This week’s Torah portion discusses: exploring the Promised Land, threat of destruction, decree of wandering for forty years, meal offering, dough offering, sin offering if one inadvertently committed an act of idolatry, punishment for one who works on the Sabbath and mitzvah of tzitzith.
Who was sent as spies to see the land of Israel?
The princes from each tribe and Joshua (the next leader after Moses)
What was asked of the spies?
To bring back some of the land’s fruit and to answer the following questions:
What kind of land it is? Are the people strong or weak? Is the invalidated land good or bad? Are the cities where they live open or fortified? Is the soil rich or weak? Does the land have trees or not?
The two leaders who didn’t sin were Joshua and Caleb. Joshua received a blessing from Moses before he left and Caleb went to pray at “cave of Makhpelah” the Israel burial site of our forefathers and foremothers.
What did the spies say?
They said praise and than negative information to Moses, Aaron and the entire Jewish community. We came to the land and saw that it is indeed flowing with milk and honey. However, the people living in the land are aggressive and the cities are large and well fortified. We also saw the giant’s descendants there. The spies said we couldn’t conquer the land for they are too strong. The land consumes their inhabitants. The men are huge for they had told the masses of the giants they had seen. We looked like grasshoppers in comparison to the inhabitants.
The spies left for forty days.
What was the reaction from the Jewish people?
After the news the Jewish people began to cry and complained to Moses and Aaron. They complained that their children will be taken captive. They wanted to appoint a new leader and head back to Egypt. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and told the Jewish people that the land is good.
What was the punishment?
At that point G-d was ready to send a plague on the Jewish people. Moses told G-d that his brethren shouldn’t be killed. G-d told Moses that only the descendants will inherit the land. The forty days that the spies took exploring the land will reflect a total of forty years of wandering in the dessert. The children of the complainers will be herded from place to place in the desert. They will pay for their parent’s indiscretion until the last of the corpses will die in the desert.
What is the mitzvah of tzitzith?
Men should wear on the corners of their garments for all generations a twist of sky-blue wool in the corner tassels. When one sees the tassels they will remember all of G-d’s commandments. This will keep the men from not straying after their hearts and eyes. (Visit a Jewish Book store in your community to see what it looks like … they come in all different sizes)