After the meraglim gave their negative report on the Land of Israel, the Torah says (translations from Sefaria)

Numbers 13:30

וַיַּ֧הַס כָּלֵ֛ב אֶת־הָעָ֖ם אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה

Caleiv hushed the people before Moshe

Rashi, citing Sotah 35a explains

אל משה. לִשְׁמוֹעַ מַה שֶּׁיְּדַבֵּר בְּמֹשֶׁה, צָוַח וְאָמַר "וְכִי זוּ בִּלְבָד עָשָׂה לָנוּ בֶן עַמְרָם?!" הַשּׁוֹמֵעַ הָיָה סָבוּר שֶׁבָּא לְסַפֵּר בִּגְנוּתוֹ, וּמִתּוֹךְ שֶׁהָיָה בְלִבָּם עַל מֹשֶׁה בִּשְׁבִיל דִּבְרֵי הַמְרַגְּלִים, שָׁתְקוּ כֻלָּם לִשְׁמוֹעַ גְּנוּתוֹ, אָמַר "וַהֲלֹא קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם וְהוֹרִיד לָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן וְהֵגִיז לָנוּ אֶת הַשְּׂלָו!":‏

אל משה means he silenced them that they should hear what he was going to say about Moses. He cried aloud saying: “Is this the only thing the son of Amram has done to us?!" — One who heard him thus speaking believed that he was about to speak to his disparagement, and because they had something in their mind against Moses through the spies’ statements, all of them kept silent to hear his disparagement. He, however, said: “Did he not divide the Red Sea for us, and bring down the Manna for us, and collect the quails for us?!”

My question is why did Caleiv mention the שליו, or quail? I assume he's referring to the incident in last week's parsha with the quail (Numbers 11:4-35), that wasn't for their benefit like the other miracles he's describing. That was a punishment that killed members of the Jewish people

Numbers 11:33

הַבָּשָׂ֗ר עוֹדֶ֙נּוּ֙ בֵּ֣ין שִׁנֵּיהֶ֔ם טֶ֖רֶם יִכָּרֵ֑ת וְאַ֤ף יְהוָה֙ חָרָ֣ה בָעָ֔ם וַיַּ֤ךְ יְהוָה֙ בָּעָ֔ם מַכָּ֖ה רַבָּ֥ה מְאֹֽד׃

The meat was still between their teeth, nor yet chewed, when the anger of the LORD blazed forth against the people and the LORD struck the people with a very severe plague.

Now you could argue he's referring to the first appearance of the שליו in Exodus 16:12-13, and while their request there for meat was inappropriate we don't see that שליו as being a punishment. However I find that highly unlikely, considering the proximity of this parsha's incident and the שליו of punishment, mentioning it should upset the people not make them grateful to Moshe.

Important to note Rashi adds on the gemarra, which doesn't mention the שליו, so this is more a question on Rashi than the gemarra

  • Similarly Rashi (quoting a Midrash?) quotes a similar lineup in Ha'azinu (32:48): אף כאן במיתתו של משה נאמר בעצם היום הזה, לפי שהיו ישראל אומרים בכך וכך אם אנו מרגישין בו אין אנו מניחין אותו, אדם שהוציאנו ממצרים וקרע לנו את הים והוריד לנו את המן והגיז לנו את השליו והעלה לנו את הבאר ונתן לנו את התורה אין אנו מניחין אות
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 0:14
  • In the version in mevaqeshs quote it makes sense to be the first set of quail, just based on chronology
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 2:44
  • It's true the one he quoted would make sense with the first quail, but haazinu was 40 years later so either are good candicates; but like I said it's a little too soon to be mentioning the word quail, regardless of which he's referring to
    – robev
    Commented Jun 12, 2017 at 2:54
  • 2
    "I find that highly unlikely": that he's referring to the earlier one? Maybe it's unlikely. I don't see why, really. But your other point is stronger and you barely mention it: that even if he's referring to the older one, people will think if he newer one.
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 16:05
  • Gemoro taanis 29a supports this question as it states that 20th iyar they traveled 3 days, they straight away requested and ate quail mentioned in numbers they ate quail for 30 days from 22 iyar - 22 sivan then miriam had tzaraas 7 days and then from 29 iyar till 9th of av the meraglim toured eretz yisroel so it must be the miracle of producing the quail which Calev highlighted even though it led to their detriment.
    – user15464
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


Rabbi Asher Wassertheil in his Bircas Asher quotes Rashi and seems to imply that it is a reference to the second set of quail and not the earlier occurrence. He writes expressly:

"כלומר השליו נחשב כאן לנס חיובי"

"This means that the quails mentioned here (in Rashi) are to be regarded as a positive/obligatory miracle".

So Calev was affirming that the appearance of the quail was a miraculous occurrence. Even though the Bnei Yisrael were underserving at the time, Hashem still went out of His way kivyachol to provide for them and that is why it warranted mention.

And it is possible to posit that the second set of quail was very much a continuation of the first set and as such, a worthy miracle to mention. The Bircas Asher earlier, contrasts the two sets of quail and brings many a source to say how great the first set were i.e. how it fell along with the Mann and descended in abundance etc. The Gemara in Arachin 15b mentions both instances and Tosafos there notes:

פירש שפסק להם השליו ראשון והאספסוף אשר בקרבו התאוו תאוה לפי שלא היה להם שליו וירד להם שליו שני

We can explain that the first set of quail stopped and the mob that was in their midst desired/hungered more since they didn't have any, and then the second set of quail descended.

Indeed, Ramban on Shemos 16:12 notes during the 40 years in the desert, the Mann fell consistently but the quail was intermittent i.e. since it was not frequent, you don't have to view it as two separate instances but as one incident that was periodic.

So for those in the comments that view the quail mentioned by Rashi as going on the first set, it is possible to counter that this instance of quail was very much a continuation of the first time and as such still to be regarded as being miraculous. Therefore, either way you look at it, the quail was a miraculous occurrence and Calev was justified in mentioning it.

  • Although I found the other answer more directly addressed my question, since it was of poor quality and the bounty is up I'll reward it to you so it doesn't go to waste. You also put a lot of work into it.
    – robev
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 21:06
  • @Robev - gut moed! Many thanks! :)
    – Dov
    Commented Sep 22, 2021 at 19:13

Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe asked this exact question in his Likkutei Sichos (Vol. 8, pg. 85). The answer is quite lengthy but it's a worthwhile read.

For non-Yiddish speakers, you can find an English adaptation of his answer in the Gutnick Chumash, It can be accessed easily on this Google Doc.

  • 6
    Please consider giving a short summary of the main point.
    – robev
    Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 1:28
  • If you do I'll consider giving you the bounty
    – robev
    Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 21:56
  • @robev I'm not in it for the bounty I am in it for the kevod shamayim, but really I posted the English adaption very clearly on that word doc I linked and you can read it from the source itself which tends to be better than a summary. Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 17:22
  • Yes but people who use this site tend to prefer to see the answer state the answer instead of requiring clicking a link. See this and this
    – robev
    Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 17:39

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