Savannah Kollel Insights
Vol. 8 # 34 JN 14-15, '96:
Parshas Shlach (outside of Eretz Yisrael),
Korach (in Eretz Yisrael)
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein firstname.lastname@example.org
Uprooting the Shoots
Everything that we do has an
effect on the world at large, and an effect above, in the supernal realm.
The Kabbalists refer to certain spiritual categories which can be identified
in man; they also exist in the world about us. Man should endeavor to mirror
G-d's qualities; in so doing, the entire world will come a measure closer
to G-d's intended plan. If, however, man defies the challenge, and veers
from imitating G-d's qualities, he can take the world farther from G-d's
vision. Eventually, the supernal realm, too, will take cognizance -- and
In Parshas Shlach, we are told
that G-d commanded the people by the hand of Moshe to send spies. They were
to investigate the quality of the land. When they return with a negative
report, the people lose faith and seek to return to Egypt. Joshua and Kalev
protest, and the people try to kill them.
As a result of their lack of
faith, G-d decrees that the people must remain in the desert for 40 years.
Contradiction: Whose idea?
In the Book of Deuteronomy
(Devarim1:22) however, Moshe relates the events in a different manner. There,
we are told that the entire idea of sending the spies originated with the
people. It was not G-d's suggestion, nor Moshe's!
Many commentaries give
the following explanation, based on the words of the Ramban (Nachmanides):
The original idea was the people's. It was a poor idea, because G-d had told
them how desireable the Holy Land was. However, He agreed to the plan, and
actually commanded them that they had to to follow through with it. The reason?
A mitzvah affords protection. Their own intentions were poor, but they could
strengthen themselves with a Divine commandment. Their own personal fears
and interests conflicted with the intentions of the Commander, however. As
a result of their lack of dedication to the intentions of the mitzvah, it
did not afford protection.
The Beis Yoseif, however,
explained differently in his work, Magid Meisharim. The solution was presented
that, as a result of previous complaints, G-d was already angry. In His great
mercy, He granted them one additional test. The thought was planted in their
minds to request spies. Moshe would tell them to see how beautiful the land
was. Thus they would have one additional chance to hurry to the Land in joy.
However, the spies told themselves: Moshe only mentioned the areas of which
he is certain that the Land is blessed. Perhaps we will find negative qualities
Indeed, they did find what they
thought to be negative: The people who dwelt there were very powerful...
"weak people, such as ourselves, cannot conquer such a territory..." They
had failed their test.
Fom both answers we have the impression
that wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we must try to find G-d's will
-- and fulfill it. Anything can become a mitzvah -- even if our intentions
were not originally so, or ideas were planted in our brains. Security, though,
comes only from actually fulfilling G-d's will, or at least striving to fulfill
Korach began a major rebellion
against Moshe. the essence of the story of Korach, according to Magid Meisharim,
was the separation. Authority comes from the last spiritual category of the
Kabbalists -- "malchus." However, "malchus" must raise the other categories
along with it. Where there is elevation, everything must be elevated. If
only the authority is elevated -- but remains isolated -- this is pure pride
and haughtiness. So goes the story of Korach, the epitome of "argument not
for the sake of Heaven." Korach is the epitome of self- elevation -- separation.
(c) Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Genesis, '97
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