(Numbers: 13:1-15:41)

(Haftara: Yehoshua 2, 1-24)

(Pirkay Avot 3)

  1. [13:27, 28] Our tradition looks upon the spies as the ultimate traitors. What was so bad about the spies’ message to the Israelites?
  2. [13:30] “And Caleb stilled the people”. Rashi says that Calev said to the people, “Is this the only thing that Moshe has done to us?”. This would get their attention and then he could encourage them to go into the land. The Sforno says simply that Calev told them to be quiet so that Moshe could be heard.  Each explanation has a different image of the Israelites. What is the difference between the explanations? Which seems more accurate to you?
  3. [Haftara: Yehoshua 2:1] Why did Yehoshua send the spies to Rachav, the prostitute, and what significance is there in the fact that Rachav, who protected the spies and helped the Israelites, was a prostitute?
  4. [Pirkay Avot 3:2] “Pray for the peace of the government, because without fear of the government, each man would swallow his fellow-man alive.” Rabbenu Yonah (1210-1268, Spain) explains this mishna in the following way: “A person should pray for the peace of the whole world, and feel the pain of others…everyone should have peace. When countries have peace, the world has peace.” Is Rabbenu Yonah’s view of mankind different from the mishna’s view of mankind? Why does Rabbenu Yonah change the emphasis of the mishna?
  5. [Pirkay Avot 3:14-20] “Beloved is man who was created in the image (of God). It is a sign of greater love that he was informed that he was created in the image…” Wouldn’t it have been more helpful and greater love not to tell man that he was created in the image of God—wouldn’t man have been more humble?

Commentary

[13:32] “…a land that consumes its inhabitants”.

The Hebrew word for “its inhabitants” in this verse—”yoshvehah”–literally means “its settlers”.

The Holy Land does not tolerate those who settle down, who are complacent and content with their achievements. One should always be aspiring to improve—to get closer to God, to people and to one’s real self.

–R. Yitzchak of Vorka (1779-1848), Poland.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer