Weekly Reading Insights: Shlach 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Shlach

To be read on 23 Sivan 5764 (June 12th )
Torah: Numbers 13:1-15:41
Haftorah: Joshua 2:1-24 (the two spies sent to Jericho)

Shlach is the 4th Reading out of 10 in Numbers and 37th overall, and 25th out of 54 in overall length.

Pirkei Avot: Chapter Three

Shlach (Numbers 13:1- 15:41) begins by relating how Moshe sent the 12 spies to explore the Promised Land. Ten of the spies subsequently gave an evil report which influenced a majority of the people. Because of the Jews apparent disbelief in G-ds ability to conquer the Land, the adult men of that generation were decreed to perish in the desert during the next 38 years (see the Book of our Heritage for a detailed account). Despite the decree, a group of Jews defiantly attempted to enter the Holy Land but were defeated by Amalekites and Canaanites. The next section describes the details of meal and dough offerings, and communal and individual sin offerings for committing idolatry inadvertently. Next is the story of a man caught gathering sticks in violation of Shabbos and his death as consequence. The Reading concludes with the mitzva to separate challah from dough, to wear fringes (tzitzis) with a special strand of blue on four cornered garments and not to be drawn after your heart and eyes.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:37-64/Shlach)

"And see the land and what it is...." (Num. 13:18) See through her [the eyes of the Torah] that [spiritual] world which is the land you will inherit and go up to [after you leave the physical world].

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:37-64/Shlach)

This is also the mystical meaning of the verse "[Send for yourself men who will spy out the land of Canaan] that I am giving to the children of Israel". The verb "am giving" is in the present tense, meaning: "These men whom you are now sending to spy out the land that I am giving now to the Children of Israel are themselves the [progenitors of the] tribes, who are called 'the sons of Israel'.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:37-64/Shlach)

This is the meaning of the expression "trumah to Havayah", i.e. a gift to the attribute of Mercy, which is mentioned in Num. 15:21. This is the deeper meaning of the statement in the Midrash that the word "Bereishit" means "on account of that gift which is called "reishit" (i.e. "challah"). Blessing devolves upon the world because of the fulfillment of this commandment. The reason the challah is to be given to the priest is so that the blessing will come to rest on your houses. Thus far the Rekanati.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"A land which eats its inhabitants." (13:32)

The spies didn't want the Jews to enter the land, because while they were in the desert they didn't have to deal with material matters. They ate manna, water was provided, and even their clothes were cleaned and ironed. Once they entered Israel, they would be busy farming their land and providing sustenance for themselves. Therefore, the spies felt it would be better to remain in the desert so the Jews would have more free time to study Torah.

(Likutei Torah)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:37-64/Shlach)

What was unique about the spies? First, they were chosen by Moshe. Moshe's most unique quality was that, while he was the greatest prophet of all time and spoke face to face with G-d, he was still a human being of flesh and blood. So similarly, when Moshe chose the spies, he chose them for that quality, to live in the world, and yet be a vessel for spiritual truth. The second quality of the spies was that each was a prince of his tribe, possessing all of the special qualities of that tribe. What was the spies' mission? To strengthen themselves by scouting out the Land. Even more important was the task of taking fruits of the land of Canaan (the future Land of Israel) and make them Jewish fruits. This process would break the impurity of Canaan, preparing it for the Jewish conquest. Just imagine how the members of each tribe would feel when they heard how the spies performed G-d's command, even at the darkest time, when Canaan was not yet under Jewish rulership, how they traveled through Canaan gathering the required fruit. Everyone would come to realize how easy it would be for them to successfully conquer the Land. This teaches us that when a person takes stock of his surroundings, and sees that it is like the land of Canaan, unconquered territory filled with spiritual dangers, it may appear out of his grasp. But on the other hand, a person must know that it is his purpose to make even the distant and hostile into a dwelling place for G-d, transforming it into a place of spirituality and truth. A person could think, "It's beyond my capabilities", or "Someone has made a mistake", or "I might be ready for the mission soon, but certainly not yet". The answer to this person is in this week's portion. Just as Moshe chose twelve leaders, so too, in each and every Jew there is a leader with leadership qualities. The most important and powerful quality of a leader is faith-faith that when a mission presents itself, it is because G-d gave him the ability to overcome the obstacles and succeed. What is so powerful about this quality of faith is that we have it as an inheritance. When a person receives an inheritance, regardless of whether he wants it or not, he become the owner of that legacy. Receiving an inheritance does not depend on a person's preference, logic, or perception. Just by virtue of being the child of a certain person, he becomes the inheritor. So it is with our faith that we received as a legacy from our forefathers. This is a legacy, and we have no choice about it. With this faith, we have what it takes to overcome any obstacles and fulfill our mission. The challenges we experience are sent to us so that we may prove to ourselves and to others that we are fit for this great responsibility. When we understand this, nothing can stop us. The accounts of the Torah are not just tales, but come to teach lessons. The lesson here is that each person is placed in a certain environment, within which he works, eats, sleeps, makes a living, etc. Suddenly, one morning he sees that there is a certain aspect of holiness missing. Even if his first reaction is, "I am the last one to be able to transform this situation", he must remember the teaching of the portion, "Shlach-Send the people". Remember that you have the ability to transform your environment, no matter where you are or what personal obstacles you think you have. Yehoshua and Calev showed us the way. They said, "G-d is with us, let us rise and conquer". Rabbi Mendel Futerfas was imprisoned for twenty years for spreading Torah in the Soviet Union as a representative of the Rebbe Rayatz. He once asked a fellow prisoner, a professional tightrope walker, "How is it that you do not fall?" The man answered, "The secret of not falling is to always concentrate on the goal, the final point at the end of rope".

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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