Judaism: Shlach: The Lady and the Fringed Garment
Rabbi Dr. Yakov NagenThe writer, a musmach of YU and Ph.d. from the Heb. Univ. of Jerusalem, is head of the Otniel hesder yeshiva kollel..His books (Hebrew) include “Nishmat HaMishna”, “Water, Creation and Divinity: Sukkot in the Philosophy of Halacha” and “Awaking to a New Day: Stories and Insights from Life”.
The Talmud tells the tale of the yeshiva student who was overcome with desire to meet a certain well-known courtesan.
He sends a large sum of money in advance and goes on a long journey to meet her. Ultimately he arrives, but right before sinning, the halakhic fringes on his garment, Tzitzit, slap him in the face, bringing him back to his senses.
In the continuation of the story, we discover that the hero is not the student but rather the lady of ill repute, who as a result of the meeting, ultimately embarks on a journey of her own.
The structure of the Talmudic story parallels the structure of the verses about Tzitzit which appear in Parshat Shelach.
This story also illuminates the approach of the Ba'al Shem Tov towards the Evil Inclination, the Yetsar.