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Parshat Chukat - Questions for Self Study

Questions for Shiur Preparation - Shiur #1
Questions for Shiur Preparation - Shiur #2
Questions on Parshanut

Part I - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur #1)
1. How many different opinions can your recall that explain what Moshe did wrong at the Mei Meriva incident?
Which opinion do you consider most logical?
Do you think that the punishment he receives is fair?
If not, explain why not.
What precisely what his punishment?
Jot you answer down for later reference.

2. Read 20:7-11 very carefully.
Make a list of each stage of God's commandment to Moshe Rabeinu, as detailed in 20:8.
[Note that there are five stages in this command (pay attention to each verb).]
Now carefully compare these commands to Moshe actions as detailed in 20:9-11.
What did Moshe do right?
What did he do wrong?
It is easy to pinpoint precisely what he did wrong?
How do you know for sure that he did do something wrong?

3. See Ramban 20:7 where he summarizes all of the various opinions.
How does your answer to question #2 help you understand all of the various points raised by Ramban?
[This question counts for the Parshanut section this week.]

4. In 20:9, which (or whose) "mateh" does Moshe take?
Where does he take it from and why?
Can you relate this to Bamidbar 17:16-26 (especially 17:25)!
What other textual and thematic connections can you find between the story of Mei Meriva and Korach's rebellion?
Note 16:14, 16:19, and 17:27-28; compare to 20:4, 20:6, & 20:3 !

5. Read 20:1-6; compare with Shmot 17:1-8.
Based on your answer to question #4 above, what should have been Moshe and Aharon's initial reaction to Bnei Yisrael's complaint for water in 20:2-5?
How did Moshe and Aharon react?
In your opinion, was this reaction proper?
What was their reaction to the similar complaint raised by the nation as recorded in Shmot 17:1-5?
Was his reaction similar to his reaction to various other complaints raised by Bnei Yisrael in Sefer Bamidbar?
If so, bring examples.

6. How does Moshe's punishment relate to his 'sin?'
In other words, were Moshe and Aharon punished as individuals or as national leaders?
Explain your answer.

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

Part II - Questions for Preparation (for weekly shiur #2)
1. This week's Parsha begins with the laws of "tumat meyt" [laws pertaining to spiritual uncleanliness caused by touching a dead body].
Based on Bamidbar 9:1-8, prove that these laws must have been first given to Bnei Yisrael at an earlier time.
In your opinion, when do you think that they were first given?
Is it logical to assume that they were given before the Mishkan was first erected?
If so, explain why.
Is it logical to assume that they were given before Matan Torah?
If so, explain why.

See Rashi on Shmot 15:25.
According to this Rashi, when was this parsha first given?
What do you think leads Rashi to this conclusion?
[See also Ramban.]

2. In our shiur on Parshat Naso, we discussed the unique style of Sefer Bamidbar (where its ongoing narrative is periodically 'interrupted' by parshiot of mitzvot).
Would you consider parshat "para aduma" (chapter 19) typical of this style?
If so, what is the narrative that precedes these laws?
What is the narrative that follows these laws?
Do any of these two narratives involve death?
Based on your answer to question #1, how could this explain why the Torah chose to record this parsha here?
See Rashi on 20:1 ["va'tamot sham Miriam"...].
What leads Rashi to this conclusion?

3. In what year do the events recorded in Bamidbar chapter 20 take place?
[Base your answer on Bamidbar 33:37-39 in relation to 20:22-26. See also Ibn Ezra on 20:1]
In what year do the events recorded in Bamidbar chapters 16 thru 18 [the story of Korach's rebellion] take place?
Most likely, does it take place soon after the sin of the "meraglim?"
[See Ibn Ezra & Ramban on 16:1.]
In the gap between these two narratives (chapter 16 and chapter 20), approximately how many years elapse?
What happened during those years?
In your opinion, could parshat "para aduma" (and its laws) relate to this time period?
If so, how?

4. This incident of Mei Meriva takes place at Kadesh in Midbar Tzin (see 20:1).

    A. Where is Midbar Tzin located?
    [For those of you familiar with the map of Israel today, take a look on the map where the road to Eilat from Be'er Sheva meets the road to Eilat from the Dead Sea (near the "machtesh ha'katan" - the small crater). You should be able to find there "Nachal Tzin."]
    B. Is this the same location as Kadesh Barnea, from where the "meraglim" were sent?
    (Where is Midbar Paaran?)
    [To find that Kadesh, look on the map on Egyptian side of the Israeli-Egyptian border in the Negev, left of the Rimon Crater area.]
    C. Do you think that "Kadesh" was the original name of this site at Midbar Tzin, or was it named "Kadesh" because of the incident of Mei Meriva?
    (Relate to Bamidbar 20:1, 20:13 and 33:36 - cute?)
    Relate this to the nature of Moshe's punishment (20:12-13)!
    D. Carefully read Devarim 1:40-2:4.
    In 1:46, the Torah informs us that Bnei Yisrael encamped in Kadesh - "yamim rabbim" - for many days (most likely this implies many years; see Rashi 1:46).
    In your opinion, which Kadesh is this pasuk referring to: Kadesh Barnea or Kadesh Midbar Tzin?
    See Ibn Ezra Dvarim 1:46 and Bamidbar 20:14.
    Do you agree with his interpretation?

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

Part III - Parshanut
1. See Part I, question #3 above.

2. See Abrabanel on the end of chapter one of Sefer Devarim where he explains that Moshe does not actually sin at Mei Meriva; rather is punished due to Chet HaMeraglim [and Aharon because of Chet Ha'Egel].
In his pirush, he brings down ten different explanations of Moshe's sin at Mei Meriva and disproves each one!
See this Abrabanel inside; relate it to the questions in Part II above.

3. Read 20:1, note the use of the phrase "kol ha'eydah" - the entire "eydah."
In your opinion, what does the word "kol" add to this pasuk?
[In other words, how would the pasuk have a different meaning if the word "kol" was not included?]
[Can you recall any other times in Chumash when this phase "kol ha'eydah" has been used?
If not, try Shmot 16:1, 17:1 and Bamidbar 14:1, 17:6, and 20:27-29.
Can you explain in each of these instances what "kol" adds to the pasuk?]

Now see Rashi on 20:1.
What detail does Rashi learn for the word "kol?"
[Note Ibn Ezra as well. How does this relate?]

Finally, see Ramban.
How and why does he disagree with Rashi?
How does he explain "kol" here and in all of the other instances noted above?
How does he relate to Rashi's pirush concerning when the last members of the first generation died?
In your opinion, which pirush is "pshat" - Rashi's or Ramban's?

4. In regard to "smichut parshiot" -
In your opinion, where in Chumash does chapter 19 'belong?'
Why is it impossible to say that it was first given to Bnei Yisrael at this time?
[Note also Rashi on Shmot 15:25.]
Why do you think it is recorded here instead?

Now, see Ibn Ezra on 19:1 and Ramban on 19:1 (about 15 lines down) where he discusses why this parshia is recorded here.
Now see Chizkuni on 19:1.
In what manner is his pirush similar and in what manner is it very different from Ibn Ezra's and Ramban's?
Now see Rashi on 20:1 [d.h. "va'tamot sham Miriam"].
How is Rashi's pirush different that all of the above?