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   by Jacob Solomon

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G-d was… angry with me because of you, saying: 'You shall also not get to [the Promised Land]' (1:37).

As Moses charges the Israelites with their duties before their entry to the Promised Land, he reminds them of their various offences, including their conduct over the negative report of the Spies on the military challenges ahead of them. Within the section on the Spies he adds: G-d was… angry with me because of you, saying: 'You shall also not get to [the Promised Land]' (1:37).

Yet the record shows that almost another forty years were to pass before Moses would be formally barred from entry to the Holy Land by Higher Authority - through striking, instead of speaking to the rock (Num. 20:12). There appears to be nothing in the two lengthy accounts (Num. 13-14 and Deut. 1:22-46) that puts any of the blame on Moses. What, therefore, lies behind Moses' non-entry, and specifically the wrongdoing of the Spies?

In response, a reading together of both accounts (following Rashi to Num. 13:2) would show the following. The Israelites expressed their wish to obtain details of the Promised Land by approaching Moses 'all together' - in a mob, instead of in an orderly manner through their tribal representatives (1:22 and Rashi ad loc). The request seemed reasonable to Moses (1:23). However, Moses consulted G-d who did not say yes and did not say no, but responded 'Send for yourself' - if you wish to - the decision is yours, not Mine. I have already told you that the Land is good (Num. 13:2 and Rashi ad loc).

Thus G-d gave Moses a very strong hint that no good would come out of the mission of the Spies. As Rashi (ad loc) puts it: 'I will give them an opportunity to severely err so that they will not inherit it'. What Moses should have answered was: 'Do not… fear them: G-d Who goes before you will fight for you, as He did in Egypt… and in the esert, where… [He] carried you as a man carries his child' (1:29-31) - summarizing the Israelites' daily experience here and now, not ancient history. He did say that - but after the panic following the Spies' discouraging reports (1:26-28).

But it was too late. It did not calm the panic down. It was ineffective: it had the hollow and unconvincing sound of a morale booster.

Thus Moses was blamed for not taking G-d's hint that no good would come out the mission. He should have used the same words with which he attempted to calm the Israelites to prevent the Spies going out in the first place. As their leader, he should not have let them get into a situation that would bring out the worst in them.

For those after more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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