Parsha Q&A

For the week ending 4 July 2009 / 11 Tammuz 5769

Parshat Chukat - Balak

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    • "Take a perfect para aduma (red heifer)." What does the word "perfect" temima mean in this context?

    • How many non-red hairs disqualify a cow as a para aduma?

    • A man dies in a tent. What happens to the sealed metal and earthenware utensils in the tent?

    • What happens to the one who: a) sprinkles the water mixed with the ashes of the para aduma; b) touches the water; c) carries the water?

    • Why was the mitzvah of the para aduma entrusted to Elazar rather than to Aharon?

    • Why does the Torah stress that all of the congregation came to Midbar Tzin?

    • Why is Miriam's death taught after the law of para aduma?

    • During their journey in the midbar, in whose merit did the Jewish People receive water?

    • Why did Moshe need to strike the rock a second time?

    • When Moshe told the King of Edom that the Jewish People would not drink from the well-water, to which well did he refer? What do we learn from this?

    • The cloud that led the Jewish People leveled all mountains in their path except three. Which three and why?

    • Why did the entire congregation mourn Aharon's death?

    • What disappeared when Aharon died?

    • Which "inhabitant of the South" (21:1) attacked the Jews?

    • For what two reasons did G-d punish the people with snakes specifically?

    • Why did the Jewish People camp in Arnon, rather than pass through Moav to enter Eretz Canaan?

    • What miracle took place at the valley of Arnon?

    • What was the "strength" of Amon that prevented the Jewish People from entering into their land?

    • Why was Moshe afraid of Og?

    • Who killed Og?


    • Why did Moav consult specifically with Midian regarding their strategy against the Jews?

    • What was Balak's status before becoming Moav's king?

    • Why did G-d grant prophecy to the evil Bilaam?

    • Why did Balak think Bilaam's curse would work?

    • When did Bilaam receive his prophecies?

    • G-d asked Bilaam, "Who are these men with you?" What did Bilaam deduce from this question?

    • How do we know Bilaam hated the Jews more than Balak did?

    • What is evidence of Bilaam's arrogance?

    • In what way was the malach that opposed Bilaam an angel of mercy?

    • How did Bilaam die?

    • Why did the malach kill Bilaam's donkey?

    • Bilaam compared his meeting with an angel to someone else's meeting with an angel. Who was the other person and what was the comparison?

    • Bilaam told Balak to build seven altars. Why specifically seven?

    • Who in Jewish history seemed fit for a curse, but got a blessing instead?

    • Why are the Jewish People compared to lions?

    • On Bilaam's third attempt to curse the Jews, he changed his strategy. What was different?

    • What were Bilaam's three main characteristics?

    • What did Bilaam see that made him decide not to curse the Jews?

    • What phrase in Bilaam's self-description can be translated in two opposite ways, both of which come out meaning the same thing?

    • Bilaam told Balak that the Jews' G-d hates what?


All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated


    • 19:2 - Perfectly red.

    • 19:2 - Two.

    • 19:14,15 - The metal utensils are impure for seven days, even if they are sealed. The sealed earthenware vessels are unaffected.

    • 19:21 - a) Remains tahor; b) He, but not his clothing, contracts tumah; c) He and his clothing contract tumah.

    • 19:22 - Because Aharon was involved in the sin of the golden calf.

    • 20:1 - To teach that they were all fit to enter the Land; everyone involved in the sin of the spies already died.

    • 20:1 - To teach that just as sacrifices bring atonement, so too does the death of the righteous.

    • 20:2 - Miriam's.

    • 20:11 - After he hit it the first time, only a few drops came out since he was commanded to speak to the rock.

    • 20:17 - To the well that traveled with the nation in the midbar. This teaches that one who has adequate provisions should nevertheless purchase goods from his host in order to benefit the host.

    • 20:22 - Har Sinai for receiving the Torah, Har Nevo for Moshe's burial, and Hor Hahar for Aharon's burial.

    • 20:29 - Aharon made peace between contending parties and between spouses. Thus, everybody mourned him.

    • 20:29 - The clouds of glory disappeared, since they sheltered the Jews in Aharon's merit.

    • 21:1 - Amalek.

    • 21:6 - The original snake, who was punished for speaking evil, is fitting to punish those who spoke evil about G-d and about Moshe. And the snake, for whom everything tastes like dust, is fitting to punish those who complained about the manna which changed to any desired taste.

    • 21:13 - Moav refused them passage.

    • 21:15 - The Amorites hid in caves in the mountain on the Moabite side of the valley in order to ambush the Jews. When the Jews approached, the mountain on the Eretz Canaan side of the valley moved close to the other mountain and the Amorites were crushed.

    • 21:24 - G-d's command, "Do not harass them" (Devarim 2:19).

    • 21:34 - Og had once been of service to Avraham. Moshe was afraid that this merit would assist Og in battle.

    • 21:35 - Moshe.


    • 22:4 - Since Moshe grew up in Midian, the Moabites thought the Midianites might know wherein lay Moshe's power.

    • 22:4 - He was a prince of Midian.

    • 22:5 - So the other nations couldn't say, "If we had had prophets, we also would have become righteous."

    • 22:6 - Because Bilaam's curse had helped Sichon defeat Moav.

    • 22:8 - Only at night.

    • 22:9 - He mistakenly reasoned that G-d isn't all-knowing.

    • 22:11 - Balak wanted only to drive the Jews from the land. Bilaam sought to exterminate them completely.

    • 22:13 - He implied that G-d wouldn't let him go with the Moabite princes due to their lesser dignity.

    • 22:22 - It mercifully tried to stop Bilaam from sinning and destroying himself.

    • 22:23 - He was killed with a sword.

    • 22:33 - So that people shouldn't see it and say, "Here's the donkey that silenced Bilaam." G-d is concerned with human dignity.

    • 22:34 - Avraham. Bilaam said, "G-d told me to go but later sent an angel to stop me. The same thing happened to Avraham: G-d told Avraham to sacrifice Yitzchak but later canceled the command through an angel."

    • 23:4 - Corresponding to the seven altars built by the Avot. Bilaam said to G-d, "The Jewish People's ancestors built seven altars, but I alone have built altars equal to all of them."

    • 23:8 - Yaakov, when Yitzchak blessed him.

    • 23:24 - They rise each morning and "strengthen" themselves to do mitzvot.

    • 24:1 - He began mentioning the Jewish People's sins, hoping thus to be able to curse them.

    • 24:2 - An evil eye, pride, and greed.

    • 24:2 - He saw each Tribe dwelling without intermingling. He saw the tents arranged so no one could see into his neighbor's tent.

    • 24:3 - "Shatum ha'ayin." It means either "the poked-out eye," implying blindness in one eye; or, it means the "the open eye," which means vision but implies blindness in the other eye.

    • 24:14 - Promiscuity.

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