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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Shelach(68)

This week's sedra tells of the sin of the spies. Moses sent them to bring back an evaluation of the Land so that the Israelites would know how best to enter and attack the inhabitants. Instead the spies brought back their defeatist perspective that it would be impossible to conquer the Land. They put a negative spin on everything they saw.

Numbers 13:32

They brought forth to the Children of Israel an evil report on the land that thy had spied out , saying: 'The land which we passed through to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. All the people that we saw in it were mean of (great) measures.

What would you ask on the logic of the words of the spies?

Your Question:


A Question: They seem to be contradicting themselves. First they say that the land eats up it s inhabitants. This implies that the people are weak. Then they say the people are people of great measure, meaning they are big and strong!?

Can you make sense of their words?

Your answer:


An Answer: First we must understand that the pessimistic attitude of the spies influenced them see bad in everything they saw. So if they reported two negative things, which contradicted each other that would not deter them. (Similar to the joke told of the Jewish woman who complained about the Pesach hotel she stayed in. "The food was terrible.... And such small portions!")

But we could explain their words otherwise. The land is a difficult place, harsh climate and poor resources, therefore few survived - its eats up its inhabitants. But those that do survive are, by the principle of survival of the fittest, very strong - men of great measures.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

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