Parsha Talk – Shlach Lekha 5781

Rabbis Eliot Malomet, Barry Chesler and Jeremy Kalmanofsky invite you into the rabbi’s study once again! The main focus of Parashah Sh’lach L’chah [Numbers 13-15] is the tragic episode of the spies, the tribal chieftains sent to scout out the land. Their negative report sets back Israelite history a generation, for those over 20 are condemned to die in the wilderness, leader and follower alike. For the rabbis, the day of their evil report, the 9th of Av, prefigures the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, among other bad things that befell the Jewish people, and some have associated any number of catastrophes since then with this date. Our conversation focuses likewise on the spies, exploring the psychological dimensions of the portrayal and comparing this sin with the sin of the Golden Calf [Exodus 32:1-33:23]. We conclude with a consideration of the mitzvah of tzitzit, the fringes traditionally worn on four-cornered garments. Shabbat Shalom!