In this week’s reading, we learn of the spies sent to look at the Land of Israel, who returned with an evil report — and the disaster that followed. The entire generation that said they could not go up into the Land created a self-fulfilling prophecy: G-d repays measure for measure, and that generation died during the 40 years that our Nation spent in the desert.
The spies returned with evidence of the fantastic bounty provided in the Land that our Nation was destined to inherit. So what was their evil report? They informed the Nation that the inhabitants were giants. They ignored G-d’s promise that, like David versus Goliath, Israel would be successful. G-d even ensured that the Canaanites were so busy burying victims of a sudden plague that they left their homes deserted and paid no attention to the intruding spies.
As we learned so vividly in this week’s news, it is trivial to create an evil report if you only look at half the facts. This applies to many of the “evil reports” that we here in all aspects of our lives — we hear half the story and imagine that we know the entirety. This is why Lashon Hara (gossip) is indeed profoundly evil — it creates a distorted picture. People who tell us Lashon Hara are “friends” in the same way that mercenaries with knives are “peace activists,” and we must avoid them both!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org