Life lessons from the parsha: Shlach

Breaking forth.

Moshe Kempinski,

Judaism Moshe Kempinski
Moshe Kempinski
צילום: PR

The rote and sameness of life can become a trap. We become so used to what we expect should happen and as a result the concept of change becomes frightening. Frightening can then even become ominous. This becomes one of the biggest obstacles to growth.

The second trap lies in perception. Once we have categorized and labeled aspects of our reality, we then separate those aspects from each other. We fail to see the unity in all those pieces of our reality and as a result fail to see the enormous power in their unification.

In the Torah portion of “Shelach- Numbers 13:1–15:41” we read how Moshe sent twelve spies into the land to explore its strengths and weaknesses. Ten of these spies return with an evil report and only two ,Joshua and Calev declare that “the land is very, very good”.

What is it that gave these two  the strength to perceive what the others missed? It is clear that Joshua had the strength to avoid the pitfall , because he received a special blessing when his name was changed from Hoshea to Yehoshuah (Rashi, Sotah 34b).

Calev( Caleb) , we are told had a "different Spirit”." But as for My servant Calev, since he was possessed by another spirit, and he followed Me, I will bring him to the land to which he came, and his descendants will drive its inhabitants out. (Numbers14:24).

What gave him that different Spirit ? We read of the entry into the land of the twelve spies; ”They went up in, the south, and he came to Hebron...” (ibid 13:22) .Calev was the "he" who turned aside to pray at the caves of the Patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov. It is there in Hebron that that different spirit was sparked in him. It is not surprising then that it is that place that Calev receives as an inheritance “And to Calev they gave Hebron” (as his portion in the Land of Israel) (Judges 1:20).

More importantly, we must explore what was it that led the other ten to so completely lose the power of discernment? These other ten were not regular men but rather men of great spiritual stature.

""Send out for yourself men who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. You shall send one man each for his father's tribe; each one shall be a chieftain in their midst."So Moses sent them from the desert of Paran by the word of Hashem. All of them were men of distinction; they were the heads of the children of Israel."Numbers 13:2-3)

The Baal HaTanya explains, that these men had experienced the highest spiritual experiences that mortals can envision. They experienced G-d’s great hand in Egypt and at the Red Sea and they heard the Divine voice at Mount Sinai. They lived in the desert but they drank from the miraculous well of Miriam and ate of the manna from heaven and were protected in their voyage by the very clouds of Glory.

Why would they want to leave all of that purely spiritual experience and lower themselves into a land where they would by necessity become involved with the physicality of reality?

They could not break away from what they had become accustomed. That had been true as well when they had to break away from their slave mentality. It was true here, again, when they had to prepare to break away from their wilderness-mentality.

They believed that spirituality is best separated from the physical.

Joshua and Calev declared “The Land is very, very good.”There is no distinction between the spiritual and the physical. The spiritual must be brought down into our physical reality and the spiritual needs to be elevated towards its spiritual essence and purpose. That is exactly what the land of Israel was meant to be.

It was difficult to break out into that new understanding.

The Gaon of Vilna, wrote that it is the “sin of the spies” that will plague the Jewish people throughout the generations until the last days. “Many will fall in this great sin of, ‘They despised the cherished Land.’ Also many guardians of the Torah will not know or understand that they are caught in the sin of the Spies…” (Kol HaTor, Ch.5).

In the midst of all the confusion and fears abounding in the world may we develop true vision. It is that vision that we desperately need as a people walking our plan of destiny. It is as true as we  individuals walk  our own pathway of growth.

 May we be blessed with that  “different spirit” so that we can loudly declare ”ki yachol nuchal lah (“for we shall surely overcome it”) and as a result truly  break forth.

LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved