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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 13, v. 18: "Ur'isem es ho'oretz mah hee v'es ho'om ha'yosheiv o'lehoh" - And you will see the quality of the land and the nation that resides in it - A group of twelve foreigners enters the land and also harvests numerous fruits and takes it back with them. Add to this that the transport of the fruit was done in a most public manner. The clusters of grapes were suspended from eight poles. Nevertheless, they are not accosted by the inhabitants of the land. All this should serve as a clear sign that Hashem is with them and will likewise continue to protect them when they will enter the promised land to conquer its inhabitants.

None of this helps. They were lacking full trust in Hashem and instead found a "rational" explanation for their unhindered activities. "The inhabitants of the land are so large, so mighty, so sure of themselves, that they took no heed to our activities. We were like ants in their eyes." Everything can be explained away by a non-believer. (B'eir Mayim Chaim)

Ch. 13, v. 20: "Ulkachtem mipri ho'oretz" - And you shall take from the fruit of the land - What right did they have to walk away with different fruits without paying? Mahar"i Asad answers that they did pay for it. Translate "Ulkachtem" as, "And you shall purchase."

Ch. 13, v. 23: "Va'yovo'u ad nachal Eshkol va'yich'r'su mishom zmoroh" - And they came to the valley Eshkol and they cut from there a branch - Was there any special intent on their part to specifically take fruit grown in a valley?

1) The gemara says that there was not a mountain nor a hill upon which they did not worship their false gods. It could very well have been that the tree from which the fruit would be taken would be an "asheiroh" tree. To avoid this they specifically took from a valley. (Ponim Yofos)

2) The mishnoh in the first chapter of Bikurim says that first ripened fruit should not be brought from fruit that grew in a valley because the valley receives limited sunshine and the fruit in turn is not prima d'prima. They specifically took fruit grown in a valley and said that if this colossal fruit grew in a valley, fruit grown where there is full sunlight and surely on a hill is even larger. This further bolstered their claim that since the fruit is so gigantic, all the more so the lands inhabitants. (Hadrash V'ho'iyun)

Ch. 13, v. 32: "Ufigreichem a'tem yiplu bamidbor ha'zeh" - And your corpses will fall in this desert - This is most puzzling. A corps does not fall. A live person, if standing when death comes upon him, then falls dead. When Reuvein wanted to guarantee his father that Binyomin would be brought back hale and hearty, he told Yaakov that if he did not bring Binyomin back, Yaakov could put Reuvein's two sons to death. This is unfathomable. Baalei Tosfos (also Chasam Sofer response O.Ch. #218) explains that this means that his sons should not be given a portion in the inheritance of Eretz Yisroel. This is called death in light of Yehoshua and Koleiv being the only ones of their generation who received portions in Eretz Yisroel and this is expressed as "Choyu."

This gemeration is now being given the devastating news that they would not enter Eretz Yisroel, and not inherit it. As soon as they received this news they were "dead." This is "Ufigreichem a'tem." (n.l.)

Ch. 14, v. 8: "Im chofeitz bonu Hashem v'heivi osonu el ho'oretz hazose unsonoh lonu eretz asher hee zovas cholov udvosh" - If Hashem wants us and He will bring us into this land and He will give it to us a land that flow milk and honey - The spies brought back a negative report once they saw how abundant were the agricultural blessings. They feared that when the bnei Yisroel would enter and take over, they would be drawn to all the material assets, and weaken their commitment to serving Hashem.

Yehoshua and Koleiv countered this by first totally agreeing with the spies insofar as the physical blessings of the land. However, they said, this was no reason to be reluctant to enter the land and vanquish it. "Im chofeitz bonu Hashem," if we focus our will and drive to serve Hashem, and He would bring us into this land, we can still serve him fully, even though it is replete with material goods. We may not master over the situation in which we are to serve Hashem. He told us to enter the land and serve him even when we have material wealth. (Admor of Radomsk in Tiferes Shlomo)

Ch. 15, v. 2: "Ki sovo'u el eretz moshvoseichem asher ani no'sein lochem" - When you will come to the land of your residence that I give you - Why does this parsha come on the heels of the incident with the spies? The bnei Yisroel were just told that they themselves would die out in the desert and added to this they would wander in the desert for close to forty years. They became despondent, thinking that some other misdeed would push off the entry to the Holy Land even more or indefinitely. Hashem therefore immediately told them that the generation born in the desert would enter the Holy Land with no strings attached. (Daas Z'keinim, Rosh)

Ch. 15, v. 20: "Reishis arisoseichem chaloh torimu" - The first of your dough shall you separate - A person's ritual responsibilities towards his sons are three: At the age of eight days to have him circumcised (Sh.O. Y.D. #260), at the age of 30 days to redeem him from a Kohein if he was the firstborn (Sh.O. Y.D. #305), and to begin teaching him Torah at the age of 5 years (Sh.O. Y.D. #245). These are alluded to in our verse. "Reishis arisoseichem," when your firstborn child is still in his crib, "CHaLoH," then at the age of 8 days, "Ches," have him circumcised. At the age of 30 days, "Lamed," redeem him from a Kohein. At the age of 5 years, "Hei," begin teaching him Torah. (Chasam Sofer)

Ch. 15, v. 20: "Kisvuas goren torimu osoh" - Similar to grain of the silo shall you separate it - What is the comparison of separating "chaloh" to tithing grain (see Rashi)? When one harvests his grain and prepares it for the next stages he can obviate the need to tithe (on a Torah level). This can be done by bringing the grain into the storage houses in a circumvented manner, i.e. through its windows, etc. However, since this would be done in public view people are reluctant to do so out of embarrassment. When it comes to separating chaloh from dough it can likewise be avoided through mixing small batches of dough, or selling a share in the dough to a non-Jew and then afterwards buying it back. These ploys can readily be done in a private manner, not in the public eye. Our verse therefore tells us that we should tithe chaloh just as we tithe grains, and not avoid the obligation to do so through any ploys. (Meshech Chochmoh)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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