Torah potion Shelach L’cha:  Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

Shelach L’cha is Hebrew for “Send for yourself.”  It refers to G-d’s command to Moses to send scouts to check out the Promised Land.

Summary: YHVH instructs Moses to send out twelve men (one from each tribe) to scout the land of Canaan.  Moses  meets with the tribal representatives and asks them to check out the  viability of the land (if the people are strong or weak, few or many, is the land wooded, etc.).  He also tells them to bring back fruit – it was the time of the grape harvest.  After their 40-day exploration (some translators say “spying.”), they brought back a huge cluster of grapes, along with other fruit.  Ten of the scouts reported that Canaan was dangerous and there were giants in the land.  Caleb (one of the scouts) assures everyone that they can persevere in Canaan; the other scouts prevailed and the people believed them.  The people threatened to overthrow Moses.  Joshua and Caleb once again appealed to the people and told them that the land was good, but the people threatened to stone them to death.  YHVH asks Moses how long will the Children of Israel continue to hate Him?  He will destroy the people and give Moses a new nation to lead.  Moses convinces YHVH to let the people live, otherwise it will harm His reputation in Egypt for His alleged inability to bring the people into the Promised Land.  Moses repeats the 13 attributes of G-d (including slow to anger and abundance of mercy).  YHVH relents and instead says that the generation that left Egypt will be forced to wander for 40 years and die in the wilderness, only Caleb and Joshua will enter the Promised Land with the next generation. YHVH reiterates the kinds of sacrificial offerings to be made in the Promised Land.   After YHVH warns that blasphemers are to be cut off, there’s a man who carries sticks on the Sabbath; YHVH instructs Moses to have the man stoned to death.  YHVH also instructs Moses to tell the people to make fringes (tzitzit in Hebrew) on the corner of their garments, including a blue thread, as a reminder of the Commandments.  Once again YHVH reminds  the people, “I am YHVH your Elohim who brought you out of Egypt to be for you as your Elohim, I am YHVH your Elohim.”