Shlach 5768

June 23, 2009

7 min read


Shlach (Numbers 13-15 )

If you would like to support the Shabbat Shalom Weekly, please click here:

GOOD MORNING! Have you ever wondered why the Israeli Ministry of Tourism chose two of the Biblical spies as their logo?

It is really puzzling. The report of the Spies caused the Jewish people to wander 40 years in the desert and for the whole generation to be wiped out. Here's the story:

In this week's Torah Portion, Shelach, Moshe sends 12 spies from the Sinai desert to spy out the land of Canaan. The spies spent 40 days perusing the land and the people. When they came back, 10 of them gave a negative report which depressed the Jewish people and brought them to tears. Caleb tried to stop the rebellion. He told them, "Surely we can conquer the land." It didn't help. They shouted him down.

The 10 spies said, "No, we can't go to the Land... it devours its inhabitants!" The Jewish people cried all night and said, "Let's appoint a leader and return to Egypt!" Joshua tells them, "The land is good! Don't rebel against the Almighty!" They prepare to stone Joshua...

Then the Almighty communicates with Moshe and tells him that the Jewish people will wander in the desert for 40 years, one year for each day the spies spent in the land of Canaan. Furthermore, the whole generation of men is condemned to perish in the desert; only Joshua, Caleb and the women — and the children who at the time of the incident were under the age of 20 — will eventually enter the land.

The Jewish people hear the decree, have tremendous regret and decide, "No, we will enter the land." Moshe tells them: "No. Don't go up. The Almighty is not with you. You will die by sword of the Amalekites and Canaanites." A group goes up anyway... they die by the sword of the Amalekites and Canaanites.

And now ... we return to our fascinating question: For what possible reason 3,300 years later would the Ministry of Tourism choose the two Spies carrying a huge cluster of grapes on a pole as their logo? (and no, these were NOT the two good spies! Joshua and Caleb refused to carry the grapes.)

Perhaps the following answer has some merit. Sometimes when one travels to Israel (or anywhere else) there are problems — the plane is late taking off, your luggage does not arrive, the beautiful hotel in the brochure is noisy ... and the toilet is broken. Then the tour guide tells you, "No, you don't want to see that! I'll show you what you really want to see" ... but his van breaks down. You go back to the hotel for lunch, but unfortunately can't eat it because your stomach has an adverse reaction to breakfast. And this is just your first day! (Of course, these are the exceptions... usually trips to Israel are filled with wonderful experiences!)

So, what is the lesson we should learn from the spies? When you return from Israel and someone asks you, "So, nu, how was Israel?" Remember the spies! ... and keep your mouth shut about any bad experiences! Don't speak negatively about the Land of Israel... and while you're at it, don't speak negatively about others as well!

For more on "Lashon Hara" go to!

Hear classes on...
Download to Go
or Listen FREE On-Line

Torah Portion of the Week

The Jewish people received the Torah on Mt. Sinai and were ready to enter the land of Israel. There was a consensus of opinion amongst the people that we should send spies to see if it was feasible to conquer the Land. Moshe knew that the Almighty's promise to give the Land included a guarantee to conquer it. However, one of the principles of life which we learn from this portion is: the Almighty allows each of us the free will to go in the direction we choose. Even though one man and the Almighty is a majority, Moshe by Divine decree, sent out the princes of the tribes (men of the highest caliber) to spy out the land.

Twelve spies were sent. Ten came back with a report of strong fortifications and giants; they rallied the people against going up to the Land. Joshua ben Nun and Calev ben Yefunah (Moshe's brother-in-law) tried to stem the rebellion, but did not succeed. The Almighty decreed 40 years of wandering in the desert, one year for each day they spied in the land of Israel. This happened on the 9th of Av, a date noted throughout Jewish history for tragedy -- the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain amongst them.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The ten spies reported back to the Jewish people, "The people who dwell in the land are extremely fierce and the cities are fortified and very great. We also saw the children of Anak (giants) there. We cannot go up to the people because they are stronger than us." The spies were sent to reconnoiter the land and bring back the report. What was their mistake?

The commentary Akaidah explains that the report of the spies was appropriate. They observed and they related what they saw. Their mistake was drawing a conclusion and rendering the decision that they we should not attempt to enter the Land. It was not up to them to come to any final conclusions, only to report the facts.

They were wrong about their not being able to conquer the land. The Almighty has the power to help against all odds. Just because in their minds they did not think it was possible for them to successfully take over the land of Israel did not mean that it was not really possible.

What is our lesson? We often see factors in situations and come to erroneous conclusions based on our perceptions.. We must be very careful because oftentimes there are factors that we are unaware of or don't take into consideration. It is a special talent to be able to reach correct decisions based on the facts.

This is especially true when having to make judgments about other people. Some people have a strong tendency to reach negative conclusions about others that are inaccurate. Even if what you see about another person is basically true, always keep in mind that your conclusions could be wrong and the other person should still be judged favorably.

(or go to

Jerusalem 7:08
Guatemala 6:15 - Hong Kong 6:51 - Honolulu 6:57
J'Burg 5:05 - London 9:03 - Los Angeles 7:49
Melbourne 4:50 - Mexico City 8:00 - Miami 7:57

New York 8:13 - Singapore 6:55 - Toronto 8:44


We do not see things as they are,
we see them as we are
-- A. Culmell

With Special Thanks To
Mr. & Mrs. Michael Minikes

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
Create warmth and help build a better world...

Honor A Special Occasion! Dedicate an edition of the Shabbat Shalom Fax. (IRS# 65-0389241)

Click to Donate to
Shabbat Shalom

Golden Partner $1,000
Dedication $360
Patron $252
Supporter $118
Friend $54
Other ___ !

You may give with a credit card via secure server: click here.

If you prefer, you may fax your credit card number, expiration date, amount of gift and name on the card to: 305-531-9334.

or send to:
Aish Friends of Shabbat Shalom
3150 Sheridan Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33140-3946

Fax the name and fax number to: 305-531-9334

Copyright Rabbi Kalman Packouz 2008

Next Steps