This week’s parsha is Sh’lach, translated from Hebrew as “send” and covering Numbers 13:1- 15:41.
In Sh’lach we hear about the twelve scouts sent to the lands of Canaan and Hebron, who returned with tales of the land being filled with figs, grapes, milk and honey and …. giants! Needless to say, reports of giants caused a major freak-out for the Israelites, so much so that Caleb and Joshua had to scramble to comfort and convince the multitudes not to fear or rebel.
Now panic is never good, but in this case the Israelites had reasons to go nuts, as G-d informed them that except for Caleb and Joshua, all men over the age of 20 were destined to die in the wilderness and that only after wandering for 40 years (the same number of days the scouts scouted) would their children be able to enter the Promised Land.
Despite the unpleasantness of this news and their impending travels, the community was told that manners still mattered and were instructed not to arrive at the promised land empty-handed, but instead with a gift of flour mixed with oil and wine.
Sh’lach also contains the story of a man that violated Shabbat by gathering wood who was taken into custody by the community and put to death by the “pelting of stones” outside of the camp. To combat forgetfulness, the Israelites were given a simple tool to use a visual reminder to obey: fringes ( tzitzit) tied to the corners of their garments.
But wait, that would be too easy. These tzitzit were not just plain threads- they were to be blue and tied in a very specific fashion. And not any blue dye would do, no, the dye was to come from the blood of a Chilazon, a semi-aquatic creature that produces the dye for “Techeilet”, and thought by some scholars to either be a squid, fish, or a murex snail.
Candle lighting for Shabbat on South Whidbey is at 8:52 with havdalah at 10:00.
Translation, via JTS: http://learn.jtsa.edu/content/translations/shelah-lekha/torah-portion/shelah-lekha
Sources of commentary:
Animated short by G-dcast: http://www.g-dcast.com/shelach-lecha
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