In Lech Lecha we have one person, Abram (later called by Gd Abraham) who is told by Gd that he is to go live in a certain place which Gd will show him. That ends up a very straight forward story, since Abraham consistently does whatever Gd says.Numbers Chapter 13
But a few generations later, Abraham's descendants aren't as obedient.
- Although the Land is beautiful and fertile, they are distracted by the residents.
- Although Gd had just rescued them from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt and rescued them from Pharaoh's army, they feared confrontation with those in the Land Gd was sending them to.
I've been living here in Israel longer than forty years. We're soon to celebrate forty-eight 48 years since our aliyah. One of the best things, OK the best thing, we ever did was to make aliyah right after our wedding. Many of our friends talked about it, and some also came soon after getting married or finishing university or even just came without any degree or spouse. But there were many friends who took their parents' advice to "first..." and are still in America. In some cases their children and grandchildren are here in Israel, but others have found themselves still enslaved.
The crucial words in Gd's instructions are:
וְיָתֻ֨רוּ֙ אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֥י נֹתֵ֖ן לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל, who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of IsraelGd commanded that each tribal leader choose an area in which to settle his people. I translate and explain וְיָתֻ֨רוּ֙ as to "stakeout" choose where you want to settle and claim it. Today, we'd call this a "pilot trip." Most Jews from the western world schedule and budget in a pre-aliyah trip to Israel to choose where they will live. That's what Gd commands the tribal leaders to do in Parshat Shlach.
They weren't commanded at all to discuss the merits of living in the Land, the pros and cons. They were shown a large present and told to divide it up among themselves.
Why, davka, do I like this Torah Portion so much? It's because it's so relevant to modern day. Living in the Holy Land is as much a Mitzvah/Commandment today as it was then. Considering that the Israel of today is one of the most advance/modern in the world, the old rationales/excuses for not living here aren't relevant. And considering that Israel is a vibrant and ever-changing democracy, whatever complaints you have can be worked on when here.
The worst thing would be to act like the ten tribal leaders who sinned and refuse to come, rationalizing like they did. That's why this Torah Portion is known as "The Sin of the Spies."