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Parsha Shalach — danger of sending out spies




The God when He gave us the Bible set a yearly cycle by which it is suggested to illuminate (read) in the Holy “Book”. Concerning the parsha (portion) for this week:

Parsha Shalach                                                  UPDATE 8/18/2020


In the beginning of the parshah On the verse, “Send for yourself men and let them spy out the land of Canaan” (Bamidbar 13:2), Rashi cites the Sages  saying: “Send for yourself. according to your own understanding. I am not commanding you, but if you wish, you may send this is according to the Midrash Tanchumah Parsha Shelach..” This happened becouse  the Children of Israel had approached Moshe and said, “Let us send men ahead of us” (Devarim 1:22), prompting Moshe to ask Hashem for advice. Hashem replied: “I told them that the land was good”, as it is written: ‘I shall bring you up from the affliction of Egypt…to a land flowing with milk and honey’ [Shemot 3:17]. The Steipler Goan says that when the spies enter the land Joshua and Calev were pursued night and day from the very day they arrived, they were hunted with a vengeance, while the other spies went unnoticed but what they choose to notice was the problem. The “meraglim” (“spies”) who were sent to scout out the land, ten of whom returned with a terrible and frightening report By their words the children of Yisrael set up a opportunity to transgress against God and the words of the spies, was the beginning of the very evil result, resulting in the whole generation  not inheriting the land.” Their mistake was thinking that their lives were subject to the same natural order as every none else. But in truth  their ultimate success did not depended on their own military prowess, The God had been working for Yisrael supernatural providence time and time again. What were they thinking ? This was a grievous error.

    The people were told that they had to remain in the desert for the next 40 years, during which time the adult generation would die. At this point the Torah skips over the next thirty-eight years in the desert. The Natziv explains that this time was a transition between these two generations. A time of change from a period in the desert where the Israelites were  living by revealed miracles  to where the Israelites will be living by nature in The Land of Israel.  But even with this Moses wanted the Israelites to know that even though they would be required to secure a livelihood in the natural setting of Israel. The final result would depend no less on God than when the manna which descended directly from Heaven.

 After this  a lengthy 40 year desert sojourn, the people received other commandments. In addition to the burnt-offerings, feast-offerings we were commanded to bring meal-offerings and libations.  Also given to the people is the commandments of removing “challah” and tithing the harvest. A “sin offering” was ordered for anyone who non intentionally sinned, and the people are commanded to stone the intentional transgressor of Shabbat . We also get here  the commandment of “Tzitzit”, the commandment to tie fringes to a garment that has four corners. This commandment is one of the special commandments in the Torah whose purpose is clearly written in a manner that cannot be ignored:

It is written “ And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the people of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a thread of blue”

The Meshech Chochma says that, We  humans  say about God, He is absolute and perfect. We might have expected, then, that the reality He created would be perfect as well. But when we look around us, or at ourselves, we discover that reality is far from perfect. Human reality is also composed of impurity and sin, injustice and mistakes. The gap between the Creator of the Universe and the world He created can be explained based on the verse from Psalms (115, 16): “The heavens are heavens of the Lord, but the earth He gave to the children of men”. G-d created a reality that is not perfect because He gave it to humans to control and to determine whether or not it would reflect Divine values and thus become perfect, or, heaven forbid, the opposite. This is why we all ways have “Tzizit” to remind us of the commandments which are the perfection of the world and man.

 The greatness of the mitzvah of tzitzit is described by our Sages: “This mitzvah is equal to all the mitzvot together” (Menachot 43b). Rashi explains the reasoning behind this: “Because the numerical value of the tzitzit is 600. [Add to this] 8 threads and 5 knots, and we have 613.”The Torah also states “You shall not go after your eyes or your heart that lead you astray”. Meaning away from the way of GOD. As the sitzet allude to all the commandments as the numerical value of sitzet plus their 8 threads and 5 knots equals 613 (all the commandments). Do not follow your eyes astray, but contemplate the commandments which direct us in the way which is upright. Do not follow your heart astray but love GOD. As mistakes begin when one acts in a way not prescribed by the Torah. Like in our parsha the sages say GOD never told Yisreal to send spies. That is why the parsha begins with the words “send to you spies”. The people asked for this. GOD certainly did not need them to be sent. So it should not be surprising that their mission did not turn out well. This is where things begin to go wrong. Wrong for a long time as this was the 9th of Av. The day of destruction of both temples. Since GOD did not say to send out spies, the spies became filled and obsessed with excessive desires for honor. When arrogance rises upon one’s heart, the Shechinah (Divine Presence) flees. As the 2 do not dwell together. From this they were caught in their own sin. The sin of the spies has not yet been fully forgiven. For the next 39 years the generation of the desert would dig their own graves every Ninth of Av and went to sleep in them. The next morning  some did not wake up ever again. The day the spies brought their bad report became the saddest day in our calendar, the Ninth of Av. It’s the day both Temples were destroyed on.  We need to understand the exact nature of the sin of the spies so that we don’t repeat it. Their sin resulted in all Yisrael losing faith. As is written “our brothers have made our hearts melt”. This is much like todays false leaders who say ”there is no way to stop the rockets that hit our cities daily”, but this is ever so far from the truth. There is a simple solution ”overwhelming military force”. They did in, “Operation Cast Lead”, and the rockets stopped , for a while. Though in the future more ”overwhelming military force” may be required, until it becomes learned that peace is a better way. Also there are those who discourage others from settling in the Holy land saying its to difficult to live there and they have every excuse in the book and then some. Some in the generation of leaving Egypt did not want to Go into the Holy Land as they knew when they did Moses would die as he was told by God he could not enter the land. But the truth of the matter is “Saddikim” (Holy men) never die, but that the soul of Moses is revealed in every “Saddik” of the generation.

After the parsha speaks about a man killed for profaning the Shabbot by gathering sticks. The Parsha begins talking about “Sitzet” .We may not be allowed to wear Tefillin on Shabbot which are a constant reminder of God Therefore God reminds us that we have another of him “ tzitzit “. So words concerning of “tzitzit” come here to remind us the even if we don’t wear “Tefillin” on Shabbot we still have the “Sitzet” to remind us of Hashem. Also we can learn from the juxtaposition of “Parsha Sitzet” next to the  parsha that speaks about a man killed for profaning the Shabbot,  that a dead person, is obligated to wear “tzitzis”, The greatness of the mitzvah of tzitzit is described by our Sages: “This mitzvah is equal to all the mitzvot together” (Menachot 43b).


The sages warned us against these false leaders when they wrote almost 2000 years ago concerning these times in the ancient manuscript “Signs of the Messiah” we are told that before Redemption GOD will stand up kings over his people Yisreal who will reject his Torah in their dat (knowledge). They will be liars, But they will see themselves as those who serve GOD, but they do not. They will be disgusting. They will confuse all creation. Even the transgressors among Yisrael will be further removed from the redemption by these leaders who reject GOD, and the fear of Him. This will be a generation where truth is despised. At this time Yisrael will be without a king or true leader, alter or sacrifices. This generation will suffer because of harsh decrees that are different, strange and tragic made by these kings who reject GOD . They will make atheistic rulings against the Temple, GOD and his Torah.

Towards the end of the parsha some men went up to the land, it says ”the ark was not with them”. They went of their own accord. GOD had not told them to take the land at that time, but they went up anyway. Like the spies their action was not in accordance with Divine will, so how could it be successful ?. Only if our actions are in accordance with the Torah, Divine will, can we succeed in the end. The people could not enter the land till they were ready and could go with the Ark. With out the Torah one just doesn’t stand a chance in the Holy land. As the verse states “The land is a land that consumes its inhabitants”. R. Ostrowicze explains “its inhabitants” which literally in Hebrew means those who sit are consumed by the land. As the Holy land will not allow one to stay who is not moving higher and higher in Holiness. The prophets warn us concerning this as Isiah says:

In that day shall the plant of YHVH shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be excellent and beautiful for those that remain of Israel. And it will come to pass that he that remains in Zion and He that remains in Jerusalem shall be called Holy,” (4:2)

The tribe of Levi did not send a man to spy out the land with the rest of Yisrael. Because the tribe of Levi did not make their living by farming. They  serve as priests and Levites in the Temple and teach Torah. They lived off the various tithes from the other tribes. They lived in 48 cities that were given to them, which were surrounded by parks, but they possessed no agricultural territory. When spying out the land of Israel the soul of Joseph entered the body of the spy of the tribe of Menasheh. So it’s written: “ the tribe of Joseph, of the tribe of Menasheh”. The Talmud Yerushalmi teaches concerning the name change of  Hoshea to  Yehoshua at the beginning of our parsha an extra ‘yud’ is needed. It came from the ‘yud’ from the name Sarai, mother of our people, wife of Avraham, when her name changed to become Sarah. The free ‘yud’ that was taken from Sarai was added to the name of Hoshea, to enable him to become Yehoshua. Only 2 out of the12 chosen men best of their tribes passed their tests. Only  Yehoshua and Caleb ben YefunehCaleb ben Yefuneh HaKenizi according to the Talmud is the same as Caleb, ben Hetzron, of I Chronicles 2:18. There, we read that Caleb married a woman named Azuvah, and when she died, took a new wife called Efrat. Caleb’s son with Efrat was Hur, whose son was Uri, whose son was the famous Betzalel, craftsman of the Mishkan. Moshe feared for Joshua’s safety as he was from the tribe of Ephraim (Joseph’s son), and Joseph once gave an evil report about his brothers. Therefore in an attempt to protect Joshua , Moshe added the letter “yud” to his name.

   All Jewish people need to feel, get in touch with their soul’s natural love for the Holy land ! To engage in that that momentous “Aliyah” (Going up) from the Diaspora to the Holy Land is so HUGE. Love the land appreciate how fortunate we are to have Israel, our God given homeland should be a central to our Jewish lives. Today many religious Jews do  not focus on discovering the Holiness of The  Holy Land. If they do go to Israel they go only  as tourists. Not coming to “explore” the Holiness of The Land so their eyes are closed. Many are so foolish these days  they only speak about the defects they find in The Land. Making excuses for not living or even coming to The Holy Land to feeding their soul and fulfill the Biblical commandment to live in The Holy Land. It sounds like they are involved in the sin of the spies. It did not turn out well for them ?  Those who portray an unfairly negative image of Israel within our society will be held accountable, look what happened to the spies in our parsha. They were thrown from greatness hard and fast .

We need to become zealous for Hashem and his Holy Land every Jew that possible can should move to the Holy Land and begin living the Holiest Life possible ! Live with zeal , in this weeks parsha a man named Tzlofchod  goes out and gathers sticks on Shabbot in public deliberately and is sentenced to death 

There are those who say  Tzlofchod violated the laws of Shabot intentionally  for the right reasons. He wanted to show the people the severity of Shabot violation. When people would see him stoned for desecrating Shabbos this sight would have a strong impact and act as a deterrent.  There are three opinions which law of Shabot he transgressed: carrying four amot in the public domain, uprooting , maamer and heaping. (Gemora Shabbos 96b)


   We see in the parsha even after the spies bring back a bad report and GOD is very disappointed with us, and wants to bring severe judgment. The intercession of Moshe saves us. R. Yochanon states ”wherever you find greatness you find meekness”. GOD wishes the world to acknowledge him, then He will suspend justice and retribution to further this end. For this reason we must appeal to GOD for mercy upon his people as the hour is ”dark”, as enemies surround us. With Divine intervention we will find protection and Peace. With a complete redemption with our righteous Messiah and the Holy Temple built Quickly in our days. AMEN