(Numbers: 13:1-15:41)

(Haftara: Yehoshua 2, 1-24)

(Pirkay Avot 2)

1. [13:30]   “And Calev stilled the people…”   There are a number of different explanations for why the Israelites became quiet, and what they expected Calev to say. How many different explanations can there be for this action? How does our image of the Israelites change according to the different explanations? Why does the Torah leave certain stories or actions open to interpretation?

2. [14:29-35] “In this wilderness, your bodies will fall…” The Israelites complained before the episode of the spies, but this time they were punished with 40 years in the desert.   What exactly was their sin? Isn’t this too severe a punishment for their sin?

3. [15:37-41] “…tell them to make fringes on the corners of their garments…” The Israelites are told to put fringes on the corners of their clothing, including a blue string, and looking at this blue string would remind them of God’s commandments. What is the meaning of this commandment? Shouldn’t there be a better way of being reminded of God’s commandments?

4. [Haftara: Yehoshua 2:1] “…they came to the house of a prostitute…” Yehoshua send the spies to Rachav, the prostitute. Avraham, Moshe, Yitro and others are also outsiders to their societies and are heroes to us. Why are we so sympathetic to outsiders?

5. [Pirkei Avot 2:2] “Everyone who works with the community should work with them without expecting reward…” Being part of the community is an important value in a Torah way of life. In fact, there were many holy Hebrew individuals before Sinai. However, the Torah was given at Sinai to the community of Israel. Why is community valued so much in the Torah way of life?

Commentary

If a person feels that he has a special talent or emotional quality that others don’t have, he should know and believe that this is not accidental. It is a clear hint from God for him to know what his special talent or quality is for serving God and bringing His presence into the world.

–R. Y. M. Shechter, presently in Jerusalem.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer