Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 13, v. 2: "L'cho" - For you - Besides Rashi's explanation that "l'cho" means "as per your decision," and Tosfos who say that it means "for your benefit," what other explanation do you have which is more than just an answer to why wasn't this word left out, but also that is a key to understanding the wrongdoing of the spies?

2) Ch. 13, v. 24: "Lamokome hahu koro nachal Eshkol" - To that place he named Nachal Eshkol - The previous verse already called it Nachal Eshkol.

3) Ch. 14, v. 8: "Im chofeitz bonu Hashem" - If Hashem wants us - What is the difference between "chofeitz" and "choseik," as both basically mean "wants?"

4) Ch. 14, v. 21: "V'ulom chai oni" - But I remain alive - These words connote a vow (Rashi). What need is there for a vow here?

5) Ch. 15, v. 38: "Psil" - Twisted thread - Rashi says that the eight threads that we have in each corner of our four-cornered garments corresponds to the eight days the bnei Yisroel spent from the day of their exodus from Egypt until they sang their praise, "shiras ha'yom." We all know that it was only seven days.



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).


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 "Nachal Eshkol."

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.


Commentators note the difference between "cheishek" and "chofeitz." The former is an uncalculated yearning and drive that is usually short-lived, while the latter is a calculated long-term emotion. We find this by the incident of Sh'chem and Dinoh. His father tells Yaakov and her brothers that Sh'chem "choshkoh nafsho b'vitchem" (Breishis 34:8). However, later the Torah says "ki chofeitz b'vas Yaakov" (verse 19). Note that now the verse mentions Dinoh as the daughter of Yaakov. Earlier his desire for her was driven by his lust. A bit later it was tempered with calculated appreciation of Dinoh, not as much with her as the object of his passion, but intrinsic worth, a well brought up daughter of Yaakov.

Similarly, in the parsha of "y'fas to'ar" we find, "v'choshakto voh" (Dvorim 21:11). The first emotion is emotional uncalculated love. After having her sit in his home for a month in a state of mourning, the Torah tells us that the likely outcome will be that "lo chofatzto boh" (verse 14), not only will you no longer have "cheishek," but you will even lose "cheifetz," rational calculated appreciation.

Similarly, our verse says that Hashem is on our side as long as "CHOFEITZ bonu Hashem." Hashem has to have a good reason to love us, namely we have to behave properly. (Nirreh li)


The gemara Arochin 16b says that when one speaks loshon hora he kills three people, himself by virtue of this sin, the person who has heard him out and accepted the loshon hora as being accurate, and the victim, the one about whom he spoke negatively. This cannot apply to our circumstance. The spies spoke negatively of Hashem and the masses accepted it. They will not live, "Ki chol ho'anoshim , Im yiru es ho'oretz, "V'chol m'naatzai lo yiruhoh." However, the victim of the loshon hora, Hashem, cannot be affected. This is "chai oni." (Chid"o in Pnei Dovid)


Given two points of information we might immerge with a new answer. Before the giving of the Torah a day began in the morning and ended the next morning, not like our present night-to-night calculation. The bnei Yisroel actually left Egypt twice, once on the night that they ate their Paschal offerings, as they were miraculously transported to the site of the future Beis Hamikdosh in Jerusalem, and were afterwards brought back to Egypt, and again the next day. This is clearly stated in Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on Shmos 19:4. We can thus say that the night departure was on the 14th of Nison and "shiras ha'yom" on the 21st, a total of 8 days. (Nirreh li)



See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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