There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion 37 Shelach, aliyah by aliyah.
Aliyah 1: Numbers 13:1-20
Numbers 13:2 “Send men on your behalf to reconnoiter the land of Kena‘an, which I am giving to the people of Isra’el. From each ancestral tribe send someone who is a leader in his tribe.”
It seems HaShem instructed Moses to have the spies go into the Land. Was this a test? If so, for who, the leaders, the people?
Numbers 13:3 Moshe dispatched them from the Pa’ran Desert as HaShem had ordered; all of them were leading men among the people of Isra’el.
Where these men some of the 70 elders that dined at the foot of the mountain before Moses received the first set of the tablets of the 10 commandments? Where they from the leaders of 1000s, 100s, 50s and 10s?
4 Here are their names: from the tribe of Re’uven, Shamua the son of Zakur;
5 from the tribe of Shim‘on, Shafat the son of Hori;
6 from the tribe of Y’hudah, Kalev the son of Y’funeh;
7 from the tribe of Yissakhar, Yig’al the son of Yosef;
8 from the tribe of Efrayim, Hoshea the son of Nun;
9 from the tribe of Binyamin, Palti the son of Rafu;
10 from the tribe of Z’vulun, Gadi’el the son of Sodi;
11 from the tribe of Yosef, that is, from the tribe of M’nasheh, Gadi the son of Susi;
12 from the tribe of Dan, ‘Ammi’el the son of G’malli;
13 from the tribe of Asher, S’tur the son of Mikha’el;
14 from the tribe of Naftali, Nachbi the son of Vofsi; and
15 from the tribe of Gad, Ge’u’el the son of Makhi.
None of these men are the Tribal Princes who brought the wagons and offerings on the first official operating day of the Tabernacle. I find that odd.
Numbers 13:16 These are the names of the men Moshe sent out to reconnoiter the land. Moshe gave to Hoshea the son of Nun the name Y’hoshua.
Why does Moses change Hoshea’s name? Why at this time? What is this detail doing here?
Numbers 13:17 Moshe sent them to reconnoiter the land of Kena‘an, instructing them, “Go on up to the Negev and into the hills,
Do the instruction Moses gives to the 12 Spies come from himself or from HaShem?
Numbers 13:18 and see what the land is like. Notice the people living there, whether they are strong or weak, few or many;
I wonder if this is almost like the census that was just done on Israel. Does HaShem want Israel to see how few there are of them compared to the people in the Land so that when they have victory, they will know it is not by their own strength?
Numbers 13:19 nd what kind of country they live in, whether it is good or bad; and what kind of cities they live in, open or fortified.
Why does any of this matter, if this is the Promised Land? Where else could they turn to?
Numbers 13:20 See whether the land is fertile or unproductive and whether there is wood in it or not. Finally, be bold enough to bring back some of the fruit of the land.”
When they left it was the season for the first grapes to ripen.
Why do they need to be bold to take some fruit from the Land of Israel?
Aliyah 2: Numbers 13:21-14:7
Numbers 13:32 and they spread a negative report about the land they had reconnoitered for the people of Isra’el by saying, “The land we passed through in order to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. All the people we saw there were giant!
Is this a lie or is it the result of adopting an uncharitable view towards others? How was the land devouring people and yet sustaining giants. Something is not clicking here.
Aliyah 3: Numbers 14:8-25
Numbers 14:8 If HaShem is pleased with us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us — a land flowing with milk and honey.
One could argue against this statement by saying, “No. Whatever HaShem wants to come to pass, He will make come to pass.”
While I agree that His will be done, I see a nuance here. His will will be done regardless of you or I stepping up to make it happen. HaShem wants to partner with Man. He is patient and will wait for the right Man to be in the right place at the right time, with the right heart and then He will see His will done.
Aliyah 4: Numbers 14:26-15:7
Numbers 14:31 But your little ones, who you said would be taken as booty — them I will bring in. They will know the land you have rejected.
Building on the previous point, HaShem is faithful to His promises and Covenant. He promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that their descendants would inherit the Land of Israel, but there is room for interpretation. The Exodus generation would fall, but their children, the heirs of that Promise and Covenant would take possession of the land.
Aliyah 5: Numbers 15:8-16
Numbers 15:14 If a foreigner stays with you — or whoever may be with you, through all your generations — and he wants to bring an offering made by fire as a fragrant aroma for HaShem, he is to do the same as you.
This is a great basis for the argument that gentile believers coming into an understanding of the rest of the Bible and Judaism must look to the Jews and take their lead from them in study and practice.
Aliyah 6: Numbers 15:17-26
Numbers 15:21 From your first dough you will give HaShem a portion as a gift through all your generations.
This is not a burdensome Law or instruction. It is a beautiful reminder of who HaShem is and how desperately we rely on Him. In the ancient world, bread had to be made almost daily. Imagine setting aside something for HaShem everyday. What would that do for you? How would that affect you?
Aliyah 7: Numbers 15:27-41
Numbers 15:39 It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of HaShem’s mitzvot and obey them, so that you won’t go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves
Does this imply that the proper use of tzitzit will give a Jew a “different heart and eyes” that will lead them to stay faithful to HaShem? If so, doesn’t that remind you of Romans 8 which speaks of the Spirit empowering people to follow Torah? Are the tzitzit a shadow of the Holy Spirit that would become manifest after Messiah’s death and resurrection?
Before I go, I want to answer questions raised at the beginning of this session. These are my opinions, based on my time studying under various teachers and while I try to set aside any commentaries while examining each aliyah, I will allow myself to bring some back in for this section. I will disclose where I am getting these ideas where relevant.
- Why does HaShem have Moses Send Spies?
- Why does Moses change Hosea’s name?
- Why does taking fruit require boldness?
That concludes my journey through Shelach for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.
5 REASONS CHRISTIANS SHOULD KEEP TORAH by David Wilber https://davidwilber.com/articles/five-reasons-christians-should-keep-torah