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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Parshat Shlach, The "Mother of All" Pilot Trips Gone Bad

One of the big "misnomers" in Jewish Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week is calling this week's parsha, Shlach-Send "The Sin of the Spies." The very large and honorable delegation sent off to scout out, or more accurately to stake out the Holy Land weren't called מרגלים miraglim, spies in the Biblical narrative. That's because they weren't spies!

Numbers Chapter 13

1The Lord spoke to Moses saying,אוַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:
2"Send out for yourself men who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. You shall send one man each for his father's tribe; each one shall be a chieftain in their midst."בשְׁלַח לְךָ֣ אֲנָשִׁ֗ים וְיָתֻ֨רוּ֙ אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֥י נֹתֵ֖ן לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אִ֣ישׁ אֶחָד֩ אִ֨ישׁ אֶחָ֜ד לְמַטֵּ֤ה אֲבֹתָיו֙ תִּשְׁלָ֔חוּ כֹּ֖ל נָשִׂ֥יא בָהֶֽם:
The tribal heads had been sent on what's now called a pilot trip, to stake out, choose the best location for the tribe to settle once they all arrived.

For the past few decades it has been highly recommended that potential olim, immigrants to Israel come a few months or year before their actual immigration date to check out locations, schools etc. Nefesh B'Nefesh and AACI along with other immigrant organizations assist in planning these visits to facilitate an easier more successful aliyah.
17Moses sent them to scout the Land of Canaan, and he said to them, "Go up this way in the south and climb up the mountain.יזוַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח אֹתָם֙ משֶׁ֔ה לָת֖וּר אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֗ם עֲל֥וּ זֶה֙ בַּנֶּ֔גֶב וַֽעֲלִיתֶ֖ם אֶת־הָהָֽר:
18You shall see what [kind of] land it is, and the people who inhabit it; are they strong or weak? Are there few or many?יחוּרְאִיתֶ֥ם אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ מַה־הִ֑וא וְאֶת־הָעָם֙ הַיּשֵׁ֣ב עָלֶ֔יהָ הֶֽחָזָ֥ק הוּא֙ הֲרָפֶ֔ה הַמְעַ֥ט ה֖וּא אִם־רָֽב:
19And what of the land they inhabit? Is it good or bad? And what of the cities in which they reside are they in camps or in fortresses?יטוּמָ֣ה הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־הוּא֙ ישֵׁ֣ב בָּ֔הּ הֲטוֹבָ֥ה הִ֖וא אִם־רָעָ֑ה וּמָ֣ה הֶֽעָרִ֗ים אֲשֶׁר־הוּא֙ יוֹשֵׁ֣ב בָּהֵ֔נָּה הַֽבְּמַֽחֲנִ֖ים אִ֥ם בְּמִבְצָרִֽים:
20What is the soil like is it fat or lean? Are there any trees in it or not? You shall be courageous and take from the fruit of the land." It was the season when the first grapes begin to ripen.כוּמָ֣ה הָ֠אָ֠רֶץ הַשְּׁמֵנָ֨ה הִ֜וא אִם־רָזָ֗ה הֲיֵֽשׁ־בָּ֥הּ עֵץ֙ אִם־אַ֔יִן וְהִ֨תְחַזַּקְתֶּ֔ם וּלְקַחְתֶּ֖ם מִפְּרִ֣י הָאָ֑רֶץ וְהַ֨יָּמִ֔ים יְמֵ֖י בִּכּוּרֵ֥י עֲנָבִֽים:
They weren't sent out to discuss the pros and cons of living in the Holy Land. They just needed to prepare realistically. And they were supposed to bring back souvenirs, like the grapes, to show their tribes how wonderful the Land is.

But except for  Calev and Yehoshua they failed miserably. They sinned and in that they were punished by Gd, and only the next generation was allowed to enter the Land.


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