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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

In the shadow of the spies

by Alan Perlman at IsraelInsider
In the Torah portion of Shalach Lecha, we read the account of the sin of the spies. To recap briefly, G-d is about to bring the Israelites into the Land of Israel. However, the Israelites choose to send out twelve scouts, one from each tribe, to spy out the land. Ten returned with a highly negative report and strongly counseled against entering the land. Two, Caleb and Joshua, report that the Israelites should put their trust in G-d, and go up to the land immediately. The nation rejects entry into the land, accepting the report of the ten instead of the two. G-d decrees that the generation dies in the wilderness, and that the next generation enters the land. Too late, the people realize their foolishness, and cry all night. It is the 9th of Av (the eleventh month, making it the original 9/11), and it becomes a perennial time of tragedy for the Jewish people. The next day, disregarding the decree, the Israelites try unsuccessfully to enter the land - the door has been slammed shut.

Many lessons can be learned from this Torah portion, but the central point is that when the Jews are offered, and then reject, a desirable path to redemption, G-d leads them along a more difficult path. This lesson may not be important during exile, but it is critical once redemption begins. And this past century has witnessed at least three major instances of this lesson being ignored at tremendous cost.
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