If you would like to sponsor our site please go to our sponsor page


Archive for the ‘Parshas Shelach’ Category

Positive Outlook – Parshas Shelach 5771

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
June 16th, 2011
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
This entry is part 37 of 40 in the series Torah Sweets Volume 3

One of the most challenging episodes in the Torah to understand is that of the Meraglim, the Spies. Let us begin with three basic questions.

1)     Hashem commanded Moshe to send spies in the first place, the first words of the Parsha say, “Send men to spy out (Viyasuru) the land,” why does Hashem seem to say that He never agreed to send them?

2)     Why are they called Meraglim, the first words of the Parsha command the Jews to send “Yeesurim, spies,” the word Meragel is only introduced in Devarim (1:24) when Moshe describes the fiasco.

3)     What did they do wrong in their report, they simply stated the facts of what they saw. This was their exact job? They reported that the land produced giants and was impenetrable.

The Kli Yakar sheds beautiful light on this entire matter with one answer that resolves and brings together everything. The difference between Yeesurim and Miraglim is the crux of the matter. Yeesurim are spies that seek out the Yeser, benefit and good, of the land that they are exploring. Meraglim are spies that are “Holchei Rachil, tale-bearers, who seek out the negative in everything. The root of the word Meraglim represents an evil gossiper who expresses only negativity and criticism.

So the explanation is:

1)     Hashem  agreed to send Yeesurim, an envoy that would seek out the good and benefit of the land, but they on their own volition became Meraglim, slanderers, this was exactly what they did wrong. Hence, the first command of the Parsha was never fulfilled and their negative envoy represented Klal Yisrael’s own negativity. The night they came back became the most tragic day of Jewish history, Tisha B’Av.

2)     They were told to be Yeesurim and look for the good, but they chose to be Meraglim and focus on the bad.

3)     Their job was to look at the benefits of the land, instead they made a slanderous report against Hashem and disheartened the entire nation. It thus ends up that there were 10 Meraglim who saw the bad and only two Yeesurim (Yehoshua and Kalev) who focused on the positive and were thus rewarded.

In life, we have a choice as to how we look at every situation and every person that we interact with. We can see the positive and uniqueness of people or we can become distracted by the negative. The difference in focus determines how much success and happiness we will experience.

Categories: Parshas Shelach Tags:

A Work of Art – Parshas Shelach Lechah 5771

Posted by Binyomin Finkelstein
June 16th, 2011
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Before Bnei Yisroel were about to enter Eretz Yisroel, they requested permission to send out spies. After asking Hashem, Moshe is told that if he so wishes, he can send spies for himself (Bamidbar 13:2).

Hashem had already promised to give them the land. There is no need to test G-d. If Hashem promises something, it is in our best interest. Bnei Yisroel had already been informed of the land’s praise. Hashem told Moshe that He is not going to make a decision, rather the choice is theirs.

Once they had made the decision to send out spies, Hashem caused a miracle, to insure their safety. The people of the land were inflicted with plague. The spies were witnesses to countless funerals. When they brought back their report they instilled fear within the people stating that it is a land which consumes its inhabitants (Bamidbar 13:32). They failed to realize that Hashem had orchestrated events in this way to ensure the spies remained undetected. Even though Hashem did not deem it necessary to send out the spies to begin with, he still oversaw their safety, enabling them to be successful in their mission. Their failure to see the positive virtues of the land had a catastrophic effect on the entire generation.

When the people heard the negative reports they started to weep. They disregarded all the previous knowledge they possessed regarding the land. Their tears ran freely, without good reason. Hashem vowed that he would give them something to cry about. That night was the ninth of Av, and in the future would be the date of destruction for both temples. In addition, death was decreed on the generation.

A life lesson we can derive from here can be illustrated though a parable: A little girl was sitting on the floor observing her mother working on a needlepoint. Looking up she found it strange and even a bit ugly to see a series of twists, turns, and knots all bunched up together. She wondered what her mother was doing. Upon completing her project, the mother got up, and showed her daughter a work of art. The girl was astonished when she saw a masterpiece before her eyes.

Everything that happens in our lives, even the seemingly negative is in reality all positive and with our benefit in mind. Although we may not always see the outcome, or understand the reasoning behind day to day events, we must build up the trust and belief that whatever may come our way is truly for the best. Our lives are a tapestry, and Hashem is the artisan.

Beyond the surface

A deeper look at Shabbos Zemiros:

Shalom Aleichem: The tradition to sing “Shalom Aleichem” is based on a  Gemara Shabbos 119b says that on Friday night two angels escort a person from shul to their home. One angel is ‘good’, the other ‘evil’. Upon arrival if they find the candles lit, a set table, and the beds are made all in honor of the holy day; then the ‘good’ angel blesses the home saying: “May it be this way next shabbos as well”. The ‘evil’ angel is then forced to answer amen. If not, then the opposite takes place.  R’ Yaakov Emdan explains this is why we say “Malachei Hashalom” angels of peace. It is our hope that we will receive the blessing of the ‘good’ angel who will bring peace into our homes.   To be continued…….

Food for thought:

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Categories: Parshas Shelach Tags:

Learning From the Mistakes of the Meraglim and Tzelafchad – Parshas Shelach 5770

Posted by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis
June 4th, 2010
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading ... Loading ...


Send for yourself men of stature to spy the land” (Bamidbar 13:2).      Ten makkosmonn and Krias Yam Suf were among the numerous miracles that Hashem performed for the Jewish people during Yetzias Mitzrayim. After seeing Hashem’s Hand perform so many wonders, there was seemingly no place to have any doubt about His ability to take them into Eretz Yisroel. Why was there a need to send spies in beforehand?

The meraglim knew that Hashem is all powerful and had no difficulty miraculously taking the Jewish people into Eretz Yisroel. However, they also realized that He generally acts according to nature. Spies were sent ahead beforehand to check if the land could be conquered naturally without turning to miracles.

When the meraglim realized that Eretz Yisroel could not be conquered naturally, they felt that it was improper to go ahead with their conquest. Relying on a change of nature would mean that the Jewish people would have to elevate themselves to be worthy of these miracles, and they did not feel that Klal Yisroel could rise to the occasion. The Sanhedrin met to decide on this issue, and they agreed with the meraglim not to enter Eretz Yisroel.

Wherein lies the mistake of the meraglim and the Sanhedrin?

Emunah in Hashem obligates us to recognize that, in truth, there is no difference between nature and miracles. Whatever He wants will be the ultimate reality.

In truth, living in Eretz Yisroel, in the palace of the King, while witnessing all of the miracles that would be needed to conquer the land, would obligate Klal Yisroel to elevate themselves. The meraglim were correct in their concern that this would not be a simple task.  However, since Hashem commanded us to go into Eretz Yisroel miraculously, there was no room to make calculations that contradicted this, and the meraglim should have put all their worries aside and listened without hesitation.


Rav Sternbuch recounts that when he first traveled to Eretz Yisroel, he traveled via France, and he met up there with Rav Mordechai Pogramansky. Rav Mordechai asked Rav Sternbuch if he was prepared for his trip, and Rav Sternbuch replied that his suitcases were packed and he was ready to go.

Rav Mordechai responded that his question was not whether he was physically ready. He was referring to the fact that living in Eretz Yisroel requires great preparation beforehand, and one cannot simply hope to have success. For example, while lashon hara is always a serious transgression, in the palace of the King it is much worse.

It was for this reason that Hashem responded so strongly to the transgression of the meraglim and did not let them, nor the rest of the generation, enter Eretz Yisroel. To live in Eretz Yisroel requires constant recognition that Hashem is the only Ruling Power in the universe. “Hashem is one,” which we repeat every day in Shema Yisroel, must be engraved on the heart and mind of everyone living in Eretz Yisroel.

In contrast to this clear recognition of Divine power, Amaleik denies Hashem’s all-encompassing rule of the world, and does not believe in miracles. Therefore, Hashem commanded us to fight and destroy Amaleik in every generation. We are obligated to completely annihilate their presence from the world.

Although the meraglim and their entire generation perished in the desert, the underlying philosophy behind their transgression and that of Amaleik lives on. Now, during the time right before the coming of Moshiach, the power of this ideology continues to grow stronger and stronger. On the day of the final revelation of Hashem’s complete control of the world, this evil power will disappear, and it will be clear that there is only One controlling force in the world.


…are there trees or not?” (Bamidbar 13:20).

Rashi explains that the Torah is speaking metaphorically. Trees refer to people with great merit, not simply to plants in the ground. The people knew that the presence of such individuals in Eretz Yisroel would make capturing the land much more difficult.

What is the deeper meaning of this analogy? Trees are well rooted in the ground and even the strongest gusts can generally not move them. So too, a man of truth is firmly planted, and the gusts of crooked ideologies that blow in the world do not change his way of thinking.

As we approach the time of Moshiach‘s arrival, this attribute becomes increasingly more crucial. The winds of falsehood that exist today have reached hurricane proportions, and only someone with very clear hashkofas haTorahcan stand strong in the midst of such gales. We must provide ourselves and our families with the proper Jewish chinuch to ensure that we can maintain our Jewish identities.

Another attribute of a tree is that it produces fruit. Similarly, a tzaddik is rewarded in this world and the next for the results of his actions as well as the deed itself. The smallest act can produce countless fruit over the span of generations.

Every year, on a person’s yahrtzeit, the niftar is judged for his actions that year. If he has already passed on to the next world, what is the point of analyzing his deeds again and again, year after year? While he can no longer do more mitzvos, what he did in his lifetime continues to bear fruit, and it is on this that he is judged.

This is the meaning of what we say each day in tefillah, “Eternal life He planted within us.” A Jew who fills his life with Torah and mitzvos is well rooted in the next world even during his lifetime. We must try to do whatever is in our ability during our lives, and in that way, we will reap great benefits in the World to Come.


At the end of the parsha, Tzelafchad was mechallel Shabbos. In doing so, he was the first person punished with death for transgressing. After seeing so many miracles, how could he act against the Torah?

The Medrash Tanchumah says that Tzelafchad acted lesheim Shomayim. After the entire generation that transgressed was punished, they lost their drive to keep the Torah. They felt that if they wouldn’t have a portion in the World to Come, why should they do mitzvos?

In order to refute this way of thinking, he was mechallel Shabbos. When he received the death penalty for his actions, it was clear to all observers that they must continue to keep the Torah as before. However, with all of Tzelafchad’s good intentions, he was mistaken in his thoughts.

In rare instances, we find the concept of an aveirah lishmah, a sin done with good intentions. These instances are few and far between, and can only be considered after consulting with gedolei Torah. Tzelafchad acted on his own accord, and although he meant well, his transgression was not an aveirah lishmah.

Some people transgress lesheim Shomayim with numerous good reasons to back up their actions. We must learn from the meraglim and Tzelafchad that even the most elevated intentions are not sufficient reason to sin. Especially during the time before Moshiach when the tests we face are extremely subtle, the need to follow the exact guidelines of the Torah is even more crucial than ever.

Categories: Parshas Shelach Tags:

In the Eye of the Beholder – Parshas Shelach 5770

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
June 4th, 2010
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

שלח לך אנשים ויתרו את ארץ כנען (יג:ב).

“Send for yourself men to spy out the land of Canaan” (13:2).

The incident of the Meraglim is always illuminating. There are many questions which need to be answered. First on my list has always been their very name. The Torah says that their job was “ויתרו, to spy out” and repeats this phrase numerous times. The only time that we find them called “Meraglim” is in Devarim (1:23) when Moshe recounts the incident. What is going on here? They should be called “Turim”? Secondly, the most famous question is, what did they do wrong? They reported what they saw, these were undeniable facts, and more so, Hashem sent them to spy? They simply did their job?!

A beautiful answer is given by the Kli Yakar. This idea is very precious and meaningful to me as I believe it puts life into perspective. I have developed it according to my understanding.

What is the difference between “ויתרו” and “מרגל”? The word “ויתרו” comes from the root “יתר, benefit/advantage”. The word “מרגל”, comes from the root of “tale-barer, fault-finder”.

In every situation in life, there are two ways to look at things. Some choose to view the good and others focus on the bad. This is not a matter of vision, it is a matter of outlook. Some people train themselves to find growth, benefit and positivity in life’s situations; others only allow themselves to see the worst! The positive perspective is called “לתור, to see the good”. The negative outlook is called, “לרגל, to see the bad”.

The Kli Yakar explains that when Hashem commanded to send the spies He made it clear and repeated numerous times that their job was to make sure that they went with a positive outlook, “ויתורו, go see the good”! However, they went and only focused on the negative, they downgraded to become “מרגלים, negative reporters”. They are called Meraglim because that was their exact sin! By having the wrong perspective, they were not the spies which Hashem endorsed.

The negative things which they described were all provided by Hashem either in order to distract the inhabitants from catching them (mass death toll) or to provide Klal Yisrael with luscious fruit in Eretz Yisrael. They however came with a negative agenda and thus refused to see anything positive. Instead, they used it as fuel to prove their negative outlook.

Each time that we look at people, situations and events we chose our perspective. Those that chose to see in the positive light, live more meaningful and enjoyable lives!

Truthful Stand – A Short Thought on Parshas Shelach 5770

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
June 4th, 2010
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

When the Meraglim returned, they prefaced their evil report with words of undeniable truth. “Indeed, the land is flowing with milk and honey, but…. we are doomed….”

The commentators point out that in order for them to give credence to their slanderous report they needed to start with some truth. Chazal teach us that “falsehood has no feet”.  Only when some truth is mixed in can a lie take off the ground… Thus, the Meraglim had to begin with a partial truth.

Rashi explains the words of the Gemara (Shabbos 104a) to state: the letters that comprise the word “שקר, falsehood” are all pointed at their base of one leg, in stark contrast with the letters of “אמת, truth” which all stand on two firm legs. This signifies that truth has its own basem to stand on, however, falsehood, will quickly tumble over!

The Maharsha (there) adds an additional insight. The letters ofשקר  are not all on the same baseline. The leg of the “ק” protrudes downward, whereas in אמת, all of the letters are on the same level. This signifies that truth is congruent and respectful, but falsehood is divided and uneven.

May our words only stand on absolute truth!

Categories: Parshas Shelach Tags:

Locusts and Ants – Parshas Shelach 5769

Posted by Rabbi Yosef Tropper
June 18th, 2009
Show/Add Comments (1) Views (100)
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

…ונהי בעינינו כחגבים וכן היינו בעיניהם (יג:לג).

“…And we appeared to them as locust and so we were small in their eyes” (13:33).


The Miraglim, spies, came back from their mission to gather intelligence regarding the Land and reported their famous disheartening words. Klal Yisroel would suffer from this event for generations. Let us look at a famous question and find a new insight as to what was happening here.

The verse states explicitly that the Miraglim viewed themselves as locust insects, but Rashi brings down (based on Sotah 35a) that when they were seen by the giant inhabiters of the Land, they were called by a different name. They heard the people saying, “there are ants in the fields!” What is going on with the varied animals here, locusts and ants?

I suggest the following. The first Rashi in Bereishis tells us that Hashem began the Torah enumerating all of the details of His creation of the world in order to make known that everything belongs to Him! If anyone would complain and ask what right do the Jews have to possess Eretz Yisrael, the answer is already stated. Hashem created the entire world and He gives the lands to whom He sees fit!

The nations of the world saw the grandeur and might of Hashem since the time that He took His Nation out of Egypt with great miracles. They feared Him and His Nation and they knew that they would soon be removed from the Land that was rightfully the property of the Jews. It was the spies that questioned Hashem’s abilities, they did not believe that Hashem was capable of bringing them there! Thus, the Goyim realized the truth that the Jews would soon be taking their Land by Hashem’s desire, but the Meraglim did not see themselves as rightful owners.

This is hinted by the two animals mentioned. Each perspective is represented by the insect which was used to describe them.

The Gemara in Eruvin (100b) states that had the Torah not been given, one could have logically deduced the prohibition of stealing by observing the ant. Rashi explains that the ant will not touch any food which belongs to its friend! Parenthetically, it is precisely from this insect that Shlomo HaMelech advised us to learn how to be productive and not lazy! One who does not steal and take shortcuts must work hard to earn an honest living!

The Gemara in Shabbos (32b) states that as a punishment for stealing Hashem sends locust to destroy the crops! It is a simple measure for measure formula. If you steal from others, then Hashem will send the crop-stealing machines to pay you back!

Thus, ants represent rightful and honest ownership and locusts represent theft!

The Goyim of the land described the Jews as ants, because they recognized that just as ants do not rob, so too the land is rightfully the Jewish inheritance. The Miraglim on the other hand, questioned Hashem’s abilities. They viewed their takeover as an illegal theft, accordingly, they termed themselves as the stealing locust.

Hashem indeed is All Capable and we wait anxiously for Him to redeem us and bring us back to the Land which is rightfully ours by His choice!

Categories: Parshas Shelach Tags: