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Rabbi Krakowski: Parshas Shelach

In this week’s Sedra we read of the Chet Hameraglim – the sin of the Scouts. It is unclear whether Hashem had instructed or merely allowed Klal-Yisroel to send these scouts. What the specific transgression involved was is also somewhat unclear (see Ramban and Rashi)? The Torah tells us that the Meraglim spoke Diba (slanderous talk) regarding Eretz-Yisroel. Hence it would appear that the Meraglim sinned simply by speaking (Rashi seems to imply that the Meraglim actually blasphemed Hashem). An examination of the story shows that everything the Meraglim said seemed to be factual other than their saying: we (or Hashem according to Rashi) aren’t strong enough and won’t be able to conquer Eretz-Yisroel. The latter statement, while it was incorrect, wasn’t said as fact, but rather as opinion. What was wrong with the Meraglim giving their opinion?  After all, they went to scout the Land.  Weren’t they supposed to provide their thoughts after seeing Eretz-Yisroel?

Regardless of whether or not Hashem desired Klal-Yisroel to send the Meraglim, it was definitely done with Hashem’s consent. The Meraglim were instructed by Moshe Rabeinu to scout out the land and to come back and to tell the rest of Klal-Yisroel if the people were mighty or not; if the land lent itself to population growth or not etc. (see Rashi). Hashem had also promised Klal-Yisroel that they would merit Eretz-Yisroel and that they would conquer Eretz-Yisroel.

Before Yaakov Avinu went down to Mitzraim Hashem promised Yaakov that He would take him (Yaakov) back up from Mitzraim. Hashem even promised Yaakov Avinu that Yosef would close his eyes after his Petira. Yaakov Avinu nonetheless made Yosef promise him that he would take care of him after his death and that Yosef would see to it that he would be buried in Eretz-Yisroel.

Yaakov Avinu knew exactly what Retzon Hashem was and he therefore acted accordingly. Yaakov took advantage of the fact that he knew how things were supposed to work out and he therefore worked towards creating what was supposed to be. The Meraglim on the other hand didn’t.

Hashem promised Eretz-Yisroel to Klal-Yisroel; this should have been the goal they were working towards creating. Once they had the knowledge (via Hashem’s promising us Eretz-Yisroel) they should have understood our being victorious as a given. The Meraglim should have realized that their role was just to come up with the advice and tactics for actually accomplishing the conquest of Eretz-Yisroel. The Meraglim failed their task because they couldn’t place Hashem’s word as the absolute truth.

Hashem has given all of us the gift of the Torah. The Torah has many laws and rules. The Torah also has an abundance of deep and penetrating insights as to how we should conduct ourselves. We all grapple daily with the very same Nisayon (trial) as did the Meraglim. What Hashem expects from us is spelled out quite clearly. We must understand Retzon Hashem to be the absolute truth. We must work towards actualizing Retzon Hashem in every aspect of our lives.

A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski.

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