How many people were sent out to check the land?
I know it sounds like an obvious question, after all, the Torah names the people who were sent -- and the number totals twelve. However, believe it or not, the issue has stumped some of the luminaries of the Torah world -- even the Great Rabbi Akiva!
The Talmud (Yirushalmi Sotah 7:5) notes a difference of opinion as to whether there were 12 spies (Rabbi Yehuda's position) or 24 (Rabbi Akiva's position). How could we debate something so obvious? How does Rabbi Akiva explain the naming of the 12 spies?
Rav Kasher (Margoliyos HaYam to Sanhedrin 2a note 47) explains that Rabbi Akiva's position was that no one travels alone. Battles that are fought up front, require support staff for the combat soldiers and the same is true for the spies. If each had traveled, they must have had an additional man who traveled at their sides for support. The additional people were not part of the plot to bring a bad report back and therefore are not named.
Of course, that raises a difficulty -- Yehoshua and Kalev were also not part of the plot and they WERE named! Why the difference? Moreover, why did these people not get asked for THEIR opinions of the land which could have supported the position of Yehoshua and Kalev?
The Beis Yisroel, one of the Gerrer Rebbes, that it was the sphere of influence of each of the 12 Nesiim who were supposed to be within the mindsets (and therefore with) the spies. Thus, although only 12 bodies went to spy out the land, 24 Neshamos were on that trip. Unfortunately, the influence of 10 of the Nesiim was not strong enough to overtake the fears of the spies and keep them glued to their ultimate mission, L'Kaddeish Shem Shomayim.
Toward the end of the Parsha, we read of the mitzva of Tzitzis which is supposed to remind the wearer of the Mitzvos. But, like so many mitzvos (Pirsumei Nissa etc.), the mitzva itself is a reminder of a greater influence in our world. When we travel the world and "capture it" are we traveling with the influence of our reminders of man's ultimate purpose in this world or do we need to reorient our life's course to bring it back in lockstep with Hashem's masterplan?