Shelach – Sheini

“Can You Give Me a Hand With These Grapes?”

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

The spies went north and then throughout the land of Israel. In Chevron (Hebron), they saw the descendants of antediluvian giants.

In Nachal Eshkol, which was known for its produce, they cut a cluster of grapes so large that two men carried it between them on a pole. (This is a famous image; perhaps you’ve seen it on a bottle of kosher wine.)

After 40 days, the spies returned and reported to Moshe, Aharon and the entire community. They were then publicly debriefed.

Ten of the spies gave a disparaging and discouraging report. “It’s a great land,” they said, “but we can never take it. It’s full of giants, Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites and other Canaanite nations! There’s no way we could possibly overpower them!”

Kaleiv (Caleb), the spy from the Tribe of Judah, dissented. He assured the people that they could accomplish their goals, but he was shouted down by the other spies. “No, we can’t,” they insisted. “The people there are huge! We’re like insects to them!”

The people started to cry over their bleak fate. They started in on their familiar refrain of how it would have been better to die in Egypt than to be slaughtered upon entering Israel. Some of them even advocated going back to Egypt.

Moshe and Aharon were distraught at this reaction, as were Caleb and Joshua, the two spies who dissented from the majority. They continued to try to persuade the people to come around to their way of thinking.

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