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Sh’lach L’cha

Sh’lach L’cha

D’var Torah Sh’lach L’cha

The Lord spoke to Moses saying, "Send men to scout out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. Send one man who is a leader among them from each of their ancestral tribes." (Numbers 13:1-2)

Why is the section dealing with the spies juxtaposed with the section dealing with Miriam? Because she was punished over matters of slander, for speaking against her brother, and these wicked people witnessed (it), but did not learn their lesson. (Rashi, based upon Midrash Tanḥuma)

In his initial comment on Parashat Sh’lacḥ, Rashi explains the juxtaposition of the narrative of the sin of the spies and Miriam's actions, described at the end of Parashat Beha'alotcha. Miriam spoke lashon hara against her brother Moses, while the spies spoke lashon hara about the Land of Israel, and the Israelites should have learned the lesson of Miriam's actions and rejected the ten spies' slanderous report.

There are those who ask: since Miriam spoke against a human being, while the spies spoke against the Land, which is inanimate, how were the Israelites to know that the lashon hara of the spies was equal to that of Miriam?

Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik explains that the true depth of Miriam's sin was the failure to understand and appreciate Moses' uniqueness as a prophet. (See Maimonides, Laws of the Fundamentals of Torah 7:6 for details of Moses' uniqueness.) While Miriam did understand that her younger brother was the master of all prophets, who stood above all others, she failed to appreciate that Moses achieved a level of closeness to God which no other human being achieved or will ever achieve. Similarly, explains Rabbi Soloveitchik, the ten spies and the Israelites who accepted their report, did not understand the uniqueness of the Promised Land. Just as there was a unique closeness between God and Moses, so too there is a unique closeness between Him and His Land, the Land of Israel. As such, the sin of the spies, which includes the spies' slander of the Land and the Israelites' acceptance thereof, is exactly parallel to Miriam's sin. (David Magence)

Shabbat Shalom

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