Parsha Talk Shlakh 2023 5783

Parsha Talk with Rabbis Eliot Malomet, Barry Chesler and Jeremy Kalmanofsky. Parashat Sh’lach L’kha [Numbers 13-15] neatly divides into two uneven sections: the story of the spies [13-14] and, as Jacob Milgrom describes it in his JPS Commentary on Numbers, a miscellany of laws. The end of the miscellany is the passage on tzitzit, which became well known as the 3rd paragraph of the Shema. There is a connection between the spies and the tzitzit passage; both contain variation of the Hebrew root “tur”, meaning “to scout” or “to follow”, and zanah, perhaps euphemistically, “to follow one’s lustful urge” or “to be led astray”. Our conversation focused mostly on the spies, which for the rabbis was one of the great catastrophes of biblical history. They imagine it as the first of a series events which took place on the 9th of Av [cf. Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6]. Like many another story in the Bible, it is endlessly fascinating. Shabbat Shalom!