Parashat Shelach Lecha, Do you acknowledge the truth or do you serve your own version of reality?


In this week’s reading from Parashat Shelach Lecha (Bamidbar / Numbers 13:1-15:41), the Lord commands Moshe to send men to spy out the land of Canaan which He was giving to the Children of Yisrael (13:1-2).  Moshe says יח   וּרְאִיתֶם אֶתהָאָרֶץ מַההִוא וְאֶתהָעָם הַיֹּשֵׁב עָלֶיהָ הֶחָזָק הוּא הֲרָפֶה הַמְעַט הוּא אִםרָב: 13:18 ‘See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many. (NASB)  Moshe seeks to have these questions answered of whether the land is fat or lean, are the camps well fortified or open, is the land flowing with milk and honey (זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ הִוא) and is the land very plentiful?  Having sent the men out (Shelach Lecha, שלח לך), the men return from spying out the land and bring a good report of the land being filled with milk and honey but a bad report of the inhabitants who live in the land (13:32).  As a result of the bad report, the people wept all night long and grumbled against Moshe and Aharon.  Caleb and Joshua stand up before the people and say the land is good and plentiful and filled with milk and honey.  If the Lord is pleased with us He will give the land to us only do not rebel against the Lord and do not fear the people of the land for they will be our prey (14:7-9).  The congregation of people however wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua (14:10).  The Lord asks Moshe how long will these people spurn me?  Again we find Moshe standing as an intercessor on behalf of the people to spare their lives.  Moshe prayed saying יז   וְעַתָּה יִגְדַּל-נָא כֹּחַ אֲדֹנָי כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ לֵאמֹר: יח   יְהֹוָה אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב-חֶסֶד נֹשֵֹא עָוֹן וָפָשַׁע וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבוֹת עַל-בָּנִים עַל-שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל-רִבֵּעִים: יט   סְלַח-נָא לַעֲוֹן הָעָם הַזֶּה כְּגֹדֶל חַסְדֶּךָ וְכַאֲשֶׁר נָשָֹאתָה לָעָם הַזֶּה מִמִּצְרַיִם וְעַד-הֵנָּה: כ   וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה סָלַחְתִּי כִּדְבָרֶךָ: 14:17 ‘But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have declared, 14:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.  14:19 ‘Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.’  14:20 So the Lord said, ‘I have pardoned them according to your word. (NASB)  Contained within the prayer of Moshe is the power of God to forgive the sins of His people drawing a parallel with Scripture in Shemot / Exodus 34 from Parashat Ki Tisa where God declares His glory before Moshe.  Truly great is the power of the Lord (וְעַתָּה יִגְדַּל-נָא כֹּחַ אֲדֹנָי כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ) to forgive sins, having mercy, grace, and a compassionate heart.  The Lord declares that He will bring Caleb and Joshua into the land because they remained faithful to Him.  The Lord says that they have a different spirit, a spirit that follows the Lord fully (כד   וְעַבְדִּי כָלֵב עֵקֶב הָיְתָה רוּחַ אַחֶרֶת עִמּוֹ וַיְמַלֵּא אַחֲרָי וַהֲבִיאֹתִיו אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר-בָּא שָׁמָּה וְזַרְעוֹ יוֹרִשֶׁנָּה:).  The Lord then spells out the number of years the people will remain in the wilderness, 40 years will be spent in the wilderness according to the days they spent spying out the land (14:34).  The Lord then speaks to Moshe detailing when the people enter the land of Canaan they are to make an offering by fire to the Lord in a specific way (15:1-23).  The Lord says that there is one Torah for the people in the land, for the native and for the alien who sojourns among the people (15:29).  Atonement is to be made for the person who sins unintentionally, but the person who despises the Torah of the Lord is to be cut off from his people (15:30-31).  We are then told לח   דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם וְעָשֹוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת עַל-כַּנְפֵי בִגְדֵיהֶם לְדֹרֹתָם וְנָתְנוּ עַל-צִיצִת הַכָּנָף פְּתִיל תְּכֵלֶת: לט   וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְצִיצִת וּרְאִיתֶם אֹתוֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת-כָּל-מִצְוֹת יְהֹוָה וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֹתָם וְלֹא תָתוּרוּ אַחֲרֵי לְבַבְכֶם וְאַחֲרֵי עֵינֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר-אַתֶּם זֹנִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם:  מ   לְמַעַן תִּזְכְּרוּ וַעֲשִֹיתֶם אֶת-כָּל-מִצְוֹתָי וִהְיִיתֶם קְדֹשִׁים לֵאלֹהֵיכֶם: 15:38 ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.  15:39 ‘It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, 15:40 so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. (NASB)  Tzitzit are meant as a reminder of the Mitzvot of the Lord that we are to be holy to our God.  Read more here.