Bread and Spies by Amitai Glicksman


This week we read Parashat Shelach, the primary focus of which is the story of Moshe sending twelve Meraglim to the land of Kena’an, so that they could bring back a report on the land and decide whether or not it was the best time for Bnei Yisrael to conquer it and move in. As the story goes, the Meraglim return with very negative feedback. All but two, Kaleiv and Yehoshua, report how the people of the land are too strong to attack, and how the land is not fit for people like them. Not only do Bnei Yisrael accept the report of the spies and decide not to conquer the land, but they even complain to Hashem, expressing their wish that they should never have been taken out of Mitzrayim. Hashem, upon hearing this, responds that because of their poor behavior and lack of faith, this entire generation, everyone above the age of twenty, with the exceptions of Kaleiv and Yehoshua, will perish in the desert, and only the younger generation will be permitted to enter the land. He also states that Kaleiv will be rewarded for his faith in Hashem. Bnei Yisrael then change their minds, and tell Hashem, “Hinenu VeAlinu El HaMakom Asher Amar Hashem,” “Here we are, and we shall go up to the place that Hashem spoke of” (BeMidbar 14:40), only to find out that the decision is final.

Now, skip forward a bit. Soon after the story of the Meraglim, the Torah teaches us about the Mitzvah of Challah. The Mitzvah of Challah is to separate a small part of dough when making bread and present it to a Kohein. In the words of the Torah, “MeiReishit Arisoteichem Titnu LaShem Terumah LeDoroteichem,” “From the first of your dough shall you give a portion to Hashem, throughout your generations” (15:21). What does the Mitzvah of Challah have to do with the story of the Meraglim?

One connection may be the separation of the good and the bad. In the case of the Meraglim, Kaleiv and Yehoshua separated themselves from the crowd, with the knowledge that what they said would not be popular. They didn’t do this because they wanted to look good, and they didn’t do this because they wanted to receive the land for themselves. They did it because they knew it was the right thing to do and that it was what Hashem wanted them to do.

The second connection is that in both cases, good deeds that an individual does continue to be rewarded for generations to come. When Bnei Yisrael finally did make their way into Eretz Yisrael, Kaleiv and Yehoshua did get their own land. And in the case of the Challah, the term used by the Torah is “LeDoroteichem,” “For generations.” The lesson learned from this connection is that if you do the right thing without the intention of receiving anything in return, you’ll end up helping many more people than just yourself. Generations after you might benefit from Mitzvot that you perform, or other good deeds that you do. This is an important motivating factor in doing something that may seem difficult and not particularly rewarding, as in the case of Yehoshua and Kaleiv’s protest against the rest of the Meraglim. Although the good deed may not have very many positive repercussions for you now, who knows what it will affect in future generations?

Korach’s Jealousy by Zev Hagler

No Such Thing As Bad Questions? by Benjy Lankin