(Haftara: Yehoshua 2, 1-24)
1. [13:2] Rashi, our main commentator, tells us that God didn’t command Moshe to send spies into the land of Israel, but rather, the Israelites requested the spies.
What word in the pasuk suggests this? Why did God agree to a plan that was
so likely to fail?
2. [13:27-29] It seems that the spies told the truth about the land of Israel. If so, what was their sin?
3. [14:28-35] The Israelites complained before this, but this time they were punished with 40 years in the desert. Isn’t this too severe a punishment? What exactly was their sin?
4. [14:40-45] The “ma’apilim” regret the lack of support for going into the land and try to repair what was done by going into the land. Why was their project unsuccessful? Shouldn’t God have supported their desire to repent?
5. [15:37-41] 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?
[13:32] “And they brought a bad report about the land that they had spied out…”
What was the deeper reason for the spies not wanting the Israelites to go into the land of Israel?
They thought that the people would have a holier life in the desert. Their food, the “man”, came directly from heaven; and their instructions for moving came directly from heaven, through the cloud by day and the fire by night. In the land of Israel, on the other hand, life would no longer be miraculous. The people would have to become farmers and workers and live a “normal” life. Why give up the life of the desert—a life that was closer to God?
They didn’t realize that the reason for leaving Egypt was to live a normal life in the land of Israel. The “normal” life, however, would be full of holiness by keeping the commandments of God, and by building a society full of justice and kindness. The idea was not to live through miracles—but to create and see the holiness in everyday life.
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer