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Calev, Miriam, and the Language of Faith

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“Calev hushed the people before Moshe and said, ‘Let us by all means go up, and we shall gain possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it,'” (Bamidbar 13,30).

The infamous sin of the spies; this week we read this tragic story, maybe the most tragic in the whole of the Torah, where the entire generation that left Egypt is decreed to die in the desert.

What was the cause of this decree? Seemingly the propaganda spread by 10 of the 12 spies about the dangers of the land and the impossibility of conquering it whipped the nation into a frenzy of fear which brought them to tears and had them begging to return to Egypt.

But was the report of the spies actually so treacherous? Or were they simply reporting what they saw, as Moshe instructed?

The report of the spies starts with good news: they say that the land does indeed flow with milk and honey. And then they showcase the large and luscious fruits they brought back. But from there it starts to go downhill.

“The people who inhabit the country are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the children of the Anakites there” (Bamidbar 13, 28).

The report continues on the same theme. In short, we are militarily outmatched, and therefore no tactic will be effective enough to defeat them.

But the spies have not lied; they have reported only what their eyes have seen, just as Moshe instructed them. So what is so disloyal about their report?

Let’s compare their report to the report of Calev. After........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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