(Numbers 21:1-24:18)

(Haftara: Jeremiah 34:8-22, 33:25,26)

  1. [21:37] “…(the thief) will pay 5 cows for stealing a cow, and 4 sheep for stealing sheep.” The midrash says that God has mercy on a sheep thief because, unlike the cow thief, he humiliated himself by having to carry the sheep on his shoulders. Why does the Torah worry about the thief’s honour?
  2. [22:20] “…because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The Torah tells us not to oppress the stranger, and we are reminded that we were strangers in Egypt. In other commandments, we are not told to remember our own experiences. Why is this extra encouragement or motivation given with this commandment?
  3. [23:5] “When you see your enemy’s donkey suffering under its load…” What quality of personality is the Torah trying to develop in us by telling us to help our “enemy”? Why is this quality worth developing?
  4. [24:11] “…and they saw God and they ate and drank.” After having a very elevated vision of God, the elders ate and drank. Why would they eat and drink after such an experience?
  5. [Yirmiahu 34:9] “That everyone should let his slave…go free…” The Torah does not seem to like slavery, but slavery is allowed with very specific limitations. The Torah does not hesitate in forbidding many things. Why didn’t the Torah totally forbid slavery?

Commentary

Which is the way to love God and to be in awe of Him? When a person looks deeply into His actions and His wondrous creations, and he sees His limitless wisdom, immediately he loves and praises and deeply desires to know the great God.

–R. Moshe ben Maimon, the Rambam, 1135-1204, Spain and Egypt.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer