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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Shlach Lecha

Parashat Shlach Lecha

Giants and Grasshoppers

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"And then we saw the Nefilim, the sons of Anak who come of the Nefilim: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so were we in their sight" (Bamidbar 13:33).

The scouts sent by Moshe to tour the Promised Land returned with a terrifying report. The inhabitants of the land are formidably huge - giants - similar in proportion to the fruits of the land. "There is but one conclusion," they said. "One must be a giant in order to live in the Holy Land. There is no place for us, little grasshoppers, in a land that demands stature and nobility. Better that we live a quiet, secure life as grasshoppers in the wilderness than to aspire to great moral and spiritual heights."

Interestingly, Targum Onkelos translates chagavim, "grasshoppers," as kamtzin. The Talmud (Gittin 55a) attributes the destruction of the Second Temple to petty, little people who looked upon others with disdain and contempt. Such is the tragic story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza.

To be a giant or to be a grasshopper? That is the question!

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