This week’s Parasha, Shelach, tells the story of the 12 spies being sent out to Israel to report to Moshe what kind of land there is. As you might know 10 of the spies come back with the update that there are inhabitants that will be dangerous for the Jews. However, two of the spies confirm this but say that with G-ds help they would be able to defeat the enemies if needed. The punishment for the people that believed the 10 spies was to wander in the desert for 40 years.
When reading this there is one thought that comes to mind, if Hashem was going to punish the Jews for believing the 10 spies, why did Hashem even send the spies?
Personally, I would say that this was probably a way for Hashem to test our trust in him. We had just received the Torah and we had already defied him once. Maybe we just weren’t ready to have enough faith in Hashem. We needed some more time to become a people that would put our trust in Hashem.
Nachmanides explains that the spies were sent out to be able to come back with information about the people living in Canaan to help the Jews to find the best way to approach the land. It was only Moshe that added on the mission to update them about the land itself since he was sure of them coming back with an update saying that the land was fruitful and beautiful. This update would reassure the Jews that this was the right place for them. The thrill of a beautiful land would make them eager to proceed with the conquest.
This was all done due to the insecurity Moshe had in the people and he needed something to reassure them and help them overcome their fears. However, unfortunately 10 of the spies had more fear than faith which led to Hashem having no other choice but to punish the people.
From this, there are certain points we can learn. With the several terror attacks happening in England and the rest of the world recently we are fully aware of that the world isn’t such a great place all the time, just like Canaan had people in it that would cause several problems to the Jews but that didn’t make it a less fruitful and beautiful country. We should choose to see what the 2 spies saw instead of the fear that the 10 spies had.
We can also take from this that even though there are challenges in life and if we defy Hashem we will get punished, not because Hashem wants us to go through bad things but because he wants to make sure we are ready to appreciate what we receive.
We should be more like Moshe and try to counteract our fear with the beauty of the world and the good deeds we do for each other because then we will be rewarded with something as amazing as Israel.
Naomi Kudren grew up in Stockholm, Sweden and now lives in Manchester, UK. She studied her undergraduate degree in Media and Communications at Liverpool Hope University and her MSc in Digital Media: Audio Production at the University of Salford. Whilst studying in Liverpool, Naomi was Co-President of the Jewish student association - Liverpool J-Soc.
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