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ב"ה

Riddles

Friday, 17 April, 2015 - 1:00 pm

The Internet has been in knots this week trying to figure out a birthday math riddle.

The question, taken from a high school math test in Singapore, goes like this:

Albert and Bernard just met Cheryl. “When’s your birthday?” Albert asked Cheryl.

Cheryl thought a second and said, “I’m not going to tell you, but I’ll give you some clues.” She wrote down a list of 10 dates:

May 15, May 16, May 19

June 17, June 18

July 14, July 16

August 14, August 15, August 17

“My birthday is one of these,” she said.

Then Cheryl whispered in Albert’s ear the month — and only the month — of her birthday. To Bernard, she whispered the day, and only the day.

“Can you figure it out now?” she asked Albert.

Albert: I don’t know when your birthday is, but I know Bernard doesn’t know, either.

Bernard: I didn’t know originally, but now I do.

Albert: Well, now I know, too!

When is Cheryl’s birthday?

Responses on the internet varied from professing the answer to statements like, “Just check her Facebook.”

(BTW, here’s the answer).

What’s amazing about this is the varying degree of responses – and interest – in this riddle. Some are intrigued, others challenged and yet others dismissive or disinterested.

***

In this week’s parsha Shemini we find Moshe challenging his brother Ahron’s behavior, along with his sons. Being the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), Ahron had many duties and the discussion revolved around the Temple rituals.

Ahron responded with an explanation of his behavior. Upon hearing this the Torah reports, “And Moshe heard this, and it was favorable in his eyes.”

The Talmud explains that “Moshe was not ashamed to admit his error; he did not say "I did not hear this," but said, "I heard it and I forgot it."

The Midrash takes it a step further: “He issued a proclamation to all the camp, saying: "I made an error in regard to the law, and Ahron my brother came and taught it to me.”

***

We may not have all the answers, but if we are honest about our knowledge and eager to learn more, we are following in the ways of the Torah.

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