Below is a collection of Parashat Shelah resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: Did you ever have to move to a new place? Were you excited about the new possibilities or afraid of the challenges and everything which may go wrong? Parashat Shelah describes the journey of the meraglim (spies) who go to check out Israel. Although they begin their report with a good thing, most of their report is about all the dangers and frightening things and when the people hear this, they cry all night and don’t want to go.
Look inside the text (Bemidbar 14: 1-3):
וַתִּשָּׂא כָּל הָעֵדָה וַיִּתְּנוּ אֶת קוֹלָם וַיִּבְכּוּ הָעָם בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא:
וַיִּלֹּנוּ עַל משֶׁה וְעַל אַהֲרֹן כֹּל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם כָּל הָעֵדָה לוּ מַתְנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם אוֹ בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה לוּ מָתְנוּ:
וְלָמָה ה’ מֵבִיא אֹתָנוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת לִנְפֹּל בַּחֶרֶב נָשֵׁינוּ וְטַפֵּנוּ יִהְיוּ לָבַז הֲלוֹא טוֹב לָנוּ שׁוּב מִצְרָיְמָה
The whole community broke into loud cries, and the people wept that night. All the Israelites railed against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in the land of Egypt,” the whole community shouted at them, “or if only we might die in this wilderness!” “Why is God taking us to that land to fall by the sword?” “Our wives and children will be carried off!” “It would be better for us to go back to Egypt!”
Question #2: At the end of Parashat Shelah, we read about the mitzvah of tzitzit (fringes) which is also recited every day as the final paragraph of Shema prayer. Our sages explain that one purpose of tzitzit is to remind one to do the mitzvot. A special blue string, called techelet, was attached to the tzitzit. This color is the color of the sea, and the sea is a reflection of the blue in the sky. This serves as a reminder of the throne of glory of God in heaven. If there is something important you need to remember, do you write it down, or do you have some other special reminder? How can an article of clothing affect your behavior?
Question #3: The scouts report what they saw along with their interpretation of it. Should leaders always tell the truth, or are there times when it is better if the public is kept in the dark?
Question #4: All of Israel is punished for their reaction to the report of the scouts, but God metes out special punishment to the scouts who brought back a bad report. Do leaders have responsibilities and accountability greater than their followers? Should followers be held accountable for listening to their leaders?