Parashat Shelakh / פרשת שלח־לך

Crop of The Gathering of the Manna by James Joseph Jacques Tissot


Parashat Shelakh is the 37th weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the fourth reading of Bamidbar (“Numbers”). Shelakh (שְׁלַח) is the sixth Hebrew word of the parashah, which means Send, part of HaShem’s instruction to Moshe (Moses) to send men to explore the land of Kena’an (Canaan), which HaShem has promised to the offspring of Avraham (Abraham), Yitzkhak (Isaac), and Ya’akov (Jacob)—Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Israel).

While the land is everything HaShem has promised, the fearful report of the majority of the spies has a disastrous effect on the faith of Bnei Yisrael, which results in severe consequences for the people. While HaShem is again moved to pardon the congregation in spite of otherwise being ready to judge and disinherit the people for their persistent grumbling and rebellious unbelief, grave consequences for the people’s faithlessness nevertheless remain. Realizing their error, the people mourn the news of HaShem’s decree, yet rebelling further and bringing upon themselves worse judgements still.

Parashat Shelakh continues with HaShem’s instructions through Moshe to the native born of Yisrael and to strangers sojourning among them pertaining to the grain offerings mixed with oil and drink offerings that are to accompany the various animal offerings in the Promised Land. HaShem further instructs the people to bring a contribution from the first of their grain throughout their generations.

Next, the parashah records HaShem’s instructions regarding the offerings that are to be presented in the case of unintentional corporate and individual sin—in failing to obey all of Moshe’s words—whether by the native born or stranger sojourning among us. Conversely, dire consequences are decreed for those who sin intentionally, as recorded by the parashah.

Parashat Shelakh concludes with the account of the man who was found gathering sticks on the Shabbat (Sabbath), in direct and flagrant violation of HaShem’s already established instructions, and HaShem’s judgement against him. Following this is HaShem’s instruction to the people of Yisrael through Moshe to wear tzitzit (fringes) on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, that we may see them and remember and perform all of HaShem’s instructions rather than following our own hearts and eyes after which we are prone to stray.

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Torah Portion: Numbers 13:1 – 15:41

1st Aliyah: Numbers 13:1-20 (20 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Numbers 13:21-14:7 (20 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Numbers 14:8-25 (18 verses)
4th Aliyah: Numbers 14:26-15:7 (27 verses)
5th Aliyah: Numbers 15:8-16 (9 verses)
6th Aliyah: Numbers 15:17-26 (10 verses)
7th Aliyah: Numbers 15:27-41 (15 verses)
Maftir: Numbers 15:37-41 (5 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
Joshua 2:1 – 2:24

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Artwork: Crop of “The Grapes of Canaan” by James Joseph Jacques Tissot

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