In this sad Parsha we learn about
the sin of the spies. The whole episode seems to be very unclear. Why did the
ten spies bring a bad report? What exactly was the lack of belief that caused
most of the nation to not want to enter the
The sin of the spies might be one of the saddest episodes in our history<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. This sin was never fully forgiven. The day after which the nation accepted the bad report, crying the entire night, became the saddest day in our calendar: the Ninth of Av. It is very important to understand the exact nature of the sin of the spies in order not to repeat it. It is certainly hard to imagine that their sin was simple lack of trust and belief. As usual in regards to the sins of the ancients<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>, there had to be some element of “Leshem Shamaim” – “for the sake of heaven”<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> in them.
To gain a better understanding of what happened, we need to realize that Hashem’s Hanhaga (rule over the universe) also operates according to certain principles. In a way, there is a structure even for the way miracles are performed. Just like there physical laws, though not binding at all to the Creator Himself, but rather these are the rules that He Himself choose to operate through, so too there are spiritual laws. Even though Hashem could have ruled in a manner of no pattern, He willed instead to regulate the world according to a set of laws that He Himself created. One of the reasons for this decision is for us to be able to have at least some grasp to the spiritual Hanhaga. If this would not be done, then Hashem’s Will would be totally beyond our understanding. In truth, the Infinite Will of the Creator is indeed beyond our grasp, but He allows us to talk about finite parts of His Will which makes the connection possible between us, finite creatures and Himself – the Infinite Being<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. Indeed the entire discussion in Kabala regarding Sefiros, Partzufim and Olamos has to do with learning about parts of Hashem’s Will<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. The famous concept of “Tzimztum” – (constriction) has to do with Hashem “limiting” his infinite abilities and using only finite Will Power to create the universe in the way it was created.
Using these principles we can
begin to understand the mistake of the ten spies as well. Certainly the spies
had no doubt about what Hashem can do. However the question was not what
Hashem is able to do, but rather what He will actually do
according to the spiritual laws of Hanhaga. Is our nation on the correct
spiritual level to be able to wage battle on the spiritual front with the
Canaanite nations rooted very deeply in spiritual worlds<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>?
Are there righteous enough people to protect the inhabitants of
What these highly spiritually
sensitive people saw in the
Indeed the spies were making a
horrible mistake. Had we only entered the
As we all know the ten spies were punished with the attribute of strict justice. As we mentioned in Parshas Ki Sisa, Hashem’s judgment of great people is stricter, according to their level<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. As for our nation, it suffered catastrophic consequences. Even Moshe was not able to secure for us a full forgiveness, but only softened the Divine decree. However our people accepted their punishment righteously. For the next 39 years they would voluntarily dig their own graves every Ninth of Av and went to sleep in them. The next morning some would not wake up.
Did our nation learn its’ lesson?
To answer this question we have to realize that for everything good there is an
opposite force as well. This force, the yetzer hara often uses the most logical
arguments and even presents a sin as a mitzvah. At times, even the episode of
this Parsha is used by it. When we study what our sages have to say about the
mitzvah of living in the
Our sages teach us that there is
a time when it’s a mitzvah for the Jewish people as a whole to reside in the
In the past century, the Zionist
movement tried to get all the Jewish people to immigrate to
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Obviously this sin had the greatest effect on our history in the desert. Moreover, according to Ramban (16:1) the rebellion of Korach was also a direct result of the punishment after the sin of the spies.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In particular, the spies were all important people chosen by Moshe himself.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See our words to Parshas Ki Sisa regarding the sin of Yeroveam.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See detailed discussion in Ramchal, Maamar Havikuach, 42-50; Klach Pischey Chochma, 1; Likutim printed after the GR”A’s peirush to Sifra Detzniusa, starting with words: Sod Hatzimztum.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> This is compared by Ramchal (Maam Hachochoma starting with words: “Inyan Hasfiros”) to a person that tries to appear and act a certain way in a group of others whose intellectual level is lower than his. He creates a type of image of himself through which he operates in the manner they can understand. All of us do this at times, when we talk to little children. Similarly, Hashem Who is Infinite, creates various “masks” through which we can gain some connection to Him. Thus the prophets all saw images of Hashem, even though in their prophesies they also received an understanding that this image is not Hashem Himself, for He has no image. Similarly our nation at Mount Sinai saw an image of Hashem as an old man full of mercy (see Rashi, Shemos 20:2 in the name of Mechilta).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Rav Yitzchak Eizek Chaver in Afikey Yam, Sotah 35a.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Rav Menachem Azaria In Yonas Ilem, 88 and Divrey Yoel on this Parsha.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The day they died became a voluntary fast day (see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 580:2; Kaf Hachaim 580:14.)
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Talmud, Menachos 109b; Avos Derabbi Noson 10:3 that even meek and humble people, once they get in position of power find it very difficult to step away from it when time comes.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See the Talmud, Bava Metzia 33b.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Sifri, Ree 28, Vayoel Moshe 2:36. See also Sifri Ekev, 7; Sifra Behar, 5; Sifri Haazinu, 28.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See
the GR”A’s letter to his wife during his journey to the
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Rav
Yisroel from Shklov (a student of Vilna Gaon) in Peas Hashulchan 1:15 who
brings many sources for this. Among others he quotes the Maharam, that the
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See
Vayoel Moshe 2:33. See also Questions and Answers Meil Tzedaka, 26 that if one
makes a living outside the
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Talmud, Kesubos 111a, letters of Rabbeinu Weismandel printed in “Toras Chemed”, 65th letter.
On the other hand those people who came to the
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> As we
see, right after the sin of the ten spies there were many people who were
hoping to “compensate” by conquering the land, and they were not successful. Indeed
the mitzvah of waging war to get the