GrowTorah Core Value: Stewarding the Earth, Incubating Emunah

As Moshe starts his speech to Bnei Israel before they enter Eretz Israel, he recounts their travels through the desert, including the meraglim, wars with Sihon and Og, and the tribes of Reuven, Gad and Menashe settling on the other side of the Jordan. What can his discussion teach us about Eretz Israel? How can the values apply to us, in our homes and our gardens?

Lesson Title: Embracing Variety

וַיִּקְח֤וּ בְיָדָם֙ מִפְּרִ֣י הָאָ֔רֶץ וַיּוֹרִ֖דוּ אֵלֵ֑ינוּ וַיָּשִׁ֨בוּ אֹתָ֤נוּ דָבָר֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ טוֹבָ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽנוּ׃

They took some of the fruit of the land with them and brought it down to us. And they gave us this report: “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving to us.”
(כז) וַיְסַפְּרוּ־לוֹ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ בָּ֕אנוּ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֣ר שְׁלַחְתָּ֑נוּ וְ֠גַ֠ם זָבַ֨ת חָלָ֥ב וּדְבַ֛שׁ הִ֖וא וְזֶה־פִּרְיָֽהּ׃ (כח) אֶ֚פֶס כִּֽי־עַ֣ז הָעָ֔ם הַיֹּשֵׁ֖ב בָּאָ֑רֶץ וְהֶֽעָרִ֗ים בְּצֻר֤וֹת גְּדֹלֹת֙ מְאֹ֔ד וְגַם־יְלִדֵ֥י הָֽעֲנָ֖ק רָאִ֥ינוּ שָֽׁם׃ (כט) עֲמָלֵ֥ק יוֹשֵׁ֖ב בְּאֶ֣רֶץ הַנֶּ֑גֶב וְ֠הַֽחִתִּ֠י וְהַיְבוּסִ֤י וְהָֽאֱמֹרִי֙ יוֹשֵׁ֣ב בָּהָ֔ר וְהַֽכְּנַעֲנִי֙ יוֹשֵׁ֣ב עַל־הַיָּ֔ם וְעַ֖ל יַ֥ד הַיַּרְדֵּֽן׃
(27) This is what they told him: “We came to the land you sent us to; it does indeed flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. (28) However, the people who inhabit the country are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the Anakites there. (29) Amalekites dwell in the Negeb region; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites inhabit the hill country; and Canaanites dwell by the Sea and along the Jordan.”


How does Moshe's version of the meraglim's report differ from the version in Bamidbar?

  • He recounts only the good things the spies said about the land and puts the negative onto the people

What values can we learn from these reports?

  • acknowledgement and gratitude for the beauty of the land, communal responsibility

פְּנ֣וּ ׀ וּסְע֣וּ לָכֶ֗ם וּבֹ֨אוּ הַ֥ר הָֽאֱמֹרִי֮ וְאֶל־כׇּל־שְׁכֵנָיו֒ בָּעֲרָבָ֥ה בָהָ֛ר וּבַשְּׁפֵלָ֥ה וּבַנֶּ֖גֶב וּבְח֣וֹף הַיָּ֑ם אֶ֤רֶץ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִי֙ וְהַלְּבָנ֔וֹן עַד־הַנָּהָ֥ר הַגָּדֹ֖ל נְהַר־פְּרָֽת׃

Start out and make your way to the hill country of the Amorites and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Shephelah, the Negeb, the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and the Lebanon, as far as the Great River, the river Euphrates.
בערבה. זֶה מִישׁוֹר שֶׁל יַעַר:
בערבה IN THE PLAIN — this is the plain of the forest.
בהר. זֶה הַר הַמֶּלֶךְ:
בהר IN THE MOUNTAIN — this is the King’s mountain.
ובשפלה. זוֹ שְׁפֵלַת דָּרוֹם:
ובשפלה AND IN THE LOW LAND — this is the low land of the south country.
עד הנהר הגדל. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּזְכָּר עִם אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל קוֹרְאוֹ גָּדוֹל, מְשַׁל הֶדְיוֹט אוֹמֵר "עֶבֶד מֶלֶךְ מֶלֶךְ", "הִדַּבֵּק לַשַּׁחֲוָר וְיִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לְךָ", ״קְרַב לְגַבֵּי דְהִינָא וְאִדַּהֵן" (שבועות מ"ז):
עד הנהר הגדל TO THE GREAT RIVER [THE RIVER EUPHRATES] — Because it is mentioned in connection with the Land of Israel, it terms it "great". A popular proverb says: A king’s servant is a king, attach yourself to a captain and people will bow down to you; go near to an anointed (a distinguished) person and you become anointed (distinguished) yourself (cf. Rashi on Shevuot 47b and Genesis 15:18).

עד הנהר הגדול נהר פרת. שמימיו פרין והולכין. אמרו כל הנהרות אומרין לפרת מפני מה אין קולך נשמע כדרך שקולן של כל הנהרות נשמעין אמר להן מעשי מוכיחין עלי אדם זורע בי זריעה עולה לג' ימים, נוטע בי נטיעה עולה לשלשים יום מעשי מוכיחין עלי וכן התורה משבחת לי עד הנהר הגדול נהר פרת:

Until the great river, the Euphrates – whose waters increase continuously. All of the rivers said to the Euphrates, "Why does your voice not sound the way that all the rivers' voices sound?" The Euphrates answered them, "My actions prove [my worth]. A man can sow seeds in me and it will grow after three days, plant plants in me and they will grow after thirty days. My actions prove this, and thus the Torah praises me by saying, "Until the great river, the River Euphrates."


What does this verse and related commentaries teach about Eretz Israel?

  • They mention and name each detail of the landscape; this recognizes the uniqueness of each aspect and shows their value separately, but also shows the value in the unified whole
ואין לך כל שבט ושבט מישראל שאין לו בהר ובשפלה ובנגב ובעמק שנאמר (דברים א, ז) פנו וסעו לכם ובאו הר האמורי ואל כל שכניו בערבה בהר בשפלה ובנגב ובחוף הים וגו' וכן אתה מוצא בכנענים ובפריזים ובאמוריים שלפניהם שנאמר ואל כל שכניו אלמא שכניו הכי הוו:
The baraita adds: And you do not have a single tribe of Israel that did not have in its portion at least some land in the mountains, and some in the lowland, and some in the countryside, and some in the valley, as it is stated: “Turn and take your journey, and go to the hill-country of the Amorites and to all their neighbors, in the Arabah, in the hill-country, and in the lowland, and in the countryside, and by the seashore” (Deuteronomy 1:7). And you find similarly with regard to the Canaanites and Perizzites and Amorites who inhabited the land before the Jews, as it stated in the above verse: “The Amorites and to all their neighbors.” Apparently, the Amorites and their neighbors all had this variety of types of land in their respective territories.


How does this sugya add to our understanding of Eretz Israel?

  • It highlights the variety of the landscape, and the importance of each tribe interacting with and connecting to each aspect of the landscape: hills and lowlands and valley and coast

What can we do to connect with and preserve varied landscapes?


וַיֵּצֵ֨א הָאֱמֹרִ֜י הַיֹּשֵׁ֨ב בָּהָ֤ר הַהוּא֙ לִקְרַאתְכֶ֔ם וַיִּרְדְּפ֣וּ אֶתְכֶ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשֶׂ֖ינָה הַדְּבֹרִ֑ים וַֽיַּכְּת֥וּ אֶתְכֶ֛ם בְּשֵׂעִ֖יר עַד־חׇרְמָֽה׃

Then the Amorites who lived in those hills came out against you like so many bees and chased you, and they crushed you at Hormah in Seir.