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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 13, v. 2: "V'yosuru es eretz Canaan" - And they will spy the land Canaan - Let them enter the land and see its giants, its open cities, and other powerful aspects. This will be helpful in bringing them to totally rely upon Hashem to do battle for them. If they were to think that the inhabitants were average people with average strengths they would surely realize that Hashem has to be with them to win the wars, but since they had arms they might feel that they were "partners" in the upcoming victories. By sending spies who will report the extreme strength of the inhabitants they will totally subordinate their war efforts to Hashem. What went wrong was "efes ki az " They complained and were concerned. (Yismach Moshe)

Ch. 13, v. 2: "Asher ani nosein livnei Yisroel" - That I give to the bnei Yisroel - The verse does not say "lochem." This is a prophetic expression that foretells of the land not being given to this generation that exited Egypt, but rather to their children. (Lekach Tov)

Ch. 13, v. 2: "Ish echod l'ma'tei avosov" - One man to the tribe of this ancestors - Ibn Ezra says that the spies did not go as a group all over the land. They spread out. The words of our verse indicate that they each went to the parcel of land that their tribe would be given. (Medrash Hagodol)

Ch. 13, v. 2: "Nossi" - A prince - The word "nossi" contains four letters, Nun-Sin-Yud-Alef. The words "yesh" and "ayin" can be extracted from this word. If the prince considers himself a yesh he is an ayin. If he considers himself an ayin he is a yesh. (Degel Machaneh Efraim)

Ch. 13, v. 3: "Kulom anoshim" - All were stalwart people - If so, why did they have such a negative attitude and fear that Hashem would/could not bring their war efforts to a successful conclusion? These thoughts never entered their minds. However, when entering the land and conquering it was imminent their personal concerns came into play. They knew that they were not to be the princes of the tribes in Eretz Yisroel. They would be replaced. They therefore preferred to speak badly of the land and throw fear into the hearts of the people who sent them. This brought about a resounding catastrophe. The nation died in the desert and they died a hideous death. Such is the destructive power of a personal agenda. (Holy Zohar)

Ch. 13, v. 4: "V'eileh shmosom" - And these are their names - When we look at the order of the tribes they represented there seems to be no order. Rishonim deal with this, with some saying that the order was based on the princes' age or greatness. However, these explanations are problematic. On the words in Dvorim, "Vatik'r'vun eilai kulchem" Rashi comments that they came to Moshe as a disrespectful, muddled group. This is reflected here. There is indeed no order! (Rabbi Pinchos of Koritz, Rabbi Yaakov Kamenecki)

Ch. 14, v. 16: "Mibli y'cho'les Hashem" - Hashem does not have the ability - Why would they say this? Wouldn't it be more logical to say that the bnei Yisroel had insufficient merit, and even misdeeds that prevented them from deserving to enter Eretz Yisroel? "Asher shomu shimacho" refers to their hearing the miraculous events surround the bnei Yisroel's exit from Egypt. Their assumption is that there is no way that Hashem would have taken them out of Egypt, let alone with so many overt miracles, without their having great merits. If now they were to die in the desert these nations would assume that it was ch"v a lack of ability on the part of Hashem rather than a lack of merit on the part of the bnei Yisroel. (Holy Alshich)

We might add that this is also the intention of the words in verse 14, that Hashem's presence among the bnei Yisroel is palpable, that He leads them with clouds of glory by day and pillars of fire by night. Obviously they are not lacking merit.

Ch. 14, v. 17: "Yigdal na" - May it now be enlarged - The letter Yud of Yigdal is enlarged. The message Moshe is conveying to Hashem with this is that even though the bnei Yisroel aggravated Hashem with 10 tests, nevertheless, the 10 tests that their patriarch Avrohom passed should stand in their good stead. (Baalei Tosfos)

Ch. 14, v. 18: "Hashem erech apayim" - Hashem who is slow to anger - In parshas Ki Siso we have the 13 attributes and here only six are mentioned. This is because the other seven cannot be mentioned in their favour. "Hashem" appears twice, once for before they sin and once for afterward. Here we are standing after they sinned and this attribute would not be applied given the gravity of their sin. "Emes" is not mentioned because this attribute represents the pure truth, the exacting extent of the law, again not applicable here. The merit of the Patriarchs is not mentioned because the Patriarchs were so bound to Eretz Yisroel body and spirit, and they despised entering it. "Chato'oh is not mentioned because it means an unintentional sin, and here they acted intentionally. (Rabbeinu Bachyei)

Ch. 14, v. 18: "Al bonim al shi'leishim" - On sons on third generation - What happened to the grandchildren? "Bnei vonim k'vonim," sons of sons are considered sons, so they are included in "bonim." (Mishnas Rebbi Eliezer)

Ch. 14, v. 22: "Zeh esser p'omom" - This ten times - "Zeh," with this wrongdoing there is a total of ten aggravations. (Rabbi Saadioh Gaon)

Ch. 14, v. 33: "Uvneichem yi'h'yu ro'im bamidbor arbo'im shonoh" - And your children will be wanderers in the desert forty years - A year in the desert had already passed, so in fact it would only be 39 years. Rabbi Saadioh Gaon answers that the verse means that there would be a total of forty years including the year that they already spent in the desert.

This deserves an explanation as the verse says "yi'h'yu." Perhaps this can be explained based on the words of the mishnoh in the first chapter of Makos. The mishnoh says that when three witnesses have been found testifying falsely in the manner called "hazomoh," their punishment is that that which they would have caused to the defendant is done to them. If it was a money matter then they pay the amount the defendant would have paid. Let us say it was $100. The false witnesses need only pay $50 each, totaling the $100. If they attempted to have him flogged 39 times then they do not split it between them, but rather, they each receive the complete 39 lashes. This is explained by Rabbi Chaim haLevi Soloveitchik. Money is money and the innocent defendant got the $100. With lashes they cannot split it because the pain of the 39th lash is harsher than the 38th, as each lash adds more pain. Giving each of the witnesses a portion of the lashes does not constitute "doing back to them as they planned." They therefore each receive 39 lashes.

Similarly here, there is an accumulative discomfort of being in the desert (notwithstanding that they led a supernatural existence). They were to only wander in the desert another 39 years, but it is called 40 years because they felt the previous year of wandering first. This would also clarify the words "yom l'shonoh," which seemingly do not make sense according to Rabbi Saadioh Gaon, as there were 39 years for 40 days. However, since the years accrued to the first year it "felt like" 40 years. (n.l.)

Ch. 15, v. 39: "U'r'isem uzchartem vaasisem" - And you shall see them and you shall remember and you shall do them - Seeing and remembering bring to the goal of doing Hashem's mitzvos. (Shaarei Simchoh)

Ch. 15, v. 40: "V'lo sosuru acha'rei l'vavchem v'acha'rei eineichem" - And you shall not spy out after your hearts and after your eyes - "After your hearts" refers to heresy, and "after your eyes" refers to immorality. This means that the hearts and eyes have leanings towards these matters. Nevertheless, the Torah says to not follow these negative matters. Do not think that because there was a leaning towards them that you are so lowly that you cannot rise to true holiness. The next verse says that by moving away from these matters "Vi'h'yi'sem k'doshim," you will be holy. (The Holy Chofetz Chaim)



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

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