The Secret of Covert Spy Operations

By: Rabbi Tuly Weisz and Rabbi Dr. Ethan Eisen
June 27, 2024

Eli Cohen was a filing clerk in a Tel Aviv insurance office recruited by the Mossad in 1961. He was given a false identity as a Syrian businessman and moved to Damascus under the alias Kamel Amin Thaabet.  “Our Man in Damascus” quickly rose through the ranks of Syria’s political and military hierarchy and became the chief advisor to Syria’s Minister of Defense. Before his capture and execution r”l, Eli Cohen provided Israel with vital intelligence that contributed to the capture of the Golan Heights during the Six Day War.

The reading from the prophets that compliments the Bible portion that relates the story of the spies is recounted in Joshua 2:1-24. This story picks up where the Story of the spies leaves off, with the Israelites on the cusp of entering The Land of Israel. The story of Joshua is similar to how the spies are sent into the land in advance of the nation’s entry into Israel. However, where the Bible story ends in failure, the spy mission in the prophets ends triumphantly.

As one of the original spies sent by Moses, 38 years earlier, Joshua knew firsthand the limitations and dangers of such a mission. Rabbi Yehuda Shaviv explains in his book “Ben Parsha L’Haftara,” that precisely because Joshua was personally involved in the original delegation, he devised a very different expedition in order to arrive at a more successful outcome.

The portion from Joshua begins,

Rabbi Shaviv points to this verse as containing the essential difference between the two episodes and quotes the 19th century Talmudist, The Vilna Gaon who says the word khe-RESH highlights Joshua’s covert strategy and in the words of the Vilna Gaon, these spies “were sent quietly to avoid the original mistakes.”

The expedition described in The Book of Numbers was a very public spectacle; one can almost imagine the scene of departure as full of pomp and circumstance. The twelve men were all prominent “leaders of the Children of Israel” who are listed individually by name as the heads of tribes, as opposed to the two sent by Yehoshua whose names are never mentioned.

The differences continue. The twelve scouts of Moses returned from a long journey with enormous bounty to a very public reception:

Joshua’s two spies, on the other hand, are spotted immediately and their mission is quickly aborted. They enter Jericho where they are “hidden” by Rahav and “covered” before they manage to escape into the hills. The two men brief Joshua in private with an altogether startling conclusion:

How is it that after forty days of traveling the length and breadth of Israel, Moses’ scouts report they would be unable to conquer the land, but in just a few terrifying hours Joshua’s men come to the exact opposite conclusion?

Moses’ delegates are sent “latour et haaretz”, “to search out the land” rather than to serve as covert spies. In fact, the root “tour” appears a dozen times to describe the mission and so “tourist” would be a better description of Moshe’s twelve men than “spies”!  The very fact that so many prominent leaders, whose names and faces were known to all, led the tour implies that this was no secret spy mission whatsoever, but a discovery expedition. 

The successful outcome described in the book of Joshua comes about precisely on account of the secrecy and privacy insisted upon by Joshua. In addition to his personal experience as one of the original scouts, perhaps Joshua learned the importance of secrecy from the two sets of Tablets given by God. The first set was given with great fanfare, only to be destroyed. The second set, however, were given privately to Moses – and endured. The sages explain that since the first set of Tablets were given in public with thunder and sounds, the evil inclination emerged. We learn from this that there is nothing better than modesty.

Especially when it comes to as precious a gift as the tablets, or the Land of Israel, our approach must be one of secrecy, modesty and humility.

Allowing a Palestinian terror state in the heart of Israel would destroy the Jewish State.

Keep God’s Land is dedicated to strengthening and defending Israel’s right to its biblical heartland, with the ultimate goal of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. Learn More about this incredible mission today!

Rabbi Tuly Weisz

Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the founder of Israel365 and the editor of “The Israel Bible,” the first Bible dedicated to highlighting the relationship between the Land and the People of Israel. Rabbi Tuly is a columnist for Israel365news, the Jerusalem Post, Fox News and Newsmax who writes passionately about Israel, the Bible and Jewish-Christian relations. In addition to his writings, Rabbi Tuly has appeared alongside Alan Dershowitz on ILTV, on CBN’s “700 Club”, Daystar, Israel National News, TBN and numerous other television appearances. Rabbi Weisz attended Yeshiva University (BA), Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (Rabbinic Ordination) and the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law (JD) and served as the Rabbi of the Beth Jacob Congregation in Columbus, Ohio before making Aliyah to Israel. Rabbi Tuly lives with his wife and is blessed with 6 children and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.

Rabbi Tuly Weisz and Rabbi Dr. Ethan Eisen

This is a special series on the weekly Haftara, the portion from Prophets that corresponds with the weekly reading from the Bible. It was co-written by Rabbi Dr. Ethan Eisen and Rabbi Tuly Weisz.

Rabbi Dr. Ethan Eisen is a Yeshiva University-ordained rabbi with a PhD in clinical psychology from The George Washington University. Ethan trained at leading clinical and research centers in the United States, including NIH and VA medical centers. His writings on a wide variety of topics in psychology and Jewish interest have been published in top academic and Jewish journals, as well as popular Jewish publications. His book, Talmud on the Mind, explores the relationship between Talmudic principles and psychological science. He currently practices as a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in combat trauma. Rabbi Ethan lives with his wife and is blessed with 4 children. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.

Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the founder of Israel365 and the editor of “The Israel Bible,” the first Bible dedicated to highlighting the relationship between the Land and the People of Israel.
Rabbi Tuly is a columnist for Israel365news, the Jerusalem PostFox News and Newsmax who writes passionately about Israel, the Bible and Jewish-Christian relations. In addition to his writings, Rabbi Tuly has appeared alongside Alan Dershowitz on ILTV, on CBN’s “700 Club”, Daystar, Israel National News, TBN and numerous other television appearances.
Rabbi Weisz attended Yeshiva University (BA), Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (Rabbinic Ordination) and the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law (JD) and served as the Rabbi of the Beth Jacob Congregation in Columbus, Ohio before making Aliyah to Israel.
Rabbi Tuly lives with his wife and is blessed with 6 children and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.

Subscribe

Sign up to receive daily inspiration to your email

Recent Posts
Thwarting the Weapons of Technology
The Time is Now!
Broken Symbols, Broken Ideals

Related Articles

Subscribe

Sign up to receive daily inspiration to your email