Rabbi Hagai Lundin
Rabbi Hagai LundinCourtesy

Shaming is perhaps the ugliest of all the ugly phenomena that exist in our culture. The intolerable ease of a society embarrassing a person, institution or place – without trial and without clarification. The problem is not only the damage done to the shamed, so much as the moral decay that occurs among the shamers. One is supposed to check a thousand times and immerse in the mikveh (ritual bath) seven times before clicking "share,. to use a religious expression for avoiding sin not usually applied to the web.

It is beyond my comprehension to understand how the "courageous" keyboard shamers sleep well at night.

Among the first to shame – in this case, the Land of Israel - were the spies. In the Book of Lamentations which we read on Tisha B'Av, each (except for the last) chapter is written in alphabetical order. From the second chapter onwards, the verse that begins with the letter "Peh" precedes the verse that begins with the letter "Ayin"‎, which is the reverse order of these letters. The sages explain this change, using the names of the letters as words, to teach that the spies in our Torah portion – who slandered the Land of Israel on Tisha B'Av – used their mouth [peh, in Hebrew] before their eye [ayin, in Hebrew].

In other words, the slander of the spies is the product of those who open their mouths before seeing clearly, sealing fates before looking clearly at the situation. The same can be said for Korach and his adherents vis a vis Moses and Aharon.

The story of the spies was written for posterity to shame the shamers. To remember that in the end, the spies – and everyone who backed them up with inflammatory talkbacks – were left in the desert.

The only ones who entered the Land of Israel were Caleb ben Yefuna and Joshua ben Nun. This is the message for people who stand tall even while the media lies and shaming is rampant, quietly telling a deep and fundamental truth; even when it’s not popular.