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You spoke slanderously in your tents. You said, "G-d took us out of the land of Egypt because He hates us! [He wishes] to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites and destroy us!

--Devarim 1:27

Classic Questions:

What was Moshe's response to the claim that G-d "hated" the Jewish people? (v. 27)

Rashi: He loved you, but you hated Him, as in the common saying: What is in your heart about your beloved is in his heart about you.

Be'er Mayim Chayim: In other words, since the Jewish people hated G-d, they imagined that G-d hated them too.

Nachalas Ya'akov: Thus, the "common saying" ("What is in your heart, etc.") is not in fact applicable to G-d, for He loved the Jewish people, even though they hated Him.

Devek Tov: Rashi was troubled by the question: What made the Jewish people think that G-d hated them?

The Rebbe's Teachings

Why did the Jewish people speak slanderously in their tents and not in public? (v. 27)

Ramban: When Yehoshua and Calev persisted in urging the people to go to war, the other spies met with the Jewish people in their tents to speak slanderously about the Land.

These meetings were held secretly in the tents in order to hide what was happening from Moshe.

The Jewish People's Slander (v. 27)

In verse 27, Moshe rebukes the Jewish people for saying, "G-d took us out of the land of Egypt because He hates us!" Rashi's explanation prompts the following questions:

  1. What was troubling Rashi? Devek Tov argues that Rashi was troubled about why the Jewish people would think that G-d hated them. However, this is difficult to accept, since the Torah explains the Jewish people's logic: "G-d took us out of the land of Egypt because He hates us, to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites and destroy us!"

    Since the Torah itself explains why the Jewish people thought that G-d hated them, why did Rashi need to explain anything?

  2. Be'er Mayim Chayim and Nachalas Ya'akov explain that the Jewish people hated G-d, so they imagined that G-d hated them too. Thus, Rashi's common saying ("What is in your heart about your beloved is in his heart about you") is not meant literally here, because G-d did not hate the Jewish people as a result of the fact that they hated Him.

    However, if this is the case, why did Rashi not stress that his analogy was imaginary and not real? Surely Rashi should have written, "What is in your heart about your beloved, you think is in his heart about you"?

The Explanation

In Parshas Shelach, the Torah states explicitly that the spies spoke slanderously about the Land in public (see Bamidbar 13:32ff.). So on reaching our verse, Rashi was troubled about why the Torah states, "You spoke slanderously in your tents." Rashi concludes that there must have been two types of slander spoken here. First, the spies disparaged the Land in public, and clearly the statements made in public had to be based on reality. In private, however, the people were prone to speak a type of slander which was totally untrue (cf. Ramban).

Thus, the slander which was spoken by the Jewish people in their tents was clearly not that which is expressed at the end of verse 27 (that G-d would "deliver us into the hands of the Amorites and destroy us!"), for this is an argument which did appear to have some basis to it, considering the formidable enemy that lay ahead.

Rather, the slander which they spoke in the tents was clearly limited to just the first half of the verse, "G-d took us out of the land of Egypt because He hates us!"—a slanderous claim which had no substance to it at all (as Rashi stresses at the beginning of his comment, that in truth "He loved you"). Nobody could make this claim in public, as it would be quickly refuted.

I.e., Rashi's innovation here is that the two statements in verse 27 refer to two different types of slander said on different occasions, in different locations.

In order to stress further the content of Moshe's rebuke here, Rashi cites the saying, "What is in your heart about your beloved is in his heart about you." Moshe was stressing that not only did the Jewish people's private slander have no basis, it was in fact the very opposite of the truth.

If they recognized the fact that they hated G-d, they would have no reason to complain about how He treated them. Instead, they claimed that they genuinely loved G-d but they felt that G-d hated them, despite their love for Him. In truth, however, the reverse was true: G-d loved the Jewish people, but they hated Him.

So Moshe said, "What is in your heart about your beloved is in his heart about you," i.e., the very same complaint that you have about Him, He has about you. You claim that you love Him despite His hatred for you, but in truth, He loves you despite your hatred for Him!

(Based on Likutei Sichos vol. 34, p. 17ff.)

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of righteous memory; adapted by Chaim Miller.
An excerpt from the Gutnick Chumash published by Kol Menachem, New York.

The Chumash incorporates a flowing English translation of the Torah which is loyal to the commentary of Rashi and includes 'Classic questions' that are drawn from a range of commentators and are then ingeniously brought together by the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Click here to purchase the Chumash.
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