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    No I-cons – Sh’lach L’cha

    The return of the spies, by Gustave Doré

    Sh’lach-l’cha anashim (Num. 13:2) – “Send for yourself men”.

    Rashi says in the name of God, “Use your judgment. I am not ordering you, but if you so decide, you send men…” (see the discussion in Sotah 34b).

    The Ma’ad’nei Melech adds, “Make sure you don’t send ‘I’-men, egotists who think only of their own interests. Send men who will work for the community, not for themselves.”

    The biggest confidence trick is when a candidate assures the public he has their welfare in mind while all the time his ulterior motive is to line his own pocket, live the high life and relish the possession of power.

    Let us ask to whom “send for yourself” is addressed. Since “for yourself” is singular it cannot refer to the people as a whole, but to their leader, Moses.

    A Midrash on Parashat T’tzavveh (Ex. 27:20) says Moses was upset when God said, “Command the Children of Israel to bring pure olive oil to set up the lamp”. Moses saw that every section of the people had a task, but what about him?

    Every group brought offerings: he seemed to have nothing to bring. God then promised that his contribution would be greater than theirs. They brought specific items; he would bring the sense of purpose.

    In the light of today’s reading we might add that his task was to make decisions that would change the whole of Israel’s destiny.

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