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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Being Bill Buckner

While reading the account of the scouts sent to scout out The Land, I began to associate this pivotal point in the sage of the Hebrews heading toward The Land with the story of Bill Buckner. In Parshat Sh'lach I was intrigued by the attention given to the names of each of the scouts that were chosen to scout out The Land. After scouting The Land for 40 days, ten of the twelve scouts failed miserably in their reporting on the produce and the people of The Land. The scouts exclaimed Two scouts, Caleb and Joshua, were not fearful of what they encountered. It is Caleb and Joshua's names (mostly Joshua!) that we remember now. The other ten scouts, named and described as leaders and men of consequence, go down in history and are remembered for their giant error and not the for their good deeds.

This is what The Scouts told Moshe upon their return:

“We came to the land you sent us to; it does indeed flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who inhabit the country are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the Anakites there.

Amalekites dwell in the Negeb region; Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites inhabit the hill country; and Canaanites dwell by the Sea and along the Jordan.”

Caleb hushed the people before Moses and said, “Let us by all means go up, and we shall gain possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.”

But the other men who had gone up with him said, “We cannot attack that people, for it is stronger than we.”

Thus they spread calumnies among the Israelites about the land they had scouted, saying, “The country that we traversed and scouted is one that devours its settlers. All the people that we saw in it are of great size; we saw the Nephilim there—the Anakites are part of the Nephilim—and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them.”

Bamidbar 13:27-33

The words and thoughts of the spies greatly angered God and the Hebrews were consequently told that the generation, including all of the spies except Caleb and Joshua, would die in the desert in a journey that would be extended for forty years.


If you are not from New England, Bill Buckner may not be a name familiar to you. Bill Buckner was a Red Sox player who died of dementia in 2019. He played 20 seasons in the major leagues and once was an All Star, but he is remembered not so much for his career, as he is recalled for an error made during a playoff baseball game in 1986.

During that game, in the tenth inning of game 6 of the World Series between the Mets and the Red Sox, Buckner mistakenly allowed a slowly hit ground ball to first base roll between his legs which allowed the Mets to take the game, and then the series and the championship. When the name of Bill Buckner is mentioned in greater Boston, we don't so much recall his career, but the mistake that he made that continued "The Curse of the Bambino(Babe Ruth)."until it was finally broken in 2004.

The world of sports is not the same as the world of religious development, but there is common ground this week in the colossal mistake of the spies/scouts and Bill Buckner's error. It invites us to think about how we will be remembered after we are gone. Will it for the smooth roads, the high hills or the bumps of life? Our mistakes or our good deeds?

Thanks, Bill Buckner, for your memory. I am grateful that you lived to see the Red Sox break the curse.

To you, (names follow below), the ten scouts who goofed terribly.

To the chieftains, who were each men of consequence and leaders of a nation, whose names are not so remembered today, but their mistakes are read each year, I'm writing this post to let you know that we finally reached The Land.

Shammua ben Zaccur,

Shaphat ben Hori

Yigal ben Yosef

Palti ben Rafu

Gaddiel by Sodi

Gaddi ben Susi

Ammiel ben Gemalli

S'tur ben Michael

Nachbee ben Vaphsi

and Geuel son of Machi

With the hope that the news will improve and we will hear better news soon.

Play Ball!





Bill Buckner's Error in 1986

The Boston Red Sox Break The Curse of the Bambino in 2004


Poems from Words Have Wings on Parshat Sh’lach


So Moses, by יהוה’s command, sent them out from the wilderness of Paran, all of them being men of consequence, leaders of the Israelites.

Numbers 13:3

Thus they spread calumnies among the Israelites about the land they had scouted, saying, “The country that we traversed and scouted is one that devours its settlers. All the people that we saw in it are of great size;

Bamidbar 13:32


לָת֣וּר אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ

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