Our special guest this week is Rabbi Michael Melchior, the Chief Rabbi of Norway and a former Israeli Minister and Knesset member. A descendant of seven generations of Rabbis in Denmark, Melchior was ordained as an orthodox Rabbi by Yeshivat Hakotel in 1980 and returned to Scandinavia soon after to become Norway's chief Rabbi, a position he has filled for over 30 years. In addition to his Rabbinical duties and political activities, Rabbi Melchior has been involved with many Israeli organizations and initiatives concerning interfaith dialogue, education, inter-Jewish relations, the environment, economics and Arab-Israeli peace.
This week's Torah Portion- Parashat Shelach Lecha (Numbers 13:1- 15:41)- features the famous story of the twelve spies sent to examine the land of Canaan. The spies return to the desert after 40 days and, while they report about a rich and bountiful land (bringing a cluster of Grapes as evidence), ten of the spies claim that the land is full of giants and warriors and that it cannot be conquered. The people of Israel then cry and grumble against Moses and Aaron, asking to go back to Egypt. God responds by declaring that the people of Israel will spend 40 years in the wilderness. The 10 spies who discouraged the people with their report die of plague and after a group of Israelites try to move toward Canaan they are dealt a shattering blow by the Amalekites. The parasha ends with a set of commandments concerning offerings to God and the story of a man who is stoned for picking up sticks on Shabbat.