One of the big “misnomers” in Jewish Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week is calling this week’s parsha, Shlach-Send“The Sin of the Spies.” The very large and honorable delegation sent off to scout out, or more accurately to stake out the Holy Land weren’t called מרגלים miraglim, spies in the Biblical narrative. That’s because they weren’t spies!
Numbers Chapter 13
1The Lord spoke to Moses saying,
אוַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־משֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר:
2“Send out for yourself men who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. You shall send one man each for his father’s tribe; each one shall be a chieftain in their midst.”
The tribal heads had been sent on what’s now called a pilot trip, to stake out, choose the best location for the tribe to settle once they all arrived.
For the past few decades it has been highly recommended that potential olim, immigrants to Israel come a few months or year before their actual immigration date to check out locations, schools etc. Nefesh B’Nefesh and AACI along with other immigrant organizations assist in planning these visits to facilitate an easier more successful aliyah.
17Moses sent them to scout the Land of Canaan, and he said to them, “Go up this way in the south and climb up the mountain.
They weren’t sent out to discuss the pros and cons of living in the Holy Land. They just needed to prepare realistically. And they were supposed to bring back souvenirs, like the grapes, to show their tribes how wonderful the Land is.
But except for Calev and Yehoshua they failed miserably. They sinned and in that they were punished by Gd, and only the next generation was allowed to enter the Land.
Batya Medad has spent most of her life in Israel, having made made aliyah from New York with her husband after their wedding. They began their Israeli life in Jerusalem but moved to Shiloh in 1981, where they live until this day. Many people know her from her blogs Shiloh Musings and A Jewish Grandmother, which are also featured on other media sites. Batya's pet project is promoting Women's Rosh Chodesh Prayer at the site of the Biblical Tabernacle at Tel Shiloh. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.