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Parashat Sh'lach - 5775

My friends,

This portion describes the trip of twelve men, all leaders of their respective tribes, who were sent by Moses to tour the Land of Israel, and bring back a report to the people. Moses was very specific as to their mission: "Go up there into the Negev and on into the hill country, and see what kind of country it is. Are the people who dwell there strong or weak, few or many? Is the country in which they dwell good or bad? Are the towns in which they live open or fortified? Is it wooded or not? And take pain to bring back some of the fruits of the land."

The result of this mission brings disaster and a most severe punishment upon the entire generation of people who have just been liberated from Egyptian slavery. Their punishment will be that all those who are 20 years and over will not live to see the Promised Land. They will wander in the wilderness for forty years, until that entire generation perishes. Only the children will be privileged to enter the Promised Land.

The report given by the group was correct. The land was good, the people were strong, the cities were fortified and the fruits were great (witness the giant cluster of grapes). However, ten spies explained that there was no way the Israelites could conquer the land because its inhabitants were too strong, while Joshua and Caleb said that with G-d's help they can win.

To reinforce their words against the two, the ten spies slandered the Land of Israel by saying it is a land that 'eats' its people.

What happened? How could such a simple mission of leaders of the tribes fail so miserably?

By slandering the land, the ten showed that they had no love for the Land of Israel. They did not think that it was worth dying for the land. Whatever bad things they witnessed on their trip led them to spread this horrible myth that the land is 'a killer'.

I believe that this portion is very relevant to our life today. There are so many who slander the State of Israel. Terrible lies against the people of Israel are spread on college campuses and in city halls, asking for condemnation of Israel and punishing the State of Israel in various ways.

We, the Jews of America, have to stand up and be like those two brave individuals, Joshua and Caleb, and defend Israel and stand with Israel at this time when to be anti-Israel has replaced the age-old antisemitism.

Tovah Haaretz Meod Meod - The Land is very good - is what Joshua and Caleb said about the Land. We show our love of Israel by saying טובה הארץ מאד מאד - The Land is exceedingly good.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram