SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHLACH 5766 BS"D
Ch. 13, v. 2: "Shlach" - Send - Rashi (Medrash Tanchuma 5) says that the
agents sent to bring back a report about Eretz Yisroel should have taken a lesson
from Miriam's punishment for speaking negatively of Moshe, but they didn't.
The obvious question is: Miriam spoke negatively of the greatest leader and
prophet the bnei Yisroel ever had. If so, how can we apply this lesson to speaking
negatively about an inanimate object?
The Rambam, when relating that one should not speak loshon hora, hilchos
tumas tzoraas 10:16, cites the incident of Miriam. He adds that she was punished
in spite of speaking negatively in but a minimal manner, mistakenly, and that
Moshe was not slighted. From this we can derive that the negativity of speaking
loshon hora is not based solely upon the reaction of the victim, but on the
negative speech itself. This lesson carries over to the land as well.
Ch. 13, v. 2: "L'cho" - For you - The Magid of Vilkomir says that in this
word "l'cho" lies the true impact of the sin of the spies. Sending "for you"
means that Moshe would send them and upon their return they would report back to
HIM ONLY. Even if they were to come back with a very negative report Moshe
could then decide what should and what shouldn't be told to the masses. However,
this was not to be. The spies spilled their report to all, "Va'yovo'u el Moshe
v'el Aharon v'el kol adas Yisroel .. va'yoshivu OSOM dovor" (verse 26). Even
before their being sent on their mission the bnei Yisroel already had this
wrong attitude, that the report was to be brought back directly to the masses, as
the verse in Dvorim 1:22 relates, "Nish'l'choh anoshim l'fo'neinu .. v'yoshivu
OSONU dovor." This is in stark contra-distinction with the spies Yehoshua
sent, who reported back only to him, "Va'yovo'u el Yehoshua bin Nun va'y'sapru
LO" (Yehoshua 2:22).
Ch. 13, v. 2: "Ish echod ish echod l'ma'tei avosov" - One man one man to the
tribe of his ancestors - Rabbi Akiva (gemara Yerushalmi Sotoh 7:5) says that
the repetition of "ish echod" teaches us that two men were sent from each
tribe. This creates complications in understanding the derivation of a minyan being
ten men from 14:27, since there were 22 men who were not righteous. A simple
answer is offered by Rabbi Yoseif Engel and others. Since the Torah does not
overtly state that there were 24, and as well does not give us their names, we
count only those clearly mentioned.
The Ari z"l writes that the sons of Yaakov had their souls transmigrate into
the spies. This is alluded to in the words, "Lo hoyu avo'decho m'raglim"
(Breishis 42:11). We were not spies, but we will be spies in the future. This is
the intention of Rabbi Akiva with his statement that there were 2 spies per
tribe. They were the people delineated 4 through 15, plus the spiritual, but not
physical, addition of the tribal patriarchs. (Beis Yisroel)
Ch. 13, v. 20: "V'his'chazaktem" - And you shall strengthen yourselves -
Moshe knew that they would encounter giants in Eretz Yisroel. They might consider
themselves negligible in contrast with the powerful giants. He therefore
exhorted and encouraged them. The gemara Yerushalmi Trumos 10:5 says that although
a complete creature when lost in a mixture is not negated, but in a mixture of
960 times its volume it is considered negligible. "His'chazaktem" has the
numerical value of 960. Do not consider yourselves as naught even when
encountering the giants. (Imrei Emes)
Ch. 13, v. 23: "Va'yiso'uhu vamote bishshnoyim" - And they carried it with a
pole held up by two - the gemara Sotoh 34a explains that there were four poles
used for transporting the cluster of grapes, and each pole was held by two
people, one at each end, so that a total of eight people carried the grape
cluster. One carried the pomegranates and one carried the figs. Yehoshua and
Ko'leiv did not carry any of the fruit. However, the Holy Zohar 160a writes that not
only did Yehoshua and Ko'leiv also carry the fruit, but that without their
help the others were unable to lift it.
Ch. 13, v. 24: "Lamokome ahu koro nachal Eshkol" - To that place he named
Nachal Eshkol - The previous verse already called it Nachal Eshkol.
1) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh says that this was its name much earlier, given
by Hashem, Who knows the future.
2) The GR"A says that earlier it was called Nachal Eshkol, but with no
letter Vov in Eshkol, and now the letter Vov was added.
3) Kli Yokor says that before it was called only Eshkol (Yalkut Shimoni on
Breishis 102:23). The words "nachal Eshkol" in verse 23 are to be translated as
the valley of Eshkol. Fruits grow much better in elevated areas, as they
receive an abundance of sunlight, which promotes their growth. The spies took a
gigantic cluster of grapes that grew in a valley, where there is limited
sunlight. To commemorate this the name of the place was changed from Eshkol to
4) Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that the cluster of grapes oozed a rivulet
of juice when it was transported. This is why the place was now called "Nachal
Eshkol," while we can assume, similar to the explanation of the Kli Yokor,
that until now it was only called Eshkol.
As an addendum to the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel, the Medrash Shir Hashirim
4:26 says that the grape juice that dripped from the cluster of grapes was used
for wine libations in the Mishkon. The medrash offers a second opinion, that
the bnei Yisroel bought wine from merchants they met in the desert. This was
before the Rabbinical restrictions against goyishe wine and goyishe defilement.
Ch. 14, v. 8,9: "Zovas Cholov Udvosh, Ach baShem al timrodu" - Flowing milk
and honey, Just don't rebel in Hashem - The word "ach" seems to be superfluous.
Rashi on 13:27 says that the spies praised Eretz Yisroel with their words
"zovas cholov udvosh," and this would be an inducement to conquer it. They
weren't really interested in praising the land at all, but they had to say something
truthful, or else no one would believe a pack of only lies.
This might be alluded to in the word "ach" coming on the heels of "Zovas
Cholov Udvosh" in the previous word. ACH, whose numerical value is the same as the
first letters of "Zovas Cholov Udvosh," only there words are "baShem al
timrodu," are not a rebellion against Hashem, while the rest of their report was
only lies. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 14, v. 27: "Lo'eidoh horo'oh hazose" - To this bad congregation - The
gemara Megiloh 23b derives from these words that a congregation consists of ten
men. Twelve men were sent to reconnoiter the land. Yehoshua and Ko'leiv were
righteous, so we are left with ten people who were called "eidoh horo'oh." The
Beis Yoseif on O.Ch. #55 cites the Sefer Hamanhig#79 who says that a sinner can
be counted as part of the minyan quorum. This is readily understood based on
the source of the number of men required is derived from the evil ten spies.
However, the Pri M'godim says that only a sinner who sins in pursuit of his
lusts may be included and not a wanton, "l'hachis," sinner. The responsa of
Radba"z posits that even a wanton sinner may be included. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in
his Igros Moshe states that even a public Shabbos desecrator may be included
in a minyan (O.Ch. 1:23, 2:19, 3:14).
Perhaps they died during their mission and we are left with only one person
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