This week we read Parshas Shelach. It tells of Moshe sending twelve spies into Israel and the tragic result which this action caused. It begins with the Torah telling us that “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying.” However, following this, Hashem did not tell Moshe to “send men who would scout the land.” Instead, He told him to “send men for yourself, men who will scout the land.”
What is the meaning of Moshe sending these spies “for himself?” Rashi quotes the Sages and explains that Hashem told Moshe to send them “according to your own (Moshe’s) understanding. I am not commanding you (to do so), but you may send (them) if you wish.
Rashi explains that “at the time that Moshe sent them, they were virtuous.” This ought to be obvious; Moshe himself chose them. Not only were they virtuous Jews, but they were those who were best suited for the job. When they left on their mission, they were righteous people. Yet, they were unsuccessful in carrying out their mission. Not only that, but their negative report caused the entire Jewish Nation to “cry for all generations.” How was it possible for them to make such a grave mistake?
As mentioned above, the name of our Parshah is Shelach, meaning “send.” It is from the same root as the Hebrew word “שליח – Shliach – Emissary.” We must all learn from here how to avoid making the same mistake that the spies did. The way to do this is by always keeping in mind that we are Moshe’s emissaries. Hashem does not want us to be robots. He does not want us to stop at “נעשה – Na’aseh – We will do.” We also need to use our understanding in carrying out our mission; “נשמע – Nishmah – We will understand.” However, we must make sure not to allow our motives to get in the way. No matter how much one understands, no matter how intelligent one is, mixing in one’s feelings can very easily cause one to come to a false conclusion. It is only by remaining connected to Moshe, the one who sent us on our mission, that we can be sure to stay on a straight path.
By so doing, we will surely merit the final redemption. At that time, we will achieve the conquest of the entire land of Israel.
I wish one and all a Good Shabbos and a healthy summer!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 23, Pages 92 ff.
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. Parshas Shelach, Bamidbar 13:1.
. See the Talmud Sotah 34, Side b. Similarly see the Midrash Tanchumah on our Parshah at the end of Section 5. See also Bamidbar Rabbah Chapter 16, Section 8.
 See Rashi’s comments to Parshas Shelach, Bamidbar 13:3.
. See Talmud Taanis 29, Side a.