Simcha's Torah Stories - Shlach

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Parshas Shlach


Hi everybody, I'm home!

Hi Dad! How was your day at the office?

Tiring. It's great to be home with the family. How is everyone feeling?

Good, Dad. Thank you so much for the cold drink, Chani. And thank you for hanging up my jacket, Yossie.

My hard-working husband, Shlomo, how are you?

Fine, dear. It warms my heart to see your smiling face after a long day at the office. Where's Avi?

We have to talk about that dear.

How about after dinner?


Everyone come into the dining room. Let's all sit down and eat the delicious dinner that Mom worked so hard to prepare.

Later that evening after dinner, Mom and Dad get a chance to chat.

What's doing with Avi, dear? He's not himself.

We had a little disagreement today. He wanted to go swimming in the river with his friend Jerry and some other boys whose names I did not recognize. I said that swimming in the river is dangerous and besides that, I did not know any of the boys that were going except for Jerry. I did not let him go.

What did he say?

He wasn't too happy about that. He wanted to know why we were so strict especially because everybody's parents let them swim in the river. I told him that you would have a talk with him when you came home.

Okay dear. You did the right thing. Let's call Avi in here and we'll talk with him together.


Yes, Mom.

Can you please come into the living room? Dad and I want to have a little chat with you about the swimming.

Okay Mom.

And so Avi's father begins speaking . . .

Avi, what is this week's Torah portion?

Parshas Shelach.

Do you know how Parshas Shelach is related to swimming in the river?

It's hard to see the connection. There were no rivers in the desert.

Correct, Avi. The Jewish people were preparing to enter the Land of Israel. G-d had promised them an easy conquest of the land. Moshe Rabbeinu, our teacher Moses, sent twelve men to spy out the land before beginning the battle. They were men of integrity, learned in Torah, the distinguished leaders of the Jewish People and of their respective tribes. Throughout their forty-day mission, they traveled together across the Land of Canaan, all seeing the same sights. They returned, however, with varying reports. Ten of them claimed it was a land of giants, too powerful to overcome; a land that devoured its inhabitants. Hysteria erupted among the Jewish people. Calev ben Yefunneh tried to silence the people, and speak praises of the land. Avi, If you were there, how would you react? The respected leaders of the nation, along with the overwhelming majority of the people are following a report that contradicts the promise that G-d made to the Jewish people. We know they are wrong, but everyone is following them. Everyone except . . . Calev ben Yefunneh. For this act of standing up for the truth, "having a different spirit with him," G-d refers to him endearingly as "My servant, Calev." (Bamidbar 14:24). Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch explains "a different spirit" to mean a different understanding, and a different desire, which saved him from the sin of the spies. Calev followed the word of G-d, even when all were against him.

Wow, Dad. That's really exciting. But what does it have to do with swimming in the river?

Avi, swimming in a river like that is dangerous. There are undercurrents, jagged rocks, and very deep spots. There are no lifeguards. We do not know any of the boys that went except for Jerry. Under those circumstances, Mom could not let you go, and I agree with her.

But Dad, everyone goes swimming in the river.

The fact that everyone is doing it does not make it right. Avi, you are not everyone. This time, you have to be different. Just like Calev ben Yefunneh. He was not afraid to go against everyone when he knew that he was right. He didn't follow the crowd.

You know, Dad, it's not easy to say no when everyone is going.

I know, Avi. But the reward is great. Look at Calev's reward. He became close to G-d Himself.

Wow, Dad. You're right. You are my parents and it is my privilege to follow your word. I'm going to be like Calev ben Yefunneh.

Avi, you make us very, very proud of you.

Simcha's Quiz

Every day, a wife picks up her husband at train station at five o'clock. One day he arrives early at four o'clock and he begins to walk home along the road that his wife would be traveling. She meets him and takes him the rest of the way. If he had waited at the train station, she would have arrived there at five. As it turned out, they reached home 20 minutes early.

What time was it when she picked him up?

Write Simcha with the correct answer to

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