by Rabbi Dovid Green
"And they returned from spying out the land at the end of 40 days. And they
came to Moshe and Aharon...and they showed them its fruit...and they told
them...We have come to the land you have sent us to, and it is indeed
flowing with milk and honey. Only, the people in it are strong, and the
cities are great and extremely fortified, and we even saw the children of
the Anak (giants) there." (As the people began to stir) "And Calev hushed
the people to Moshe, and he said we will go up and inherit it because we can
win." "And the (other) people who went with him said we can't go up, because
he (the nation living in the land) is stronger than us."
After the ten plagues in Egypt, the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, the
revelation at Sinai, the miraculous food which fell from heaven each
morning, and the well of water which followed the Jews through the
wilderness, how could such a discussion take place? It's almost impossible
to fathom how anyone could have claimed that the Caananite nations were
stronger than they were. If we would have been there, we certainly would not
have made such a silly mistake!
Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan (d. 1933) explains what happened. It is based on
the following discussion. G-d promised the land to the Jews. On the highest
level of trust in G-d, a person would have said, "we can win simply because
G-d said He would give us the land." On a lower level of trust a person
might add "G-d can bring us in if He wants to, but do we deserve it?" This
is the crux of the discussion which took place between the 12 spies who went
to survey The Land of Israel before conquering it. 10 said that the Jews had
lost their merits after having done the Sin of the Golden Calf, and other
various sins. The description they gave of the land is one that only
supports great people, but not people of "our" stature. This was their
intention in showing the exraordinarily large fruit. The point was "we are
not capable of living in a land which on the one hand flows with milk and
honey, but on the other hand demands such a high standard from its
inhabitants." "A king's servant may be able to get away with a lower
standard of behavior in some far flung province, but such behavior is
inexcusable in the king's palace (Israel)."
The 2 spies Calev and Yehoshua, argued that the premise of the 10 spies is
wrong. G-d does not take the approach that He won't help us unless we are
righteous. Rather, the approach is as long as we are not rebelling against
Him He will help us. These are the words of Calev and Yehoshua,"just don't
rebel against G-d." The Chofetz Chaim writes, "as long as a person doesn't
rebel against G-d, by intentionally not fulfilling His commandments, that
person can hope for all forms of good."
The message to us is that we should always remind ourselves that as long as
we are trying to improve, even if we fail miserably time and time again, we
will receive help. G-d does not give up on us. We should not give up on
ourselves. We don't have to be perfect, we just have to be striving on our
level. G-d will never ask us "why weren't you completely righteous?" He will
ask us why we didn't try to be as good as we were able. This is the message
from Parshas Shelach, "just don't rebel against G-d."
Text Copyright © 1997 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.