web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Sin Of The Spies

Eretz Yisrael overflows with beauty and sanctity. Some of its beautiful qualities are revealed while others are hidden beneath the surface.
Raindrops on a lemon tree in Eretz Yisrael.

Raindrops on a lemon tree in Eretz Yisrael.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90

What was the sin of the spies? It cannot be that it was the very fact they were sent. On the contrary, we find the use of spies against the enemy camp in many places. For example, we read that “Moshe sent out men to spy on Ya’azer” (Bamidbar 21:32). Likewise, Yehoshua sent out two spies to see the Land and Jericho. And we find that God sent Gideon to spy on the Midianite camp to hear what the Midianites were saying so as to be in a stronger position to attack them (Shoftim 7:11).

Therefore, Ramban (Bamidbar 13:2) does not view the actual sending of the spies as the sin. He writes, “This is reasonable counsel for all occupying forces. The Torah does not advise relying on miracles in all one does. Rather, it commands that soldiers, once dispatched, cautiously wait in ambush for the right moment to attack.”

Ramban further refines the question. The spies spoke the truth. They had been tasked to see if the soil was rich or weak and they answered that it was rich, and that it was a land flowing with milk and honey. To the question of whether the land had trees or not, they responded by displaying its fruit, as Moshe had commanded they do.

What then was the sin of the spies? Ramban says the spies had been commanded to provide information about the land; their sin was that they added their own opinion that the conquest of the land would be impossible to carry out. The spies conducted themselves like some of our present-day media personalities whose job it is to provide the public with facts and information but who instead weave in their own commentary, assessments and opinions. This was the sin of the spies.

The Book of Psalms long ago revealed to us that lack of faith and an absence of love of the Land of Israel were the root causes of the sin of the spies: “They despised the precious land, they did not believe His word” (Psalm 106:24).

We can extrapolate from this that the answer to the confusion and doubt rampant in our own generation regarding Eretz Yisrael is increased education vis-a-vis love of the land, the people, and the Torah of Israel.

That education is to be found at the end of the parshah of the spies, which deals with the mitzvah of tzizit. The Talmud in Menachot states that the blue thread of tzitzit reminds us to look up at the blue heavens and to admire the incredible, vast expanse of endless space leading to its source: the Ein Sof, God.

The Torah concludes the parshah of the spies with “and you shall see Him,” meaning to see God in everything in nature (Bamidbar 15:40). Thus the gematria of the word “nature” in Hebrew, hateva, equals Elokim (God). We must teach ourselves to view events as they really are, as the Torah views them, rather than be deceived by superficial appearances.

This idea applies especially to Eretz Yisrael, which overflows with beauty and sanctity. Some of its beautiful qualities are revealed while others are hidden beneath the surface. In a similar sense, the righteous one among the spies, Kalev ben Yefuneh, saw only the good in Eretz Yisrael, unlike his colleagues, who were deceived by the superficial problems they saw. His name comes from the same root as the word kelev, dog, and we all know a dog is always digging beneath the surface to find the buried treasure.

Like Kalev, we must never cease plumbing the depths to discover the hidden treasure and sanctity concealed in Eretz Yisrael.

About the Author: Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher is dean of students at the Diaspora Yeshiva in Jerusalem.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “The Sin Of The Spies”

  1. David Brooks says:

    “Knowledge makes man unfit to be a slave” – Frederick Douglas -

  2. Yep, God’s Word says that lack of knowledge destroys His people (Hosea 4:6)..Knowledge is power…..

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS executioner holding British aid worker Alan Henning as a hostage.
Muslims Plead with ISIS for Life of UK Aid Worker Alan Henning
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF lone soldier and  David Menachem Gordon (z"l).

Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?

Starck-091914

SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.

Kohn-091914

Strategy? For the longest time Obama couldn’t be bothered to have one against a sworn enemy.

Miller-091914

Seventeen visual skills are needed for success in school, sports, and everyday life.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Fear alone is substantial; without fusing it to beauty, fear doesn’t reach its highest potential.

Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.

Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents

National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

More Articles from Rabbi Ephraim S. Sprecher
chain.jpg

Rambam: Regarding a husband who refuses to give a Get: “He is beaten until he says, ‘I agree.’ ”

Raindrops on a lemon tree in Eretz Yisrael.

Increased education about the land, the people, and the Torah of Israel is the antidote to today’s confusion.

Why not tell us that Purim is to be commemorated with reading the megillah, dispensing mishloach manot, giving gifts to the poor, and partaking in a Purim feast?

It all comes down to our state of mind.

The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, “tefillot avot tiknum” – “prayer was established by the avot.” The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established prayer: “Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem” – “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”

We have a custom of reciting Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs) on the Shabbat during Pesach. Many reasons have been offered to explain why.

The festival of Chanukah celebrates two miracles – the military victory over the Syrian Greeks and that one small cruse of oil, good for one day, providing light for eight days. The miracle of the light, however, is the main focus and central theme of this festival.

The number four seems to play a major role in the Pesach Seder. We have four questions, four sons, four terms of endearment and, of course, one of the major features we soon will be enjoying – the drinking of four cups of wine.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-sin-of-the-spies/2014/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: