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YIP Parsha Project Parshat Shelach

06/10/2014 07:54:10 PM


YIP Parsha Project

Parshat Shelach                                                                                 Shelley & Stu Tauber

Scene 1

G-D:      Ok Moses, I am ready to lead the Jewish people into the Holy Land. Get’em ready.

Moses: OK, but I think we should send some spies to check out the land first.

G-D:      Not necessary Moses. I will take care of making sure the Hebrew people are victorious.

Moses: I’m sure you will, but it can’t hurt to send out the spies anyway.

G-D:    (With exasperation and perhaps an eye roll) Fine! Go identify one chieftain from each of the 12 tribes to scout out the land.

Moses: (Thinking to himself) Hhmmm!!! Whom to choose?

Scene 2

Moses: (Speaking to the spies) Okay. You are the 12 I have selected. I want you to check out the land. See if it is a good place for us to live. Also, how tough are these guys? Can we take them in a fight?

Spies:  On our way!

Scene 3

10 Spies: (Having just returned from the Holy Land and in the process of reporting directly to the people) Great place. We will however get our butts kicked by the warriors who live there.

Caleb & Joshua (the 2 remaining spies): Don’t be ridiculous. Great place to live and with G-D’s help we will certainly take home the gold!

The Hebrew People: OMG!!! We will be wiped out! Moses, this is your fault. Perhaps we should go back to Egypt instead of staying in the desert?

Moses: (With his brother Aaron falling on the ground and crying) How could all this happen?

Scene 4:

G-D: I have had it with these people. I am going to wipe them all out.

Moses: Not so fast G-D. You want all the non-Jews to think you wiped out the Hebrews because you couldn’t help them conquer the Holy Land and maybe You are the one who is not so powerful.

G-D: (Not really worried about what a bunch of humans think responds) Nice try Moses, but 2 can play at this game. OK. I won’t wipe them out, but the Jews will now wander the wilderness for 40 years until everyone who is over 20 years of age dies out. Then I will take the next generation, who won’t suffer from this slave mentality, into the Holy Land.

Moses: How about Caleb and Joshua. Do they have to die out also? I am especially fond of that Joshua, you know.

G-D:    Good point. They showed themselves to be pretty loyal to me. Ok! I will let just the 2 of them, from this generation, go into Israel as well.

Moses: Sounds like a fair deal to me. See you later G-D. (Thinking to himself as he walks away – “I forgot to ask G-D if I am included along with Joshua and Caleb. After all, I am over 20 years of age. What am I thinking? Of course I am going with them. G-d and I are very close!”)

G-D: (Thinking to himself) What to do with this Moses guy?????


From the critic’s corner

Good theater here. But, it leaves the reader unfulfilled. The commentaries found it to be a pretty straightforward story. The spies sin, G-d punishes, and we all move on to the next phase of the story. Yet there are too many unanswered questions to be pondered:

·         Didn’t G-D know that the Jews were not ready to engage in battle before the spies were even selected? (The Lord is all-knowing after all.)


·         Why is Moses pressing for spies anyway? (G-D has already said he is ready to lead the Jews to victory. This Lord has certainly shown himself to have a trick or two up his sleeve when it comes to miracles.) Why wouldn’t Moses let go of his spying plan?


·         What kind of leader is Moses? He really couldn’t find 10 crazy tough guys (out of at least 1/2 million army aged recruits) who, believing they were invincible, would have been ready to fight for the land? (In most places of work if a manager picks 10 losers out of a team of 12 people we blame the manager for poor judgment, not the people who failed at the job.) And what’s with that falling on the ground crying thing? (There is no crying in baseball and there is certainly no crying when you need to face down a mob! Believe we needed a bit more strength here!)


·         We are not directly told here whether Moses will be denied entry into the Holy Land because of this fiasco. Is he exempt like Joshua & Caleb or is he going down with the whining ones? (Turns out in a few weeks, a couple of parshas down the road, G-D will punish Moses for beating a stone with his staff instead of telling the rock to bring forth water as G-D had commanded him to do. Moses will be denied entry into the Holy Land because of this transgression. Even the Rabbis of old questioned whether this wasn’t a pretty big punishment for a minor infraction.) Is it possible G-d decided from the very beginning to punish Moses for the spy debacle? (It was, after all, Moses’ idea and insistence that the spies be sent out to check out the land.) Was Moses caught in his own web of doubt?

After giving this story much thought, we would like to suggest perhaps a novel interpretation; one very different from the standard rabbinical interpretation. Through the telling of the story, we witness an example of what business leaders call “managing up.” Sure, G-D is ready to take the people into the Holy Land and ensure their victory. G-D thinks big picture and long term. The weaknesses of the ancient Hebrews will have little effect upon the Divine plan. Moses, however, thinks leading the Hebrews into the land of Canaan is not such a good idea. He lives with these people and knows what they are really like; human frailties and all. Instead of directly challenging the Lord, however, he insists on the spies, stacks the deck against G-D’s plan by selecting a group he knows will fail to lead, and thereby forces G-D to acknowledge that a different type of Jewish nation needs to be the conquerors of the land of Israel.

Simultaneously, Moses takes a gamble that G-D will not punish him for being less than supportive of the overall game plan; a gamble he loses. It would appear that the Lord sees through what is happening here and while G-D is willing to go along with Moses’ analysis of the Hebrew people, he will nonetheless punish Moses for a lack of faith in the people and look to leave him behind in the wilderness with the first generation of Jewish immigrants. G-D just has to find the right moment to tell him.

The lessons for the rest of us:

1.      Mortals cannot truly appreciate Divine plans. Our vision is too time limited.

2.      G-D knows what is in the minds and hearts of his creations. Let’s try and be as forthright as possible. 

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