Shelach Lecha 5770

Posted on March 23, 2011

by Emily Mostow

This week, we read parshat Shlach. This is the famous parsha of the spies. Ten out of 12 of the spies come back with bad reports of the Promised Land, and God is angry. B’nai Yisrael has already committed many other sins, from the Golden Calf to complaining about the manna, and this is the one that tips the scale. Hashem says to Moshe: “I will strike them with a plague and annihilate them; then I will make you into a nation, greater and stronger than they” (Bamidbar 14:12).

At this point, Moshe could have given up on B’nai Yisrael and had his very own nation. That is not what he did. Instead, he pleaded with Hashem to save B’nai Yisrael. He insists that it would be a Chilul Hashem, a disgrace to the name of God, if B’nai Yisrael were to be destroyed, because all the surrounding nations would assume that it was because God wasn’t strong enough to conquer Canaan (Rashi).

Eight verses after Hashem had declared he would annihilate B’nai Yisrael, Hashem says to Moshe, “Salachti ki’dvarecha (I forgive by your words)” (Bamidbar 14:20). The Malbim tells us that this means Hashem will only forgive us according to Moshe’s prayer. Therefore, Hashem still punishes us, but does not destroy us.

We learn from here not to underestimate our own power. If Moshe had decided to give up on B’nai Yisrael, if he had decided we sinned a lot anyways and he could probably have a better nation of his own and Hashem had made up his mind and what was the use, we would not be here today. We should all try our best to emulate Moshe and never give up on what matters.