Being subjective…

Shabbat Kodesh Parashat Shlach Lecha

We will read this week about the extraordinary story of the scouts (or spies) who were sent to explore the Land of Israel prior to what should have been the first “Aliah” of the whole nation

We read at the beginning of the Parasha : (Chapter 13)

וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח אֹתָ֥ם מֹשֶׁ֛ה מִמִּדְבַּ֥ר פָּארָ֖ן עַל־פִּ֣י יְהֹוָ֑ה כֻּלָּ֣ם אֲנָשִׁ֔ים רָאשֵׁ֥י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל הֵֽמָּה׃

So Moses, by G’d’s command, sent them out from the wilderness of Paran, all of them being men of consequence, leaders of the Israelites.

But the “Men of consequence” came back and we read:

וַיֹּצִ֜יאוּ דִּבַּ֤ת הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תָּר֣וּ אֹתָ֔הּ אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר הָאָ֡רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֩ עָבַ֨רְנוּ בָ֜הּ לָת֣וּר אֹתָ֗הּ אֶ֣רֶץ אֹכֶ֤לֶת יוֹשְׁבֶ֙יהָ֙ הִ֔וא וְכׇל־הָעָ֛ם אֲשֶׁר־רָאִ֥ינוּ בְתוֹכָ֖הּ אַנְשֵׁ֥י מִדּֽוֹת׃

Thus they spread calumnies among the Israelites about the land they had scouted, saying, “The country that we traversed and scouted is one that devours its settlers. All the people that we saw in it are of great size”;

Now, where did it all go wrong in such a disastrous way, causing the huge delay in going forth to the Promised Land? There are many answers and explanations to this.

Perhaps. We should look for the first, possibly very small mistake they might have made, in order to understand the tragic result. In the following verse we read:

וְשָׁ֣ם רָאִ֗ינוּ אֶת־הַנְּפִילִ֛ים בְּנֵ֥י עֲנָ֖ק מִן־הַנְּפִלִ֑ים וַנְּהִ֤י בְעֵינֵ֙ינוּ֙ כַּֽחֲגָבִ֔ים וְכֵ֥ן הָיִ֖ינוּ בְּעֵינֵיהֶֽם׃

We saw the Nephilim there—the Anakites are part of the Nephilim—and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them.”

Surely, there was no conversation at all between the spies and the giants…. So how did they come to the conclusion above, saying: “and so we were in their eyes“? It was, obviously, their own assumption.

The spies were sent to observe and report. Once a spy mixes his own (fabricated) assumptions, he is out of his mission, and doing something he was not instructed to do. From here, there is a slippery road to the “evil report:” that they have wrongly amassed.

When we do what we are supposed to do, and we know our mission, we are much less likely to err, than when we decide to “expand” our mission unilaterally….

Shabbat Shalom and Rosh Chodesh tov!

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld


We all remember how the best secret services of the world erred in assessing Iraq’s “Weapons of mass destruction” which was when the best spies added their assumptions (wrongly) to what they saw…