Answers to Torah Trivia questions.
Topic 1. Test your knowledge of Tanach (Jewish Bible).
Find a similar saying in the Tanach:
1. Out of sight, out of mind.
We say in Sh’ma (Bemidbar 15:39): “So that you don’t wander after your eyes and after your hearts”. Rashi explains that what the eyes see cause our hearts to wander.
2. Money can’t buy love.
Shir Hashirim 8:7: “If one were to give all his possessions to buy love, he would be utterly despised”.
3. Words can kill.
Mishley 18:21: “Life and death are in the hands of the tongue”.
4. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
Mishley 17:28: “Even a fool when quiet can appear wise”.
5. Two heads are better than one.
Kohelet 4:9: “Two are better than one”.
6. Love is blind. It is believed that for the first time in the world literature this idea is found in Plato: "The lover is blinded about the beloved". However this idea is expressed much earlier in the Bible. Where?
Mishley 10:12: “Love covers up all transgressions”.
7. Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are. We find a somewhat similar idea in the Torah that can be paraphrased as: "Tell me who your ideals are, and I'll tell you who you are." Where is this mentioned?
Mishley 27: 21: “As the crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold, so a person is tested by his praise”. According to R. Yonah the meaning of the verse is that a person is valued according to who or what he praises.
8. Usually, even when the Torah cites verses, they do not contain rhymes. But there are some exceptions. Where?
For example in Bereshit 4:23: “Ki Ish haragti lefitzi, veyeled lechaburati”.
9. Where does the Torah use a word play on the names of the three members of the same family?
See Bereshit 6:8, 9:26-27: Noach – Chen; Baruch Hashem Elokey Shem. Yaft Elokim LeYefet. Similarly Bereshit 49:8, 16, 19: Yehuda – Ata Yoducha. Dan Yadin. Gad Gedud.
10. Where does Torah mention the first "birthday" (yom huledet)?
Bereshit 40:20 mentions the birthday of Pharaoh.
11. Who is the longest living person mentioned in the Tanach after Moshe? (We are not referring to rabbinical Midrashim, we mean a person whose exact lifetime is mentioned in the Bible).
Yehoyada – 130 years (Divrey Hayamim 2:24:15).
15. This word appears in the Chumash (Pentateuch) only 14 times, but we pronounce it dozens of times each day. It’s the same in many languages and has become one of the most important words during prayer.
16. What is the longest word in the Chumash? In Tanach?
Shemot 7:28: åÌáÀîÄùÑÀàÂøåÉúÆéêÈ has 10 letters. In Tanach there are some words with 11 letters, in Megilat Ester 9:3 and in Yechezkel.
17. The expression: "forbidden fruit is sweet" seems to come from the story of Adam and Chava. However, the Torah does not say that the desire for the fruit was caused by the fact that it was proscribed. Where in the Tanach is an explicit verse that says that what’s forbidden tends to be more desirable?
Mishley 9:17: “Stolen waters are sweet, and food obtained in secret is pleasant”.
18. Find a name in Chumash that can be transformed into another name by permuting its letters?
Yosef – Vofsi (éåñó åôñé).
19. Find a name in the Nach (Neviim or Ketuvim) that can be transformed into another name by permuting its letters?
Iyov – Yoav (éåàá àéåá).
20. Military operations are often planned at the time the enemy changes the guards. Perhaps the earliest example of such an operation is in the Bible. Where?
The book of Shoftim (7:19) mentions that Gideon made sure to attack the Midianites (who vastly outnumbered his troops), at the time they were changing guards (two thirds into the night).
21. About which Biblical book is there greatest uncertainty regarding when it was written?
Iyov (Job). Some say he lived in the times of the patriarchs and the book was written my Moshe making it one of the earliest Bible books, others say he lived in the Second Temple time (and then presumably the book was written by the latest prophets).
22. What Biblical book is named like its author, but the author's name is unknown?
Malachi. Some say it’s the name of the prophet and others explain this not to be proper name but simply a messenger.
23. What living being is cited as an example of a hard worker in the book of Proverbs and in the world literature?
24. Which animal is commonly used in Talmudic parables and various proverbs around the world, but for some reason is not mentioned in the book of Proverbs?
Fox. While fox is mentioned in the Song of Songs, surprisingly this sly animal is never mentioned in Proverbs (Mishley).
Topic 2. Test your knowledge of Talmud and the Jewish Law.
Find a similar saying in the Talmud:
1. There is no smoke without fire.
See Moed Katan 18b. If someone is suspected of something it’s at least partially true. Even if he did not do it, he must have seen how someone else did it and was happy in his heart (instead of trying to chastise the evildoer).
2. The greatest of evils is poverty.
See Eiruvin 41b.
3. In the East or West, home is best.
See Sotah 47a. There are three kinds of affection: of a wife to her husband, of a place to its inhabitants and of a purchase to the buyer.
4. What is the link between the expressions "Way of Life" and "Teaches Understanding"?
These are two first parts of Shulchan Aruch: “Orach Chaim” and “Yore Deah”.
5. If the top of the etrog breaks off fulfilling the mitzvah becomes impossible. And how can it happen that after the top of the etrog broke even someone who already used it for a mitzvah is considered to retroactively not fulfill the commandment?
If one borrowed an etrog with condition that he will return it (al menat lehachzir), and later the top broke off, the condition is not met at the time of return, and so he did not fulfil the mitzvah retroactively.
6. As you know, many Sephardic Jews and Hasidim wear two tefillin simultaneously. Interestingly, in the Mishnah an opinion is mentioned that under certain circumstances any Jew is obliged to put on two tefillin. When is there such a situation?
See Mishna Eiruvin 10:1 when many pairs of tefillin are found on the street on Shabbat and they need to be quickly brought to a safe place by wearing them. One of the opinions is that one puts on two pairs at a time since there is enough space on one’s arm and head for two pairs of tefillin. However we don’t follow this opinion.
7. The Torah forbids eating parts of a living animal, but milk and eggs are permitted. Drinking kosher milk is permitted, since the Torah refers to the Land of Israel as a land flowing with milk and honey. And where is it hinted that eating eggs is also permitted?
When the Torah lists forbidden birds, one of them is “Bat Hayana” (a daughter of an ostrich) which according to Chazal means an egg. We thus learn that only an egg of non kosher species is forbidden, and it must be that eggs of kosher birds are permitted.
8. Once the rabbi, explaining the laws of baking matzo, was misunderstood. As a result, the next day everyone lined up to get pure water from him. What exactly did he say?
He said that for matza you need to use “mayim shelanu” water that staid inside overnight to cool down. He was misunderstood as “shelanu” can mean “our” water.
9. How can it be that because of the birth of Cohen, someone will not be allowed to eat Truman (holy food only a Cohen and his family can eat)?
If a woman who is a daughter of a cohen whose husband is not a cohen gets divorced or her husband dies, if she has no descendants from him, she can eat Truma. Thus if her own daughter married a cohen and had a child from him, that grandchild who is a cohen will make it forbidden for his grandmother to eat Truma (even when her daughter dies). Thus the birth of a cohen actually makes his grandmother not be able to eat truma.
10. How can it be that the firstborn is not the elder brother and elder brother is not the firstborn?
For example if twins were born, one at the end of First Adar and the other in the beginning of Second Adar. For instance their Bar mitzvahs can be in the opposite order, so the firstborn can become an adult after his other brother who can be halachichally older in their thirteen year.
Topic 3. Jewish riddles.
1. How is it possible that a woman can say to a man: “How are you my brother? How is your father who is my son’s brother?”
Yakov married Dina daughter of Leah, and his son Reuben married Leah. Yakov had a son Shimon, and Leah had a son Levi. Dina can say to Levi: How are you my (maternal) brother? How is your father (Reuben) who is my son’s (paternal) brother?”
2. These three fruits are from the same family. The name of the first comes from Aramaic, the second - from a non-Jewish language, and the third is a Modern Hebrew word, an abbreviation of two other words. The common name of the entire family in Modern Hebrew is the same as the Biblical name of the first of them. What fruits are these?
Etrog, Lemon and Orange. Etrog is an Aramaic word. Lemon is the same in Hebrew and this word (with its variations) is used already in the middle ages. Orange is called Tapuz which is short for Tapuach Zahav (golden apple). The name of citrus family is Hadar in Modern Hebrew which is how the Torah calls the Etrog.
3. What is the relationship between the numbers 6, 14, 4?
This is the 3 divisions of Oral Law and Halacha in the 3 most important codes in history: 6 Sidrey Mishna, 14 books of Rambam, 4 parts of Shulchan Aruch.
4. A Hasid dines every day in a non-kosher restaurant including oysters and pork, while not violating any prohibition. How is this possible?
He is a non-Jewish Hasid (Chasid Umot Haolam) who has to keep only 7 Mitzvot Bney Noach.
5. A person says to someone: you and I are cousins, your father is also a cousin of mine, and your mother is a cousin of mine. How is this possible?
For example, if there are three brothers: Reuben, Shimon and Levi, Shimon married one daughter of Reuben and the son of Levi married his other daughter. Shonim’s son is a maternal cousin of the grandson of Levi. The father of that grandson is a paternal cousin of Shinom. And the mother of that grandson is a paternal cousin of Shimon (Yevamot 97b).
Topic 4. Multiple Choice Questions:
1. Which of these names in the Chumash (Pentateuch) does not belong to two different people?
a) Joseph b) Korach c) Eliezer d) Elazar e) Reuel
d). There is only one Elazar in the Torah.
2. According to our sages, who said the following statement and to whom it was said: "We are suffering with the first ones, and you come to add to them?"
a) Moses addressing to the Jewish people b) the Jewish elders addressing Moses c) Almighty, addressing Moshe d) Aaron addressing Moshe e) Yakov addressing Yosef
3. Which of the following pairs of names are never two names of one person:
a) Yov - Yashuv b) Gershon - Gershom c) Deuel - Reuel d) Hoshea - Yehoshua e) Eliezer - Elazar f) Yedidia – Shlomo
e). Eliezer and Elazar are two different names. Gershon however is sometimes called Gershom (see Divrey Hayamim 1:6:1). The other choices are all pairs of names of the same individual.
4. What is the longest book of the Tanakh (in terms of the number of words):
a) The Book of Samuel b) in the Book of Psalms c) Bereshit d) Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles) e) Melachim (Kings)
e) Melachim has more words than any other book (though the number of verses is greatest in Psalms).
5. What is the longest tractate of the Mishnah?
a) Sanhedrin b) in Shabbat c) Yevamot d) Bava Batra e) Kelim
e) Kelim has 30 chapters, more than twice longer than any other tractate.
6. Which of the following prohibited women can never be permitted (select all that apply)
a) wife's sister b) the wife of brother c) non-Jewish woman d) wife's mother e) uncle’s wife
d and e. Wife’s sister can become permitted if she wife dies. Brother’s wife can be permitted through yibum if the brother dies childless. Non-Jewish woman can convert.
7. Two precious stones of Ephod had the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed on them. There are several opinions about the order in which they were written. Which of the following is not an order according to any opinion?
a) Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Yissahar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin
b) Yehuda, Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Yissahar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin
c) Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yissahar, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Joseph, Benjamin
d) Reuven, Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yissahar, Zebulun, Joseph, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Benjamin
e) Shimon, Levi, Yehuda, Yissahar, Joseph, Benjamin, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, Naphtali
Correct answer is d). Other combinations are mentioned in various sources, see for instance “The Living Torah” by R. Arye Kaplan, Shemot 28:10.
8. Which of the book has an expression similar to: “the fall of dropping water wears away the stone”?
a) Book of Mishle (Proverbs) b) Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) c) Iyov (Job) d) Tehillim (Psalms) e) Yeshayahu (Isaiah)
c) Iov (14:19): “as water wears away stones …”
9. Which books has a parable similar to: "Birds of a feather flock together"?
a) Book of Mishle b) Tehillim c) Bemidbar d) Ben Sira e) Yehoshua
d) Ben Sira (27:9). This Sefer is not part of our Bible but is sometimes quoted in the Talmud. This particular verse is quoted in Baba Kama 92b.
10. Which of these prophets has the parable: "Jumping from the frying pan into the fire?"
a) Amos b) Hoshea c) Micha g) Zephaniah d) Zehariah
a) Amos (5:19): “As a man who ran from a lion only to meet a bear, then escaped into a house, leaned his hand against the wall and was bitten by a poisonous snake”.
11. Which of the following sayings are not written in the book of Kohelet?
a) The end is better than the beginning
b) Working is better than resting
c) Better the rebuke of the wise than the song of fools
d) Good name is better than good oil
e) Two are better than one
b). There is no such statement. The others are all in Kohelet (7:8, 7:5, 7:1 and 4:9).
12. Which of these is literally mentioned in Chumash in regarding to a mitzvah we perform today:
a) Etrog b) Shofar c) Tefillin d) Menorah e) Tzitzit
e) Tzitzit. (The other words are not called this way in the Torah. Etrog is called Hadar, Shofar is not mentioned in regards to Rosh Hashana, Tefilin is called Ot and Totafot, Menorah is not mentioned in regards to Chanuka as this a later rabbinical enactment).
13. Which of these bodies of water is not mentioned in the Torah by this name:
a) Lake Kinneret b) The Jordan (Yarden) River c) Salt Sea (Yam Hamelech) d) Mediterranean Sea (Hayam Hatichon) e) Zered River.
d. In the Torah the Mediterranean is called Great Sea (Hayam Hagadol).
14. Arrange these people in chronological order, from the one birth first to the one born last: R. Akiva, Hillel, Rambam, Ramban, R. Shimon Bar Yochai, R. Yohanan Ben Zakai, Arizal, R. Yosef Caro.
a) Hillel, R. Akiva, R. Shimon Bar Yochai, R. Yohanan Ben Zakai, Rambam, Ramban, Arizal, R. Yosef Caro.
b) Hillel, R. Akiva, R. Yohanan Ben Zakai, R. Shimon Bar Yochai, Rambam, Ramban, Arizal, R. Yosef Caro.
c) Hillel, R. Yohanan Ben Zakai, R. Akiva, R. Shimon Bar Yochai, Rambam, Ramban, R. Yosef Karo, Arizal.
d) R. Akiva Hillel, R. Yohanan Ben Zakai, R. Shimon Bar Yochai, Rambam, Ramban, R. Yosef Karo, Arizal.
e) Hillel, R. Yohanan Ben Zakai, R. Akiva, R. Shimon Bar Yochai, Rambam, Ramban, Arizal, R. Yosef Caro.
c). R. Yosef Caro was born before Arizal though he died a little later.
15. Find the pattern: Passover - 4, Purim - 3, the Ninth of Av - 2. Rosh Hashanah -?
a) 1 b) 2) c) 3 d) 4 e) 5
d). The numbers represent the number of letters in the month when this holiday is celebrated.
16. Passover - 4, Shavuot - 4, Rosh Hashanah - 2. Yom Kippur -?
a) 1 b) 2) c) 3 d) 4 e) 5
b). The number represents the number of biblical books where this holiday is mentioned.
17. Passover – 2,3, Sukkot – 3,3, Rosh Hashanah - 1,1, Shavuot -?
a) 2,4 b) 2,5 c) 3,4 d) 4,5 e) 3,3
b). These are the books of Chumash from where we read the Torah portions during the first two days of the holiday. On Shavuot we read from Shemot and Devarim (2,5).
18. All of the following prayers use acrostic in alphabetical or opposite to alphabetical order. However there are some Jewish communities that don’t use acrostic in one of these. Which one:
a) Pesuke Dezimra b) Brachot of Shema c) Shmone Esre d) Viduy
Pesuke Dezimra has alphabetical acrostic in Ashrey, Brachot of Shema in the first brocha, Viduy is also in acrostic. However Shmone Esre only has an acrostic in Musaf of Shabbat and some communities (in Morocco and other places) don’t say than nusach (see also Tur, Orach Chaim 286). Correct answer is c.