For the week ending 18 June 2022 / 19 Sivan 5782

Parshat Shlach Lecha

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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At the insistence of the Bnei Yisrael, and with G-d's permission, Moshe sends 12 scouts, one from each tribe, to investigate Canaan. Anticipating trouble, Moshe changes Hoshea's name to Yehoshua, expressing a prayer that G-d will not let him fail in his mission. They return 40 days later, carrying unusually large fruit. When 10 of the 12 scouts state that the people in Canaan are as formidable as the fruit, the people are discouraged. Calev and Yehoshua, the only two scouts still in favor of the invasion, try bolstering the people's spirit. The nation, however, decides that the Land is not worth the potentially fatal risks, and instead demands a return to Egypt. Moshe's fervent prayers save the nation from Heavenly annihilation. However, G-d declares that they must remain in the desert for 40 years until the men who wept at the scouts' false report pass away. A remorseful group rashly begins an invasion of the Land, based on G-d's original command. Moshe warns them not to proceed, but they ignore this and are massacred by the Amalekites and Canaanites. G-d instructs Moshe concerning the offerings to be made when the Bnei Yisrael will finally enter the Land. The people are commanded to remove challah, a gift for the kohanim, from their dough. The laws for an offering after an inadvertent sin, for an individual or a group, are explained. However, should someone blaspheme against G-d and be unrepentant, he will be cut off spiritually from his people. One man is found gathering wood on public property in violation of the laws of Shabbat and is executed. The laws of tzitzit are taught. We recite the section about the tzitzit twice a day to remind ourselves of the Exodus.


Impossible Objects

“See the Land. How is it?” (13:18)

In the twentieth century, artists began to play with perspective by drawing "impossible objects." These objects included stairs that always ascend or cubes where the back meets the front. Such works were popularized by the artist M. C. Escher and the mathematician Roger Penrose. Although referred to as "impossible objects," such objects as the Necker Cube and the Penrose triangle can be sculpted in 3D by using anamorphic illusion. When viewed at a certain angle, such sculptures appear as the so-called impossible objects.

In 1946, American scientist Adelbert Ames Jr. invented the “Ames room.” When viewed through a peephole, the room appears to have normal perspective. However, all other viewpoints reveal that the room is constructed of irregular trapezoids. One of the most interesting effects of an Ames room is that the distorted perspective can make people and objects look much bigger or smaller than they really are. For this reason, Ames rooms are widely used in movies for practical special effects. A well-known example is the homes in the Shire from the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Using this forced perspective, the character of Gandalf appears much larger than the characters of Frodo and Bilbo, without the use of digital effects.

“I spy with my little eye…” is a guessing game where one player (the spy) chooses an object within sight and announces to the other players that "I spy with my little eye something beginning with...," and names the first letter of the object. Other players attempt to guess this object.

In truth, we all have ‘little eyes.’ Eyes that want to see — what they want to see. This world can be a world of anamorphic illusion. If we choose to rely on our own vision, we will blame the Creator for creating a world that makes no sense to us, a world of illusion. Hashem gives us 20/20 vision. But to see things as they really are, we must see beyond our little eyes and use the eyes of faith.

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