Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Game: Where is the pasuk (verse)?

I've often noticed how our children in mainstream yeshivos are taught midrashim almost as if they were written in the very text of the Torah itself. After all, just about every first grader knows that the Chumash describes Avraham's harrowing ordeal in the Furnace or how he destroyed all the idols in his father's shop one day. Of course, none of this is recorded in the Chumash itself, along with details of many, many other midrashim that are taught as verbatim history to our children.

As such, I'm going to give my kids a test, and see how they perform. I'm going to ask them to find me the pasuk that says the following:


Find me the pasuk where...

... Avraham discovers God through self-deduction at age three.
... Rivka was three years old when she married Yitzchock
... that Ya'akov learned in the Yeshiva of Shem and Ever for fourteen years.
... that Dinah was hidden in a box.

Life in Egypt & the Exodus

... that the Jews had six children at once.
... that Moshe was born on the seventh of Adar.
... that when the Egyptians hit the frogs they split into multiple frogs.
... that there was someone dead in *every* Egyptian household after the final plauge.
... that the sea split into twelve separate pathways.
... that Nachshon ben Aminadav was the first person to jump into the sea.

In the Wilderness

... that God held Mt. Sinai over the heads of K'lal Yisrael.
... that the Jews perished (and were ressurected) with each word spoken by HKBH.
... that the Mann could taste like whatever the taster wanted.

That's probably enough. These are things that every school child in yeshiva knows and probably believes to be written in the Chumash itself. I'm going to ask my kids over the next few days to find the pesukim where these things are written - I'm curious to see what the result will be.

The answers, by the way, are:

Answer: (highlight to see):
Only the item about every Egyptian household having dead is actually a pasuk. The rest are from later sources.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

Oooooooooooooh gooodie..Wolfie Jeopardy!

Ezzie said...

Oooh, some of my faves. It's actually more fun to ask these questions of yeshiva guys. Trust me. :)

Anonymous said...

Exodus 12:30:

And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

Anonymous said...

The larger question is what is the significance of the fact that these stories are "only" midrashim. Even the Rambam took some of these stories as historical fact -- the stories of Abraham in Ur Casdim are fundamental to Hilchos AZ.

BrooklynWolf said...

True, Krum. I wasn't advocating throwing them away or even interpreting them non-literally because they are "only midrashim." I just found it interesting that it seems like some kids know the midrashim better than the actual Chumash.

The Wolf

PsychoToddler said...


Now I got this yellow highlighter stain on my monitor!

queeniesmom said...

Great Post.

The shem v'aver is one of our favorites. 14 years to learn 7 commandments - has any one ever done the math?

Pleeze, as Joan Rivers would say.

So have you figured out how to merge your 2 kihellas together and for a new bigger and better supersized version?

Shabbat Shalom.

Anonymous said...

".. that Moshe was born on the seventh of Adar."

I believe this one is biblical. It says that they mourned for 30 days. Then, they prepared for 3 days in Yehoshua. Then they crossed on 10 Nissan. Shma Mina. No?

Anonymous said...

oh yeah anbd that he died when he was 120 years old "today", establishing his birthdate. (Though today could mean now, rather than today, but it is defendable.)

BrooklynWolf said...

I removed one comment becuase it was rather nasty and had nothing to do with the subject at hand.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...


I purposely wrote that Moshe was *born* on 7 Adar. The fact that he died on 7 Adar can be inferred (although there is nothing to indicate that there weren't any intermediate days in there). But the fact that he died on his birthday is not written anywhere in TaNaKh.

The Wolf

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Interesting idea (quizzing the kids, I mean). I'd be curious to hear how it turned out.

There is no question that midrashim are taught as a seemless blend with the Torah. This is at least as old as the Targumim which are halakhic and midrashic.

seraphya said...

I love this game, I usually play it with which parsha is it in though

Story: a friend of mine was the only person in her class at a MO high school to get the answer right to this sort of question first of all becuase she had friends like me and second of all she didn't go to a jewish day school for elemntry