Torah Portion: Shelach Numbers 13:1 – 15:41 Chumash pages 798 – 819
Maftir: Joshua 2: 1-24 Chumash pages 1184-1185
Moses is pressed by the Jewish people to send twelve spies to the Land of Canaan (later to be called the Land of Israel). Forty days later they return carrying a gigantic cluster of grapes and two other large fruits. Ten of the spies warn that the inhabitants of the land are enormous in size and that the land ‘consumes its inhabitants’. They convince the people that the land can’t be conquered. Caleb and Joshua retain their faith in G-d, insisting that the Jewish people can, indeed, conquer the land.
The people weep and proclaim that they’d rather return to Egypt. This tenth expression of a profound lack of faith in G-d prompts a Divine decree that entry into the Land should be delayed forty years. This decree was made on the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av — known as Tisha B’Av. Numerous other tragedies occurred on Tisha B’Av, including the destruction of the first and second Temples and the expulsion of Spanish Jewry in 1492.