פ’ שלח תשע”ח
Volume 24, Issue 5
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholars’ Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
שלח לך אנשים
“Send for yourself spies…” (13:2)
This chapter, describing the episode of the spies is presented immediately following that of Miriam and Aharon. However, the episode of Korach’s revolt, presented later occurred before the episode of the spies. This is not considered a problem by our Sages because of the principle events in the Torah do not necessarily follow in chronological order (Pesachim 6b).
The chronology is as follows: On the 20th of Iyar, in the second year of the Exodus from Egypt, the Divine cloud left the Tent of the Meeting. Israel followed it for three days, and on the 22nd of Iyar, came to Kivros-Hata’avah where they ate the quail that Hashem provided for them. There they remained for a month (v. 11:20). On the 22nd of Sivan they journeyed to Hatzerot (11:35) where the episode of Miriam and Aharon occurred. The Israelites remained only seven days at Hatzerot and it was during that period that Korach instigated his rebellion (see Ramban 16:1). From Hatzerot, the people moved deeper into the Wilderness of Paran (v. 16) and it was from there that the spies set out on the 29th of Sivan. Their expedition lasted forty days and ended on the 9th of Av. (Kol HaTorah)
למטה אפרים הושע בן נון
“For the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea, son of Nun.” (13:16)
Here the Torah uses the word bin for “son of”, rather than the more common, ben. Why? Chazal tell us when the name of שרי was changed to שרה, the י that was omitted was added to הושע, to become יהושע. This poses a problem. Since the י of שרי carries no vowel, where does the sheva under the י of יהושע come from? The two dots of this sheva were taken from the three dots of the segol of ben, which leaves ben with only a single dot, a chirik. Hence, the uncommon, Yehoshua bin Nun. (Chasam Sofer)
וילכו ויבאו אל משה ואל אהרון
“And they went and came to Moshe and to Aharon…” (13:26)
This verse comes when the spies were returning from Cana’an to report to Moshe and the people. If so, why does it include the word “Va’yelchu” – “And they went”? It would have been sufficient to say “Va’yavo’u” – “And they came”.
Through this seemingly unnecessary word, the Torah may wish to imply that from the time the spies first went on their mission, they planned to return with an unfavorable report. As Rashi explains, they left with the same evil intention with which they returned. Accordingly, they looked at the negative side of everything they saw and sought out ways to buttress the gloomy description that they had already decided on. (Kol Dodi)
ונהי בעינינו כחגבים וכן היינו בעיניהם
“And in our eyes we were as grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.” (13:33)
Midrash Yalkut Shimoni teaches, “You said that you saw yourselves as grasshoppers. Hashem says, ‘Who told you that in their eyes you did not appear as angels?’”
This is what happens, writes the Chafetz Chaim, when a person loses faith in Hashem. He will lose faith in himself and will fail to recognize his own true worth. He will think that others see him as a grasshopper, when really he is an angel in their eyes. When people lose their self-esteem, and regard themselves as less than they really are, until they see themselves as insects or other lower creatures, they automatically feel that others see them this way, too. “In our eyes we were as grasshoppers.” Therefore, “and so we were in their eyes.” Here is clear proof that the spies had lost their belief in Hashem. (Parsha Anthology)
ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם אשר אתם זנים אחריהם
“And you shall not explore after your hearts and after your eyes, after which you stray.” (15:39)
Rashi, quoting Midrash Tanchuma, says that the heart and the eyes are like the body’s spies; the eyes see, then the heart desires, and the body sins. If the heart desires after the eyes see, why did the verse first warn against “exploring after your hearts” and then against “straying after your eyes”?
True, the heart does desire that which the eyes see, but what things do the eyes see? They see only those things that the heart desires them to see. Every day on his way to work, a person would pass an apple tree. Once, in early spring, someone asked him whether the apple tree had began to blossom. “Apple tree!?” he exclaimed. “I never knew there was an apple tree on the way to work!” This person was so focused on reaching his destination that he failed to see the sights along the way. However, when someone who did appreciate nature traveled down the same road, he did notice the apple tree, because a man’s eyes see only what his heart directs him to see. Thus the verse first warns us that “you shall not explore after your hearts,” and only then admonishes us not to follow “your eyes, after which you stray.”
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