Shanen Bloom Werber
Family coordinator for the first Torah MiTzion’s presence: in Chicago in the 1990’s
Shanen is a medical advocate and community activist living in Gush Etzion.

When we think of the story of the meraglim (the scouts), we might not realize that there is a connection to the mitzva of tzizit which appears later in parshat Shlach Lecha.
The first topic is a narrative with historic implications. It is a long episode of the meraglim, reported as “before, during, and after”. An additional story follows: a consequence of the meraglim’s report, and intensifies the incident adding further drama and history to the report of Bnei Yisrael second desert year, as they made their way toward the Promised Land.
The representatives sent as scouts were princes of their tribes. The community waited and anticipated the report. As a community they reacted, and as a community they
were punished, when they focused on the negativity of what the meraglim concluded in their presentation.

The scouts’ fact finding seemed positive: the large and varied fruits which were brought back proved the bounty of the land, for example, but the meraglim
emphasized the fortified cities and the giant inhabitants, intimidating Am Yisrael. Missing was a message of encouragement: that with HaShem leading the people in
battle they would indeed conquer the land and inherit it.
Instead, the meraglim SAW the facts, but ten of the scouts interpreted them negatively in their report to the people. It is not only what is seen that is significant, it is how it is
viewed which makes the difference. What a simple but powerful life lesson! The lesson of seeing the positive; of being realistic, but hopeful.

Shlach Lecha then tells the story of those who SAW the mistake of believing the negativity of the meraglim and wanted to go now! to the Promised Land – to make up
for accepting the negative report and for not trusting in HaShem. What they did not SEE was that HaShem was no longer with them in this effort. The people had lost His
guiding protection. The ma’apilim, those who wanted to ascend to the Land, SAW their mistake, but could not SEE that they lost their divine cover.

Once the parasha moves over to mitzvot, there is another vision related story interwoven in the mitzva list. The people SEE a man collecting wood on Shabat, a
forbidden work. But as a first time occurrence, the punishment for this act is not clear, and needed to be divinely directed.
The concluding mitzva in the parsha is tzitzit: the white wool with one tekhelet -blue string fringes which are to be attached to every four cornered garment men wear. The fringes are there so that we SEE them / pay attention to them, and to remember themitzvot and do them. We are not to stray after what our eyes SEE.
So we SEE: view the facts positively, understand what we SEE, clarify what to do; remember the mitzvot and do them, and don’t stray from the path HaShem is there to guide us on!
May He continue to guide our fighters and our leaders in this difficult war and return the hostages to the Promised Land.
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