In this week’s parsha we begin with the fateful episode of the meraglim, or spies, who were sent to seek out the land of Israel. We all know that ten of them came back with a slanderous report and the nation cried over it. This sealed a decree that we would cry for all generations, alluding to the destruction of the first and second Beis Hamikdash.
The end of the parsha has the portion of tzitzis. In that parsha the Torah writes that we should not follow our hearts and our eyes, which lead us astray. Rather we should wear tzitzis and they should remind us to always follow the Torah and mitzvos.
Also in this week’s parsha the Torah gives the halachos of committing an accidental sin, for which one must bring a korban chattas.
Is there a connection between all of these components? The basic sin of the spies was that they did not perceive the data correctly. For example they saw funerals and interpreted that incorrectly to mean that the land kills its inhabitants. In truth Hashem caused the deaths to preoccupy the residents with other things allowing the spies to do their work. They saw extremely large fruit and interpreted that to mean that just as the fruit are extreme and strange so to are the inhabitants. This was a misconception and a misinterpretation of the facts.
The next part of the parsha details accidental sins. What is an accidental sin? If someone is not aware of his surroundings, for example he does not know it is Shabbos today and turns on the light. This was an accident but the Torah expects us to be aware of our situations and not allow accidents to occur. It is for that reason that in such a situation a person is required to atone for his accidental sin. The core principle here as well is misinterpreting our surroundings.
In the final portion of this week’s parsha the Torah discusses using our eyes properly. Our eyes are our spies, which we send out to interpret the world we live in. the Torah is warning us to use our spies correctly and not follow the wrong path; but to keep on the path of the Torah. The temptations of this world are but smoke and mirrors. Our task is to see them for what they are, and not follow our hearts and eye’s desire.
The universal theme of this week’s parsha seems to be interpreting facts correctly, and not listening to “fake news.” We are to learn from the mistake of the spies who interpreted what they saw in Eretz Yisrael incorrectly, we are be aware of our surroundings and prevent accidental sins, and finally we are to use our “spies,” our eyes properly leading us in the proper direction.