Torah Weekly

For the week ending 2 July 2016 / 26 Sivan 5776

Parshat Shlach

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

This week Shlach Lecha is read in Israel and Beha’alotcha is read outside of Israel

Overview

At the insistence of Bnei Yisrael, and with G-d's permission, Moshe sends 12 scouts, one from each tribe, to reconnoiter Canaan. Anticipating trouble, Moshe changes Hoshea's name to Yehoshua, expressing a prayer that G-d not let him fail in his mission. They return 40 days later, carrying unusually large fruit. When 10 of the 12 state that the people in Canaan are as formidable as the fruit, the men are discouraged. Calev and Yehoshua, the only two scouts still in favor of the invasion, try to bolster the people's spirit. The nation, however, decides that the Land is not worth the potentially fatal risks, and instead demands a return to Egypt. Moshe's fervent prayers save the nation from Heavenly annihilation. However, G-d declares that they must remain in the desert for 40 years until the men who wept at the scouts' false report pass away. A remorseful group rashly begins an invasion of the Land based on G-d's original command. Moshe warns them not to proceed, but they ignore this and are massacred by the Amalekites and Canaanites. G-d instructs Moshe concerning the offerings to be made when Bnei Yisrael will finally enter the Land. The people are commanded to remove challa, a gift for the kohanim, from their dough. The laws for an offering after an inadvertent sin, for an individual or a group, are explained. However, should someone blaspheme againstG-d and be unrepentant, he will be cut off spiritually from his people. One man is found gathering wood on public property in violation of the laws of Shabbat and he is executed. The laws of tzitzit are taught. We recite the section about the tzitzit twice a day to remind ourselves of the Exodus.

Insights

A Nod’s as Good as a Wink to a Blind Man

“They returned from spying out the Land… They went and they came to Moshe and Aharon and to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel… and brought back the report to them and the entire assembly. They reported to him and said…” (13:25-27)

Innuendo is the weapon of choice of the slanderer. Far more vitriol can be implied with a wink or a nudge than with damning words.

“I really can’t tell you anymore…” The ellipsis that leaves a sentence infinitely unfinished is more condemning than mere words can ever be. The rising inflection that never returns downward, or the hanging pause that speaks volumes — “No really, I’ve said too much already!” These are the tools of trade of successful character assassination.

“They returned from spying out the Land… They went and they came to Moshe and Aharon and to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel… and brought back the report to them and the entire assembly. They reported to him and said…”

Notice that in the first sentences the spies addressed the “entire assembly”, and then the Torah says that they reported to “him” — i.e., to Moshe alone.

The spies spoke openly to the assembly the praise of the Land of Israel, and mentioned nothing negative in public. Rather, they behaved as if there were other things about which they would rather not comment on openly.

Treachery motivated their actions. They wanted the Jewish People to be afraid of some unmentioned fear by speaking only to Moshe, unheard by the masses, but in their full view.

  • Source: based on M’lo HaOmer in Talelei Orot

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