Contempt for God’s Word?

Contempt for God’s Word?

Jun 4, 2021 By Gordon Tucker | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

Numbers chapter 15, having set forth instructions for how to atone for unintentional sins, next turns its attention to deliberate transgressions (30–31):

But the person who transgresses with a high hand, whether native or sojourner—he reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from the midst of his people. For he has shown contempt for the word of the Lord [devar adonai bazah], and God’s commandment he has violated. That person shall surely be cut off, his crime is upon him.

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What True Leadership Demands

What True Leadership Demands

Jun 15, 2020 By Barry Holtz | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

This is truly a fateful parashah. For it is in this week’s Torah reading that we learn why Israel is condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty years before entering the Promised Land. The details of the story are straightforward: Moses chooses twelve representatives, one from each of the tribes, to scout the land that the people are about to enter. The spies are given a very specific assignment: Come back with facts—is this a good land? Are the peoples who live there strong or weak? What is the produce of this land like? (Num. 13:17-20) 

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The Power of One

The Power of One

Jun 28, 2019 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

This week’s parashah, Shelah Lekha, opens with the famous episode of twelve scouts going on a reconnaissance mission to the land of Israel. As most of us know the story, upon their return, ten of them recommend returning to Egypt, whereas just two, Joshua and Caleb, encourage the Israelites to continue their journey to the Promised Land. When we look at the verses of chapter 13, we discover that that is not exactly what they say.

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What Did the Spies Learn About the Land (Before They Even Went There)?

What Did the Spies Learn About the Land (Before They Even Went There)?

Jun 8, 2018 By Alex Sinclair | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

A Jewish leader is talking to a group of Diaspora Jews who are about to visit Israel. “Make sure you visit all over,” he says. “Find out what it’s like there. What are the people like? Is the food good? And when you come back, can you bring me a souvenir?”

Of course, I’m referring to Numbers 13:17–20. Yes, Shelah Lekha is the first example of Israel education in Jewish history. 

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Do Not Enter

Do Not Enter

Jun 16, 2017 By Captain Soderstrom | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

This week’s parashah includes the story of the scouting of the Promised Land. My photograph Do Not Enter can be seen as a modern representation of what the scouts saw: the beauty and bounty of the Land along with the dangers some were reluctant to face. The female figure can be seen as the embodiment of the Land’s fertility, while the foreboding backdrop of a New York City alleyway and large guard dog represent the strength and ferocity of the people living there.

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Intermarriage and the Desert

Intermarriage and the Desert

Jun 16, 2017 By David Hoffman | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

In light of the recent work of colleagues and friends regarding the boundaries of the Jewish people and how that impacts the weddings that should or should not be performed, I cannot but help to read this Shabbat’s parashah in terms of boundaries.

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At the Threshold

At the Threshold

Jul 1, 2016 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

In this week’s parashah, the Israelites stand at the boundary of the Land of Israel—with all its potential for religious and national destiny and for physical danger—considering whether or not to enter. During the spring 2016 semester, JTS’s own entrance was the location of an art installation by Silvio Wolf, who uses moving images, still projections, light, and sound to engage the history and symbolism of specific venues.

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The Gift of Hallah

The Gift of Hallah

Jul 1, 2016 By Reuven Greenvald | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

If you’re a hallah baker, like I am, you know that all your measuring, kneading, and hours of checking on rising dough are totally worth it when, after the hamotzi at the Shabbat table, your family and friends let out a collective “aaah.” When that fluffy, sweet piece of bread melts in their mouths, they know it’s really shabbes.

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Holding On to Torah

Holding On to Torah

Jun 18, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Shelah Lekha

The metaphor is wonderful: the man at sea is Israel, grasping the tzitzit, with God the Captain of the ship stretching out a hand, holding the other end of the lifeline. As with all metaphors, it is not to be taken literally.

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Truth and Mercy

Truth and Mercy

Jun 25, 2005 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Shelah Lekha

Being deliberate in speech and generous in mercy stand at the heart of Parashat Sh’lah L’kha. At the opening of our Torah reading, God commands Moses to send leaders from each tribe to spy on the Land of Canaan. The timing seems auspicious. As the Israelites near the liminal moment of entry, it is fitting that God desires representatives to scout the land. Since the Israelites would soon be God’s agents in dispossessing the Canaanites of their territory, they needed to know what to expect. Regrettably though, the spies return from their mission hastily, reporting that “the people that dwells in the land is powerful, the cities are heavily fortified, and giants live there” (Numbers 13:28). Their brutally truthful report triggers hysteria among the Israelite community which demands a return to Egypt.

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