In Song: Shlach Lecha
Each week The Arty Semite connects the Torah reading — however tenuously — with a classic work of rock and roll.
In this week’s parsha, Shelach Lecha, Moses sends out 12 men — a prince from each tribe — to scout the Promised Land. They return with proof of its bounty, but 10 of them despair of being able to conquer it. The people are disillusioned and demand to return to Egypt. God’s response is to kill the 10 scouts and delay the people’s entry to the land by 40 years, during which all the adults who left Egypt will die.
God immediately consoles the people by giving a set of commandments that will only be performed once they enter the land. Then there is the incident of the man who chopped wood on Shabbat and is punished with death by stoning. The parsha concludes with the third section of the Shema prayer, where we are told to wear fringes on our clothes to remind us of God and to behave as He commanded us. This week’s song goes with Israel’s punishment to wander the desert for 40 years — to “Take the Long Way Home.”