Moses sends twelve spies (one from each tribe) to the Land of Canaan (the former name of the Land of Israel) to see what the land and its people are like. The spies tour the whole land and when they come back after forty days they tell the people that it is indeed a land "flowing with milk and honey." But, they add, the people in it are very strong and the cities have huge walls like fortresses, and "we even saw giants." And they tell the Jews that the land would be much too difficult to conquer. Even though two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, disagree with the rest, saying that the land is very good and they can surely conquer it, the Jews believe those with the bad report, and they cry out to Moses that they don't want to go.

G‑d is furiously angry and wants to kill all the Jews, but Moses begs him not to, reminding Him that He is a G‑d of mercy. So G‑d agrees to spare the Jews but says that, because they complained, except for Joshua and Caleb, none of these people will go into the land; they will all die in the desert. Then he tells Moses to turn around from the direction they were going, and head towards the desert.

When Moses tells the people that they would have to stay in the desert for forty years instead of going into the Land of Israel, they realize what a horrible mistake they had made and are very sad. Some of the people say, "Okay, we realize that we sinned, and we are ready to go into the land!" and they go up the mountain, getting ready to enter the land. But Moses tells them that it is too late and that they should not go, because G‑d is not with them and they will not succeed. They go anyway, and suffer a terrible defeat by the Canaanites and the Amalekites.

We learn about the mitzvah of Challah—when we bake bread, a portion of it must go to G‑d. Today, when we don't have a Sanctuary, we make sure to burn a piece of the dough before baking the bread.

A man gathers wood on the Sabbath, desecrating it, and he is put to death.

We learn about the mitzvah of tiztzit, fringes worn on the corners of a four-cornered garment. When we see the fringes, we remember who we are and the the mitzvot that G‑d has commanded us.