Parshat Yitr

(Numbers 18:1-20:23)

(Haftara: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5,6)

  1. [19:5] “…you will be my own treasure from among all the nations…” On the one hand, we are told that we are God’s special nation. On the other hand we are commanded to be humble and not feel superior to people. How can we resolve this contradiction?
  1. [20:2] “I am the Lord your God…” Traditionally, we say that this is the first of the commandments and we are being commanded to believe in God. R. Chasdai Crescas (Spain, 1300’s) says that if we are listening to the ten commandments, then obviously, we believe in the One who commands—we don’t need a commandment to believe. Do you think that it is appropriate to command people to believe in God?
  2. [20:12] “Honour your father and your mother…” R. Chaim Falagi (1820, Turkey) says that we don’t need a commandment to honour our parents. That comes natural to us. This commandment is telling us that if we have unreasonable or disturbed parents, we must also honour them. Do you agree with his interpretation?
  1. [20:12] “Honour your father and your mother…” We are commanded to “love your neighbour as yourself”. Doesn’t that include honouring? Are there limits on honouring someone other than one’s parents? Why is there a special commandment to honour one’s parents?
  1. [Haftara: Yeshayahu 6:9] “…you hear but you don’t understand. You see, but you don’t really know.” If they already see and hear, but don’t really understand, what can a prophet do for them? Don’t they need a leader to re-educate them, rather than a prophet to again tell them that they are doing wrong? What can a prophet do for them?


Faith is pure when it is full of inner feelings without self-deception and without ulterior motives…Someone who is intelligent will not be content without rational thinking. For him, a genuine faith will not be real unless it is illuminated by reason.

–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.


This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


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