Questions and Concepts for Parsha Shelach
(Numbers 13:1 - 15:41)
  1. The section of the Torah dealing with sending the spies to the land of Canaan is next to the section of Miriam's speaking evil (lashon hara) about Moshe. How may the spies comments about the land be considered a type of lashan hara?
  2. As God had already proclaimed that the Israelites would take the land, there was no real need for "spies" to be sent – yet He allows this, using the phrase, "Send for YOURSELF," as if distancing Himself from this command. Does this phrase indicate God’s disappointment with them? What does this tell us about the spiritual level of the people at that time, as compare to when they stood at Mount Sinai? Was it therefore appropriate for them (in this lower spiritual status) to send the spies? Could things have still "worked out" had the people listened to Joshua and Caleb?
  3. After the sin of believing the report of the 10 spies, the people are told they will not enter the land. Following this, some of them decided to "repent." They then decided to go up to the land even though God did not tell them too. They were attacked and killed by the Amalekites and Canaanites. What does this tell us about the role of humility and seeking God’s will in true repentance?
  4. After this tragedy, the people were very depressed about the thought of not entering the Land of Israel. At this time God tells Moses to teach the Jewish People the commandment of "Challah" -- the separation of a portion of dough, which is then given as a gift to the Priests. How was the giving of this command an inspiration to the people?
  5. Rather than viewing the physical greatness of the land’s inhabitants as something that spiritual greatness could conquer, the spies stated that, "We were like grasshoppers in our eyes and so we were in their eyes!" How did their view of themselves (as grasshoppers) make them as fragile as the "mirror" they were looking into? How did their (lack of) action cause them to fail to sanctify the name of God?
  6. The spies correctly reported that, "The land is flowing with milk and honey and this is its fruit." How does this portion of truth actually contribute to the false report that was given and believed by the people?
  7. Consider this concept:
    How serious a sin was this episode of the spies? The night that the people chose to follow their false report was the Ninth of Av. This date has become a terrible night in Jewish history. Both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on the Ninth of Av. In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain on this date. War I also broke out on the Ninth of Av. World War II (with the Holocaust) was very much a continuation of the First World War.