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July 15, 2018 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Devarim

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses reviews the post-Exodus history of the Israelites, focusing on stuff that went wrong. In particular, he discusses the “sin of the spies” (Deut. 1:23-39). In particular, Moses focuses on one question that the discussion in Numbers is a bit ambiguous about: why are the people so eager to believe the spies’ negative talk?

According to Moses, the Israelites said “It is because the Lord hates us that He brought us out of the land of Egypt to hand us over to the Amorites to destroy us.” (Deut. 1:27). And why did they believe God hates them?

Drazin and Wagner dig up the commentary of Sforno on this point; he explains that the Israelites “mistakenly believed that God hated them for their worship of Egyptian gods and was using the Amorites as an instrument of His revenge.”

This interpretation illustrates the crippling effects of too much guilt: if we believe that we are sufficiently unworthy, we may in turn come to believe that others hate us, which in turn leads to other mistakes. (On the other hand, a narrower interpretation would be that the Israelites’ view was only a mistake because God had told them to enter the Land, and that otherwise their fears would have been perfectly reasonable).

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