Weekly Torah Portion: Shelach (Numbers 13:1-15:41)


Moses sends 12 spies to explore the Land of Israel. Ten of them convince the people that it will be too difficult to conquer the land. God responds to their lack of confidence by punishing them with 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. God commands the Israelites to put fringes on the ends of their clothing. Read an extensive summary on My Jewish Learning

Related D’var Torah

“We had of course been instructed with dummy grenades before on the basics of how to hold a grenade, pull the pin and throw it, but each of us had to qualify individually, with live grenades.” – Dave Parkhurst in 2017. Read the full drash

“In our world today we face enormous tasks, just as our ancestors did. As we pursue social. equality and peace, we find that there are still giants of many sorts who wish to frighten us away from the promised lands we strive to enter.” – Reuben Zellman in 2003. Read the full drash

Torah Verse of the Week*

“They [Joshua and Caleb] said to the entire community of the Children of Israel, saying: the land that we crossed through, to scout it out–good is that land, exceedingly, exceedingly!” (Numbers 14:8, Parashat Shelach-lecha)

Other Suggested Readings

“While listening to the Muslim and Jewish NewGround fellows, I couldn’t help but think what the history of our religions might have been, or anyway what Judaism might have become, if the story told in Parashat Shelach Lecha had gone a different way.” – Rabbi Lisa Edward’ column in the Jewish Journal

“It’s never too late to take a lesson from the moral courage of Caleb and Joshua, who spoke out when all around them felt fearful and faint of heart.” – Rabbi Lisa Edwards’ 2016 essay in the Jewish Journal

“What is the difference,” asks Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “between a bookkeeper in New York’s garment district and a U.S. Supreme Court Justice?” The answer: “One generation.” Read Rabbi Lisa’s Ten Minutes of Torah on this portion

Caleb, in contrast, is strong and independent, letting no one else define him. What we as LGBTQ Jewish people can learn from him? – Read the article on Keshet’s Torah Queeries


*Torah Verse of the Week is chosen by the Torah class during Tuesdays’ studies with Rabbi Lisa Edwards. Check out when our next Torah Study takes place

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