Parshat Devarim includes Moshe’s reviews of the Jewish people’s history, including admonitions and rebukes for past misdeeds. Among the transgressions mentioned is the people’s insistence on sending spies into the land that was promised to them. Moshe says, “all of you approached me and told me that we should send spies to research the land…” (1:22). Why did Moshe need to reference the fact that “all of you” approached him? Also, being that the generation that perpetrated the sin had already passed, why was Moshe addressing his audience as if they had been the guilty ones?
Rashi explains that “all of you” is referencing how the people approached Moshe asking for spies – they were disorderly, pushing each other out of the way to be heard. Reb Yaakov Kamenetzky explains that this is why the list of tribes sent to spy is not in genealogical order; because people pushed others out of their way to be heard out of order. As R’ Mordechai Kamenetzky (Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky’s grandson) explains, we all have ideas and opinions, but the manner in which they are presented has a real impact on their success. This lesson is for all to internalize, even if you’re not the culprits of such acts. That is why the experience is being mentioned for the benefit of the generation that followed the offenders, and for ours. Our ideas and opinions are only as good as the respect we convey them with.