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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach D'varim

Parashat Devarim

Sin of the Spies

3151
Dedicated to the memory of
Yaakov Ben Behora
Click to dedicate this lesson
Early in his farewell address, Moses reprimands the Children of Israel for their response to the spies’ report. At first glance, it seems that Moses’ reprimand is entirely misdirected. The adult generation that had left Egypt had already died in the desert; Moses was speaking to their children who were not culpable in the matter of the spies.

Devarim is always read the Shabbat before Tisha b’Av, which commemorates the destruction of both Temples. Our Sages tell us that any generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt must see itself as the generation in which the Temple had been destroyed. The reason is simple: if our generation has not merited rebuilding the Temple, it is because we are guilty of the same sins which caused the destruction. (This is especially true of sin’at chinam, needless hatred, which was the cause of the destruction of the Second Temple.)

Facing the generation that was to enter the Land, the generation which had not been involved in the sin of the spies, and addressing it as if it were the guilty generation, Moses means to issue a warning not to repeat the sin of the previous generation. In essence, Moses is saying: if your generation fails to appreciate the Land of Israel and the unique divine providence which the Land enjoys, then you indeed will be as guilty as your fathers’ generation.

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