Were They Really Meraglim? by Ely Winkler


The story in this week’s Parsha is most commonly known and referred to as the story of the Meraglim.  The term Meraglim, and its root, is used many years earlier by Yosef, when he accuses his brother’s of being spies, and later when Yehoshua sends spies out to Israel.  However, where did the actual term of Meraglim, relating to the spies of Shelach, come from?  If you read this week’s Parsha neither the word Meraglim nor its root is found once!  The Torah first mentions the spies as simple “Anashim,” people, and later in the Parsha they are called by Moshe “Tarim,” explorers.  But never once is the term Meraglim found in this week’s Parsha. 

The term Ragel, the root of Meraglim, denotes gossip and slander.  This fits in by Yosef and the accusations against his brothers.  He suspected them of spying for a country, where they would go back to and report against Egypt.  Our 12 spies were sent on a mission to just look over the land, and then to simply report back about it.  However this is not what ended up happening.  The spies did not know their proper place, and ended up giving their personal opinions as to whether or not the land was conquerable.  Therefore, in Moshe’s re-cap of the story in Sefer Devarim, the word “Vayeraglu,” from the root Ragel, is used to describe the spies’ actions in the land.  This is how the Meraglim got their name.  To be called a Meragel is not a bad thing.  When Yehoshua uses it, his spies do nothing wrong.  Also, 2 spies out of 12 from this Parsha, Yehoshua and Kalev, do nothing wrong when they return from spying the land.  However, by the other 10 spies, and by Yosef’s brothers, the term is used negatively.

 The hidden lesson behind the Meraglim is a very important one.  The challenge of a Jew in his everyday life is to make sure he knows what his tasks at hand are, and not to waver from them.  By always staying true to one’s own mission, and properly do Avodat Hashem, one can reach his ultimate goal and complete his task. 

A Code Among Thieves by Yisrael Ellman

Kalev’s Visit by Rabbi Ezra Weiner