Friday, June 13, 2008

Heaps of birds

Regarding the quail that HaShem sent to the encampment of Bnei Yisroel, it says that the one who collected the smallest number of the quails collected 10 heaps (11:32). How is this number arrived at?

I heard an explanation this morning in the name of the Gra. We know from a variety of sources (e.g., Brachos 54b) that the size of the camp of Bnei Yisroel in the desert was 3 parsa'os by 3 parsa'os, approximately 12 km (7 mi) in each direction. Hence, the furthest that a person could be from an edge of the camp, where the birds fell (as per 11:31), was 1.5 parsa'os. The average foot speed of a person is 1 mil every 18 minutes, or 1 parsah in 72 minutes. 11:32 states that Bnei Yisroel gathered the quail "all that day and all that night and all of the next day". In 36 hours, a person could travel 30 parsa'os, which is the equivalent of 10 round trips to and from the edge of the camp for a person who lived as far away from an edge as possible.

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At 6/15/2008 1:52 PM, Blogger Barzilai said...

Very interesting. Yasher Koach.

At 6/15/2008 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm going to quibble with your idea that the slav only fell at the edges of the camp... it says "vayitosh AL hamacheneh"
moreover, it says that the slav fell in an area "a full day's walk in each direction" so somebody who got unlucky and had to go all the wait to stake his claim would have only made one round trip.

At 6/15/2008 9:07 PM, Blogger Josh M. said...

See Bamidbar 2:20 for an example of al meaning "next to". Good point about k'derech yom ko, though.

At 6/19/2008 11:56 AM, Blogger Chaim B. said...

This pshat is brought down by the Netziv IIRC.


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