Parshas Shelach

Rabbi Gidon Goldberg's picture

Dear Parents,
This Wednesday, the main Amudim ad booklet deadline passed. We are, however, still accepting ads for the addendum section of the yearbook. Room is still available to attend the Amudim Dinner on Sunday, June 17 at 4:30 p.m. To reserve or place last-minute ads, please go to

I would like to offer our sincere thanks to all of the parents and friends who solicited and purchased ads, as well as to Ms. Pereira, Mrs. Schachter, and Mrs. Nathanson, our Amudim ad team, for all their efforts on behalf of the school. With your efforts we were able to come close to achieving our financial goal; any last-minute support is appreciated. Please also consider emailing me your tribute sponsorships or listings for Mrs. Hall to be included in our scroll and presentation.

This Shabbos, I will be making a siyum for my father’s first yahrtzeit. Please consider this an invitation to join us for the siyum and kiddush at Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in the school.

Half full or half empty! Moshe allows the meraglim, spies, to scout out the Land of Israel, which Klal Yisroel was slated to enter. Although all the spies were great, well-intentioned people, most brought back a frightening and evil report that brought the Jews to tears. Yehoshua and Kolev, however, were on the same trip and saw only positive – and their report was the opposite. How is it possible for people all in the same place at the same time to see the same thing but draw conclusions diametrically opposing one another?

Rabbi Label Lam relates the fol-lowing story based on this week’s parshah:

What was so devastatingly bad about what the spies did? They reported things the way they saw it. Why did their discouraging report have such horrific consequences? The entire nation was made to take a forty-year detour. How did such great princes fail? Why was the whole nation implicated?

One hot summer day, a friend of mine offered me a cold drink in his apartment. I had never seen this Israeli brand before. I studied the large Hebrew letters on the can: same-ch/phe/raish/yud/nun/gimel. “What word is that?” I wondered. Then I got it! “Suffering!” “That’s an odd name for a drink!” I thought, until I turned the can around to the other side and there, written in English, was the real name: “SPRING.” The difference between an experience of suffering or spring may depend upon the perceived placement of a few small dots.

What we screen out and what we let in depends on either individual or societal idiosyncrasies. We are not likely perceiving total reality at any given moment, but rather some subjective version of truth, based upon prior notions.

A young man visiting Paris for the first time went with his native Frenchman friend to the famous museum, the Louvre. There, he glared unimpressed at masterpiece after masterpiece. The Frenchman, unnerved, asked if he liked what he had seen. The young man told him disappointedly, “All the paintings have milk on them.” The Frenchman was astounded. “Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, and the Mona Lisa all with milk on them?!” Then he looked closely at his visitor friend and realized that his glasses had milk on them. Aha!

Unfortunately, in life, human nature is such that we focus on weaknesses rather than strengths. The meraglim looked at the land but their “milk-stained glasses” obscured their view. Rather than having faith in Hashem’s ability, the spies focused on oversized fruit and giants, eventually leading to catastrophe. We must always, like Yehoshua and Kolev, ask our-selves, “Is the cup half empty or half full”?

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman