual or somethign for the tzibbur (the entire congregation)?
Can you relate this commandment to the description of the chagim in Parshat Pinchas (Bamidbar 28-29)?
Relate in your answer to Vayikra 23:37!
[After answering this yourself, be sure to see Ramban 23:1]

6. Which specific korbanot are presented in more precise detail in Parshat Emor (scan from 23:1-44)?
Are these korbanot identical to the korbanot described in Parshat Pinchas or are they different?
Can you explain their purpose and why they are different?
Do the korbanot that are detailed in Parshat Emor share any 'common denominator?'
If so, explain what it is and why.

7. Make a table listing all the holidays in Parshat Emor.
For each holiday, note its date (lunar and/or solar) together with the special mitzvah for that chag.
As you make your table, make note of either any historical or agricultural aspect relating to those chagim.
[Relate to both the mitzvot which are mentioned in Emor, as well as the mitzvot for each holiday that you know from other sources as well.]

In your opinion, does the mitzvah to sit in a succah (see 23:42-43) relate to the historical aspect of Succot (i.e. yetziat mitzraim) or to its agricultural aspect (i.e. temporary booths built by the farmers in the field collecting the harvest) - or both?
Quote psukim to support your answer.
[Relate also to Succah 11b - "succah k'neged ananei kavod or succot mamash."]

Does your table help you understand the nature of the lunar and solar dates?
[Use the parshiot of the chagim in Sefer Shmot and Sefer Devarim (chapter 16) to help answer this question.]

8. Which of the chagim are referred to as "moadim" and which are called "shabbatonim" (or "shabbat"), and which chagim are referred to as both?
Be sure to note 23:11,15,16,24,32,39!
In your answer, relate to the 'double' description of Succot in 23:33-43, noting the distinction between "moed" and "shabbaton" and their related mitzvot.
Use this to explain 23:37-39 and the use of the word "ach."
Attempt to relate this as well to the 'double header' in 23:1-3!

9. In what manner does the final pasuk in chapter 23 complement the opening pasuk of this chapter?

10. Based on our shiurim thus far in Sefer Vayikra, why do you think that chapter 23 is included in this Sefer?
[Does it relate to korbanot, to kedusha, etc.?]
Be sure to relate to the specific mitzvot of the chagim (as well as the general mitzvot) that are detailed in this chapter.

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

Part III - Parshanut
1. A major debate exist concerning how to explain the pasuk that defines when we begin counting the omer -"mimochorat ha'shabbat" (see 23:11).
In your opinion, why does the Torah refer to the first day of chag ha'matzot as "shabbat?"

Can you relate your answer to the above preparation questions?
Relate to how each of the chagim in some manner or other is referred to as a "shabbat" or "shabbaton."

See Rashi, Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Chizkuni and Mesechet M'nachot 61a.
Even though everyone agrees that shabbat is referring to the first day of yom-tov, each commentator offers a different reason why.
Try to explain each "parshan" and the reason for the machloket.

2. Read 21:1 (the opening pasuk of the Parsha).
What is problematic about the 'wording' of this opening statement?

See Ramban on this pasuk, noting how he first quotes Rashi, then Ibn Ezra, and then offers his own opinion.
Explain each of these three approaches. Why do you think that Ramban does not agree with either Rashi or Ibn Ezra?

Finally, see Chizkuni on 21:1.
In what manner is his pirush different?
What does he learn from "smichut parshiot" between this pasuk and the last pasuk in Parshat Kedoshim?

3. Read 24:10, how did you translate the opening phrase ["vayeitzei ben isha yisraelit"] - i.e. what does "vayeitzei" mean?
What are the different possibilities?

See Rashi; how does he understand this word?
What questions bother him based on this understanding?
[Relate to all the questions raised by the Midrash.]

See Ibn Ezra and Ramban.
How do they translate "vayeitzei?"
Do they both offer the same pirush?
[If not, how do they differ?]
[Note also how Ibn Ezra later explains the reason for the "smichut parshiot" here!]

Finally, see Chizkuni.
How does he explain "vayeitzei?"
In what manner is his pirush totally different than all of the others?
Why does he refer to this as "pshat?"