JUNE 8-9, 2007 23 SIVAN 5767
"Forty days, a day for a year, a day for a year" (Bemidbar 14:34)
In our perashah the Israelites sinned by listening to the bad report of the spies. The spies reported that upon inspecting the land, they had come to the conclusion that the land cannot be conquered and we must not enter. The nation lost their faith. Instead of contradicting the spies and stating their resolution to follow Moshe into the land with confidence, they followed the advice of the spies and began to weep. As a result they were punished, that for each day that the spies spent checking out the land, the Israelites would travel through the desert a whole year. The spies traveled forty days; the Israelites will travel forty years.
An obvious question is posed by the author of Mayan Hashavua. It seems that Hashem wanted to punish them a year for each day, but the sin they committed was listening and accepting the advice of the spies. How long did it take for the spies to tell their story? A half hour? An hour? Why did they get punished for each day of the spies' trek? The answer is, it is true that they spoke for an hour, but that hour capsulated the entire forty day trip. They described every detail of the trip, so if they listened for one hour to a short version of the 40 day trip, it is as if they heard 40 days.
We know there is a rule, that Hashem gives reward for a misvah many times more than he would punish for a sin. So we can apply this lesson of listening to the spies to listening to a Torah class. Many times people fail to realize how much time and effort a Rabbi spends to prepare a class. How many times did he review the material until he could explain it in an easy manner? How much time spent on studying the commentaries? Sorting out what to say and what to omit. Therefore, we can say that not only does a person attending the class receive reward for every word heard, but also is regarded as having learned for all of those hours that the Rabbi prepared. It really pays off to attend a class; how awesome is the reward! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
When Moshe sent the twelve spies into the land, he changed his student's name from Hoshea to Yehoshua by adding a letter Yud to his name. The Rabbis tell us he took the letter Yud from the name of Sarah, our Matriarch, whose name was originally Sarai, and so the Yud from her name went to Yehoshua. What is the symbolism behind this message?
Sarah was the one who told Abraham to drive Yishmael out from the house because she saw him as a negative influence on her son, Yitzhak. Hashem agreed with Sarah and commanded Abraham to listen to Sarah. Here too, the lesson is that if Yehoshua wants to be the one to conquer and distribute the land to the Jewish people, he must remove all negative influences from their environment. To establish a proper community, we must be on guard that only positive and proper lessons be instilled within us and our children. That is the legacy of Sarah Imenu and that is what Yehoshua was to follow in setting up the land of Israel! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"When you will come to the land of your dwelling place that I give you…and a quarter-hin of wine for a libation" (Bemidbar 15:2,5)
Why does the perashah which discusses wine libations follow the one containing the episode of the spies?
The spies brought back a fig, a pomegranate and a cluster of grapes from Eress Yisrael. These fruits were so unusually large that one man had to carry the fig, another the pomegranate, and eight others carried the grapes. They told the Jews that just as the fruit of the land was unusual, so were the inhabitants, and they thereby discouraged the Jews form wanting to go to Eress Yisrael.
Since the majority of the spies used grapes to malign Eress Yisrael, Hashem commanded the Jewish people that when they would enter Eress Yisrael and offer sacrifices, they were to include a wine libation in order to atone for the sin which was committed by their ancestors through the grapes of Eress Yisrael. (Vedibarta Bam)
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