Shabbat Shelah Leha

Candles Friday 13th 8:08pm
Havdalah 14th 9:03pm

What is a spy? Surely we mean by this a person who is acting undercover, usually deception is involved and often extra judicial slaying, James Bond! At the moment in the USA we are concerned at Governments spying on their citizens. Yet the very fact that there is talk about reaching a compromise with Edward Snowden suggests they are not altogether happy about what has been going on in their name and perhaps they have been breaking their own rules. But is all information gathering spying? I don’t think so.

In this week’s reading God says to Moses that he should send men to reconnoiter ( laToor) the Land of Canaan in preparation for invasion. They were not technically spies. They were told to “tour” the land and gather information, bring back a report. From their own account they were quiet open and interacted openly with the local inhabitants and reported conversations.

But later on in the last book of the Torah when Moses recounts these events years later, he uses different words. He says that the Children of Israel asked him to send men to “undermine” the land (Lahpor). That clearly implied undercover action aimed at bringing the Canaanites down. And of course we know it ended badly. You see intent makes a huge difference.