Shelach Lecha 5769

Posted on March 23, 2011

by Yedidya Ben-Avie

June 20, 2009/28 Sivan 5769

This week we read Parsha Shelach Lecha. It is one of the most important parshiot because it explains why the Israelites spent so many years in the wilderness before entering the land of Israel. Also in this parsha, is the third paragraph of the Shema, and the scriptural basis for needing ten people for a minyan.

The parsha immediately starts talking scouting Eretz Yisrael. Moshe picked one chieftain from each tribe to be part of the scouting mission. Unlike before when it was Hashem who chose representatives from each tribe, Moshe doing the choosing shows that G-d didn’t approve of this mission.

Moshe gave the scouts a list of things to look for in order to see whether the land was good. The scouts went in and scouted the land. They found giant people living behind fortified walls.

When the scouts returned, they caused panic in the community by reporting that the inhabitants would surely devour the Israelites if they were to invade. “And we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them.” (Numbers 13:33)

According to the Etz Chaim Chumash, the scout’s failure was that they didn’t have faith in themselves or in G-d. Surely with G-d’s presence in their midst they would win any battle.

Of the scouts, only Joshua and Caleb spoke to the goodness of the land. They reaffirmed their faith in Hashem and the promise of victory.

Angry, G-d punished B’nai Israel to wander the wilderness for forty years. All but Caleb and Joshua, who had given positive reports, were to die in the wilderness so that the next generation would enter the promised land.

The Etz Chaim Chumash emphasizes that Joshua and Caleb stood up to the majority and were rewarded. This means that although there was much peer pressure to also give a negative report, they stood up for what they believed in and came out better for it.

So while you probably won’t be dealing with any situation on this scale, think about what you say and how you say it. Even though all the scouts were chieftains in their tribes, they didn’t realize the panic their words would bring. And if there is a majority against you, don’t betray your beliefs.