The Sabbath and the Sin of the Spies

The first Psalm on Erev Shabbat ערב שבת

that is said for the receiving of the Sabbath קבלת שבת

is Psalm 95.

Why is this Psalm chosen as the first Psalm

out of all the Psalms?

It is for a reason.

Psalm 95 contains a warning.

“Today if you will hear his voice,

do not harden your heart,

as in the provocation,

and as in the day of temptation

in the wilderness:

when your fathers tempted me,

proved me, and saw my work.

Forty years long

I was grieved with this generation,

and said, It is a people

who wander (err) in their heart,

and they have not known my ways:

to whom I swore in my wrath,

If you should enter into my REST.”

היום עם בקלו תשמעו:

על תקשו לבבכם כמריבה

כיום מסה במדבר:

אשר נסוני אבותיכם

בחנוני גם ראו פעלי:

ארבעים שנה אקוט בדור

ואמר עם תעי לבב הם

והם לא ידעו דרכי:

אשר נשבעתי בעפי

אם יבאון על מנוחתי:

The Scripture here makes the connection

between the Sabbath and the sin of the spies

in the wilderness. The judgment of this sin

was forty years of wandering.

However, there were two spies who entered

into the Sabbath, and who did not perish

in the wilderness.

These two spies were

Caleb כלב and Joshua יהושע.

Why did these spies enter into the Sabbath,

and the others did not?

The answer is found written

in Numbers 13:30 in the words of Caleb:

“And Caleb stilled the people

before Moses, and said,

Let us go up at once,

and possess it (the land);

for we are well able to overcome it.

ויהס כלב עת העם

אל משה ויאמר

עלה נעלה

וירשנו אתהּ

כי יכול נוכל לה:

The phrase “well able” in Hebrew

is the emphatic form and it means

we “absolutely can.” יכול נוכל .

by repeating the word two times

in different verb forms.

The root of the word “can”

is formed by the three Hebrew letters

yod [ י ], caph [ כ ], and lamed [ ל ].

This same root appears amazingly

in the first declaration of the Sabbath

in the Torah in Genesis 2:1-2.

“Thus the heavens and the earth

were finished יכלו

and all the host of them.

And on the seventh day

G-d ended ויכל his work

which he had made;

and he rested on the seventh day

from all his work

which he had made.”

ויכלו השמים יהארץ

וכל צבאם:

ויכל אלהים ביום השביעי

מלאכתו אשר עשה

וישבת ביום השביעי

מכל מלאכתו אשר עשה:

The same root is used for the words

“to complete” and “to end” which

are directly connected to the Sabbath.

Caleb and Joshua kept the Sabbath

by their words,

and entered into the

rest מנוחה of HASHEM

which he spoke about in Psalm 95

when he said

“If they shall enter into my rest.”

אם יבאון אל מנוחתי:

It appears that age did not debilitate

Caleb and Joshua.

After forty five years when all the others of

their generation had died in the wilderness,

Caleb said in Joshua 14:10-11:

“And now, behold,

the LORD has kept me alive,

as he said, these forty five years,

even since the Lord spoke his word to Moses,

while the children of Israel

wandered in the wilderness:

and now, lo, I am this day

eighty five years old.

As yet I am as strong this day

as I was in the day

that Moses sent me:

as my strength was them,

even so is my strength now,

for war, both to go out,

and to come in.”

ועתה הנה

החיה יהוה אותי

כאשר דבר זה

ארבעים וחמש שנה

מאז דבר יהוה

את הדבר הזה אל משה

אשר הלך ישראל במדבר:

ועתה הנה אנכי היום

בן חמש ושמונים שנה:

עודני חזק כאשר ביום

שלח אותי משה

ככחי אז וככחי עתה

למלחמה ולצאת ולבוא:

Caleb entered into the Sabbath rest

of HASHEM when

the words of his mouth

agreed with the words

of the mouth of HASHEM.

The other ten spies and the

children of Israel who spoke words

against the words of HASHEM

did not enter into his Sabbath

and they died in the wilderness.

Moreover Caleb was able to

perform mighty feats of valor.

He was able to defeat

powerful enemies, giants,

and pull down high walled cities,

to take possession of the land

that was given to him

for an inheritance.

Joshua 14:12.

“Now therefore give me this mountain,

whereof HASHEM spoke that day;

for you heard in that day

how the Anakims there,

and the cities were great and fenced:

if so the LORD will be with me,

then I shall be able to

drive them out,


And Joshua blessed him,

and gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh

Hebron for an inheritance.”

ועתה תנה לי את ההר הזה

אשר דבר יהוה ביום ההוא

כי אתה שמעת ביום ההוא

כי ענקים שם

וערים גדלות בצרות

אולי יהוה אותי

והורשתים כאשר דבר יהוה:

ויברכהו יהושע

ויתן את חברון

לכלב בן יפנה לנחלה:

By entering into the Sabbath rest


Caleb and Joshua were able

to be victorious,

to defeat their enemies,

and to take posssession

of their inheritance that

had been promised

to them by HASHEM.