The Transgression of the Spies
This week’s Torah portion presents numerous and obvious difficulties. The nation is poised to enter the Land of Israel, a fertile and bountiful Land, promised to our Forefathers hundreds of years earlier. The people experienced one miracle after another when
Abarbanel maintains it was the people themselves who wanted to send the spies and have them report back to them directly.
In any case, there clearly was no need to send spies and it was evident that the faith of the people was not strong enough to deal with the looming challenge. The people knew that the direct Divine intervention they had been experiencing, such as the pillars of cloud and fire that directed them, and the manna that sustained them, would cease once they entered the Land. The responsibility to conquer the Land and sustain themselves in it would be in their own hands. They couched their request in purely military terms, which was more acceptable, but their real concern was much deeper. Their emphasis on tactics and strategy was merely a subterfuge for their more fundamental lack of trust in
Their fundamental lack of faith in the desirability and importance of the Land of Israel is clearly evident from the initial words of the spies when they returned from their mission: “We came to the Land to which you sent us.” They should have said, “… to which the L-rd our
This fundamental disconnect from their unique connection to the Land of Israel clouded all of their perceptions and interpretations of what they saw and experienced during their forty days in the Land.