Piece of Cake
It was not a good scenario. The twelve spies returned from their forty-day
sojourn to the Land of Canaan and ten of them were not happy campers.
left as an enthusiastic and united crew, selected by Moshe for what should
have been an easy mission of assurance -- confirming what they were already
told by their forebears, as well as the Almighty -- Eretz Yisrael is a
beautiful land that flows with milk and honey. Instead, the only two who
had anything positive to say about the land of Israel, were Calev and
Yehoshua. The rest of the spies claimed that the land was not good and
that there were dangerous giants living there who would crush them. And
now, in the face of the derogatory, inflammatory and frightening remarks
that disparaged the Promised Land, Calev and Yehoshua were left to defend it.
It was too late. The ten evil spies had stirred up the negative passions
of a disheartened nation. The people wanted to return to Egypt. But the
two righteous men, Yehoshua and Calev, tried to persuade them otherwise.
The first and most difficult task facing them was to get the Children of
Israel to listen to them. The Torah tells us:
“They spoke to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel, saying, "The
Land that we passed through, to spy it out -- the Land is very, very good.
If Hashem desires us, He will bring us to this Land and give it to us, a
Land that flows with milk and honey. But do not rebel against Hashem! You
should not fear the people of the Land, for they are our bread. Their
protection has departed from them; Hashem is with us. Do not fear them!"
What did they mean by saying that the giants were “our bread”? Did they
mean that the children of Israel will eat them like bread? Why bread of
A story that circulated during the 1930s told of Yankel, a Jewish immigrant
from the Ukraine who made his livelihood selling rolls on a corner in lower
Manhattan. He was not an educated man. With poor eyesight and a hearing
problem, he never read a newspaper or listened to the radio. He would
daven, say Tehillim, learn a bit of Chumash, and bake his rolls. Then he
would stand on the side of the road and sell his fresh-baked delicious
“Buy a roll, mister?” he would ask passersby, the majority of them would
gladly oblige with a generous purchase. Despite his simple approach,
Yankel did well. He ordered a larger oven and increased his flour and
yeast orders. He brought his son home from college to help him out.
Then something happened. His son asked him, “Pa, haven’t you heard about
the situation with the world markets? There are going to be great problems
soon. We are in the midst of a depression!”
The father figured that his son’s economic forecast was surely
right. After all, his son went to college whereas he himself did not even
read the papers. He canceled the order for the new oven and held s for
more flour, took down his signs and waited. Sure enough with no
advertisement and no inventory, his sales fell overnight. And soon enough
Yankel said to his son. “You are right. We are in the middle of a great
Bread is the staple of life, but it also is the parable of faith. Our
attitude toward our bread represent our attitude toward every challenge of
faith. If one lives life with emunah p’shutah, simple faith, then his
bread will be sufficient to sustain him. The customers will come and he
will enjoy success. It is when we aggrandize the bleakness of the
situation through the eyes of the economic forecasters, the political
pundits, or the nay sayers who believe in the power of their predictions
and give up hope based on their mortal weaknesses, then one might as well
Yehosua and Calev told the people that these giants are no more of a
challenge than the demands of our daily fare. They are our bread. And as
with our daily fare, our situation is dependent totally on our faith.
we listen to the predictions of the forecasters and spies, we lose faith in
the Almighty and place our faith in the powerless. However, by realizing
that the seemingly greatest challenges are the same challenges of our daily
fare — our bread — the defeat of even the largest giants will be a piece
Dedicated by Rabbi & Mrs. Mordechai Kamenetzky upon the birth of a son.
Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi M. Kamenetzky and Project Genesis, Inc.
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The author is the Associate Dean of the
Yeshiva of South Shore.
Drasha is the e-mail edition of FaxHomily, a weekly torah facsimile on the weekly portion which is sponsored by The Henry and Myrtle Hirsch Foundation