Points to Ponder

Shelach 5775

Send the Spies (13:2) – The commentaries point out the difference between L’Tur and L”Ragel. Rav Schachter Shlita quoted Rav Soloveitchik ztl. who noted that Hashem’s original plan was L’Sur Es HaAretz –  like with a Shidduch that the asking was to encourage the people. The Miraglim came to see Ervas HaAretz. This was in error.


They were all men who were leaders of the Jewish people (13:3) – Rashi points out that at the time they were sent, they were all Jewish leaders and Kosher. The Midrash adds that at the time, Moshe sought out Hashem’s opinion about each and every one, and Hashem approved them. How then, did they fail? Rav Yechezkel Abramsky Shlita explained based on the Gemara’s (Kesubos 111a) assumption that if one walks 4 amos in Eretz Yisrael, s/he does not sin. Rav Yechezkel wondered what the significance of walking in Eretz Yisrael is. He answers that 4 amos is a Reshus HaYachid. Even when one is out and about, he is in his private domain when he stays to himself and does not lose himself to the values of the street. Alternatively, when one is in the influence of Moshe and Aharon, one can be a kosher and yet, once influenced from a poorer resource the result can be devastating.

And Moshe called Hosheia Bin Nun Yehoshua (13:16) – Rashi notes that Moshe davened for Yehoshua that he should be saved from the evil intentions of the Miraglim. Why not daven for them all? Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank ztl. quotes Rav Yitzchak Shidlaver who explained that Yehoshua had an unfair Negiya because he heard what the Nevuah of Eldad U’Meeeidad was and that Moshe considered it legitimate. Lest Yehoshua think that it was in his hands to thwart the death knell of Moshe (Moshe Meis V’Yehoshua Machnis La’Aretz ) and join the miraglim, Moshe davened that he not be swayed by this. Alternatively, Rav Schachter Shlita cited the Targum that Yehoshua was very humble and would give in to the others  as the majority.

They went to the Negev and he came to Chevron (13:22) – The Talmud (Sotah 34b) tells us that Kalev went to daven at the Kivrei Avos. Why didn’t the other Miraglim do the same? Even if they were thwarting Moshe’s plan, didn’t they think they were doing the right thing? Why not go to Chevron and gain from Tefillah there and Zechus avos? The Imrei Emes suggests that when one goes for a visit that has no effect, it is as if the person didn’t go at all. Kalev’s tefilla was successful. Those of the other Miraglim were not. Therefore their coming isn’t worthy of mention.

Hashem said “I have forgiven” in accord with your words (14:20) – Rashi explains that Hashem forgave because of Moshe’s argument that the nations of the world would say that Hashem couldn’t bring them into the land. The Tchibiner Rav ztl. explained that when one needs a Yeshua, he should argue that the salvation will bring glory to Hashem. His proof is the fact that despite Moshe’s myriad of tefillos on behalf of the Jews, it is this specific one that Rashi says is included in the idea of Salachtee K’Dvareicha.

And the soul that acts with strength whether a native or a convert is blaspheming Hashem and will receive Kares (15: 30) – Rashi explains that the warning about Avoda Zara came from Hashem and the rest of it came from Moshe. Rav Simcha Zissel Broide ztl. explains that this is why the Possuk reaffirms that it applies to both native and Ger – so that we do not think that since the Ger did not hear the Issur Avoda Zara it might not be considered as if he cursed Hashem. Thus, the Possuk spells it out that clearly it is.

And you will see them and remember all the Mitzvos of Hashem and you will do them (15:39) – This mitzvah of Tzitzis seem magical? Why is the Mitzva so significant that the Gemara accords it such serious fascinating insight. He suggested that Tzitis are not a Garment itself – they hang on the garment. While Tefillin are altogether holy, tzitzis are attached to a garment -- which is profane --and are not an object on their own. On the one hand, the tzitzis are attached to a garment, but on the other hand, they are not really a part of it; rather, they are connected to it. It is a sort of restriction on the authority that the garment expresses. Through tzitzis Hashem tells man that he should indeed leave his human mark on nature, but this must be done in the proper way by imbuing it with elements of holiness.

Haftorah: And she took the 2 men and hid HIM (2:4) -  Rashi cites the Yalkut Shimoni which clarifies that Pinchas did not need to be hidden because he had the ability to make himself invisible. The question begs itself then as to why Moshe didn’t send Pinchas alone with the cloak of invisibility? The Imrei Emes suggests that Moshe was setting a message for the Jewish people as a whole then – Eretz Yisrael will need 2 types of people – those who live like malachim who are Torasam Umanusam and those who work the land and settle it with the Jewish spirit. Thus, both types of Jews were sent to check out the land.