(Numbers: 13:1-15:41)

(Haftara: Yehoshua 2, 1-24)

(Pirkay Avot 2)

 1. [13:27, 28] “…the people who live in the land are fierce…”  Our tradition looks upon the spies as traitors. The spies were not betraying the Israelites. They were afraid. Is fear a sin? Is fear a betrayal? Why are people sometimes afraid of changing a bad situation for a better situation?

2. [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?

3. [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?

4. . [Pirkay Avot 2:1]  “…What is the straight way that a person should choose for himself…”    A person should choose a balance between his or her needs and other people’s expectations.   Why is this called the “straight way”, rather than the correct way or the balanced way? 

5. [Pirkay Avot 2:2]  “Everyone who works with the community should work with them without expecting reward…”  Many of the commandments of the Torah have to do with our interactions with other people. Why is a vibrant and healthy community so central to the religious values of the Torah? What does getting close to God have to do with community?

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 Rivkah Rochel bat Ya’akov haLevi and Chaya Kornberg, and Yechiel Eliezer ben Yitzchok Meir and Rochel Laya Kornberg

And this study page is also dedicated to the memory cof Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker