Shelach 5774

Send spies for yourself (13:2) – Rashi notes that the connection between the stories of the spies and that of miriam comes from the fact that they saw what happened to her when she spoke about her brother and they did nothing about it. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman Shlita asks how a lesson of Lashon HaRa can be applied to a case of an inanimate object like the land?  He explains that although the transgression might not be the same, the concept is. Namely,  people need to learn that when they hold their tongues, they are saving themselves from Tzoros. Whether or not, the intent was evil or rose to a level of punishable transgression – the person who is careful with what comes out of the mouth gets away without the Tzoros.

Is there a tree in the land or not (13:20) – Why are they told to check the land out in all different ways except for the primary purpose – to identify Kedushas Haaretz? Whyshould they  not see that? Rav Yisroel Reisman Shlita quoted the Arvei Nachal who explains that wherever the Klal Yisrael camped Al Pi Hashem, that place had the status of a piece of Kedushas Eretz Yisrael. Therefore when the spies were to spy out the land, they would not need to move to Eretz Yisrael to achieve it. (In fact, the Miraglim wanted to keep the Jews out of the land in order to preserve this kedusha)<This idea may explain why the gemara notes that in the future the Shuls and Battei midrash will go to Eretz Yisrael. They too, will go home to rejoin the rest of the land from which they are a piece>.



And they went up in the south and he came until Chevron (13:22) - Rashi notes  that Calev alone went to  Chevron. He prostrated himself upon the graves of the partiarchs and  declared that he would not be swayed by the evil counsel of his colleagues.  Rabbi Shimon Kerner adds that Rashi teaches us a great lesson in confronting negative peer pressure. First, is the power of prayer. When an individual needs courage and inner strength, he can generate it through sincere prayer.  Additionally, by choosing the  burial  site of his ancestors Calev was noting that the numbers of people who withstand peer pressure successfully might be few in this particular moment but strongly mark those who have been successful throughout history.  

It is a land that consumes its inhabitants (13:32)Rashi explains that the Miraglim saw many funerals while there – at the direction of Hashem in order to deflect attention away from the Miraglim. However, instead of seeing this event as fortuitous, they saw it as a danger. Rav Chaim Sabato Shlita notes that this concept – that of a land that consumes the people – is one that seemed tied to the land of Israel in other instances as well (Yechezkel  36). Why then does it get used by the nations of the world in such a negative manner? Rav Sabato explains that when Eretz Yisrael is under Jewish sovereignty, then it thrives – when it is not, the level of growth is destructive in totality. For when under Jewish sovereignty then the name of Hashem can be associated with the land – assuming the Jewish sovereign chooses to recognize the source of the prosperity. If, however, the Jewish people, like their non-Jewish counterparts cannot allow the name of Hashem to reign – the land and its blessings shall consume the people sitting on the land.

And still as I am alive and the glory of Hashem fills the world (14:21) – Rav Asher Weiss Shlita notes that the issue of recognizing the glory of Hashem here is relevant because there are 2 distinct ways that Hashem’s glory can be felt throughout the world. The first is when we accept His direction without question. This was an opportunity that the Jews would ultimately fail at. At the same time, the other option is to scatter the Jews in the exile and have the glory of Hashem recognized as we experience the miraculous survival of the Jew there.  (This also explains the concept of Ani Eten Lachem Bechiya L’Doros – you gave up on the faith aspect and I will give you something to cry about in the future where you will display the glory of Hashem in a different context).

How much longer for this evil Eidah (14:27) – The concept of a Minyan is learned from this number. Why not use the more positive example of Eidah discussed in Parshas Emor? Why use the Evil Eidah to teach us about a minyan? Rav Hershel Schachter Shlita notes that at the time, this group had entered the land of Israel. The idea of Kiddush Hashem B’Rabim applies first to those living in Eretz Yisrael and, as a result, this group is the one used to derive that principle.

And you will see it and remember all the Mitzvos of Hashem and do them and not follow your eyes or your heart (15:39) -  Why is the seeing so critical to remembering the Mitzvos of Hashem? Rav Zaidel Epstein ztl. noted that through the process of visualization we make Torah LIVELY. When we stop to SEE the Torah and experience it (which is associated with the “Seeing” sense) we become a part of the living Torah process and therefore able to serve Hashem best.

Haftorah (Yehoshua 2) – Rav Binyamin Eisenberger Shlita notes that the battle between the Bnei Yisrael and the 31 kings they would ultimately have to capture is really not only one of a physical nature. Rather, in course of the battle, they would have to also fight one of a spiritual nature as well. In regard to the spiritual struggle, many would have, and have argued that had they been born under the “right” circumstances they too, would have served Hashem. However, the lesson of the Miraglim of Yehoshua’s time is that when one has a Shlichus – a life’s mission as we all do, then every day and every life is the optimal one for a person to be a messenger for Gilui Shemo in this world. Each person who dedicates himself to his mission in life first, is sure to live a fulfilling life (compare to thoughts of HaRav Goldvicht ztl. about the fears of the miraglim of Moshe’s time).