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Sh’lach • 5773 • שלח־לך
As directed, Moshe sends out 12 spies, one from each tribe, to reconnoiter the Land of Israel. Moshe changes Hoshea’s name to Joshua. Moshe gives the spies specific orders on what to look for. The spies travel the length and width of Israel and bring back remarkable fruits, grapes, figs and pomegranates. After 40 days, the spies return with an evil report, actually instigating a revolution against Moshe and Aaron, wishing to return to Egypt! Only Calev and Joshua refuse to give in to defeatism and negativity.
Calev and Joshua beseech the people to follow them into Israel, the Promised Land of Blessings, but too depressed, they respond with wanting to stone these two righteous scouts. G-d contemplates the Israelite’s destruction because of their gross lack of Faith. Moshe pleads with G-d for mercy and clemency. G-d pardons Israel but decrees none of this generation will enter the Land of Israel except Calev and Joshua.
G-d decrees, with all of its curses, are told to the Israelites. The leaders of the revolt die in a plague. As a contrite showing of remorse, a group tries to gain entrance to the Land of Israel. Although warned by Moshe not to try, they continue and are beaten by the Amalekites and Canaanites. The Aliyah concludes with details of how to bring a freewill or vow offering into the sanctuary.
The Laws of Offerings continue here, including the “Burnt Offering”, “Peace Offering”, “Meal Offering” and “Drink Offering”. There is only one set of rules for all, regardless of birthright, birthplace or place of origin. G-d continues to give Laws pertaining to Life in the Land of Israel. “Challah” must be given to the Priests. If the entire nation accidentally sins, a community sacrifice must be brought. If they do, they will be forgiven. The Law of the Individual Accidental Sinner is likewise given here. A deliberate, premeditated sinner has no sacrifice, he is “cut off” forever. A man caught gathering wood for a fire on Shabbat and is “arrested.” His sentence is decreed and the Israelites stoned him. This Aliyah ends with a famous description of the TziTzit Mitzvah.
MAFTIR Numbers 15:37 – 41 ~ page 633-634
HAFTARAH Joshua 2:1-24 ~ page 635-637
From Shittim, in the Jordan valley, Joshua sends two spies to bring back a report on Canaan. After secretly crossing the river Jordan, they are hidden by Rahab under stalks of flax on the roof of her house built on the walls of Jericho, so as to avoid capture by the king’s men. She then helps them to escape by lowering them over the city wall on their undertaking that her life and the lives of her family will be spared. After hiding in the mountains for three days, until the pursuers abandon the hunt, the spies return to Joshua and assure him of victory, for the Canaanites are terrified at the prospect of invasion.
PARASHAH STUDY QUESTIONS
1. In verse 3:1-2, G-d COMMANDS Moshe to send the spies, however in Deut. 1:22 (page 740) Moshe states the people REQUESTED to send spies. Any thoughts?
2. If the spies note that Israel is truly the “Land of Milk & Honey” why don’t they bring back samples of that (v. 13:27) instead of fruit?
3. Calev and Yehoshua said the Canaanites “are like bread to us” (14:9). What is the root word of the Hebrew for ‘bread’ and what words do you know that are associated with it?
4. According to Hebraicists, the root of the verb ‘to murmur’ (ohbhkn) and the noun ‘complaints’ (,ubuk,) is lun~iuk “to rest” or “to sleep.” What???
5. Upon entering the Land of Israel, we received the mitzvah of “separating challah” (15:17-21). Why wasn’t the mitzvah obligative in the desert? Why is the mitzvah still observed even after the destruction of the Temple?