A sad account

Send men to scout the land of Canaan, each one a chieftain among them. A tale of unsuitable leaderrs.

Professor Gerald Aranoff, | updated: 09:33

Judaism Prof. G. Aranoff
Prof. G. Aranoff

I write this as a memorial to my brother, Professor Sanford Aranoff who passed away in Jerusalem 23rd of Sivan 5775

This week’s parsha is the sad account of the cowardice and murmurings of the report of the spies.

“Send men to scout the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people; send one man from each of their ancestral tribes, each one a chieftain among them. So Moses, by the Lord’s command, sent them out from the wilderness of Paran, all the men being leaders of the Israelites.” (Numbers 13:2-3).

Tanchuma Shelach 4:

“Send men to scout. Scripture states “Like vinegar to the teeth, Like smoke to the eyes, Is a lazy man to those who send him on a mission” (Proverbs 10:26). It was evident the spies would speak bad on The Land, as it is said “They bend their tongues like bows; They are valorous in the land For treachery, not for honesty; They advance from evil to evil. And they do not heed Me —declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:2). This can be likened to a king who had a vineyard. When he saw that the wine was beautiful, he says to his aristocrats: Bring it in my house. When he sees that it is vinegar, he says to his aristocrats: Bring it in to your houses. Here, too, when God sees the righteous elders: “Then the Lord said to Moses, Gather for Me אספה לי seventy of Israel’s elders of whom you have experience as elders and officers of the people, and bring them to the Tent of Meeting and let them take their place there with you” (Numbers 11:16).  When He saw that the spies will in the future sin, He called for Moses to send, as written, to you שלח לך.”

The ten spies were leaders unfit for their positions

The ten spies were good at the time of sending but became bad. Rashi says that at the time Moses sent the spies, all the men were good men אותה שעה כשרים היו.  

They were leaders unfit for their positions. They were not Torah scholars. They were lazy men. They became bad.

Midrash Rabbah - Ecclesiastes VII:37

“Now, I find woman more bitter than death; she is all traps, her hands are fetters and her heart is snares. He who is pleasing to God escapes her, and he who is displeasing is caught by her” (Ecclesiastes 7:26). The Rabbis say: Because she demands of man things which are beyond his power she ultimately kills him with a bitter death. A man once had a neighbor who was a bandit and used to go out to commit robbery at night, while by day he supported his sons and daughters [in comfort]. That man's wife exclaimed, How unlucky I am to be attached to you! Do you not see how [luxuriously] our neighbor's children eat and drink? The husband said to her, Do you want me to act like him? She replied, What of it! He said to her, Come and persuade him to let me go with him. They went and persuaded him, so that he agreed to take him with him. The bandit went out [with his men to rob] that night, but the guard had planned to go after them. Since he was familiar with the roads he fled and was saved; but this man, being ignorant of the roads, was captured and hanged, and they quoted the proverb over him, The last of the robbers is the first of the hanged.”

The ten spies did not deserve to become leaders

My theory is that the ten wicked spies were good men that their wives drove them to be become leaders.  They really didn’t deserve to be leaders. They studied little Torah and were active in politics. The end of them was: “those who spread such calumnies about the land died of plague, by the will of the Lord” (Numbers 14:37).   

I heard that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a”h, explained that all the years of slavery in Egypt, the haste during the Exodus etc, with enemies chasing etc, interfered with Torah study for many. The tribe of Dan was in charge of helping stragglers and guarding the rear, as written “Then, as the rear guard of all the divisions, the standard of the division of Dan would set out, troop by troop. In command of its troop was Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai”(Numbers 10:25).

For you will not depart in haste

The coming full redemption will be without haste and with no interferences with Torah study. Isaiah prophesizes:

“Raise a shout together, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the Lord will comfort His people, Will redeem Jerusalem. The Lord will bare His holy arm In the sight of all the nations, And the very ends of earth shall see The victory of our God. Turn, turn away, touch naught unclean As you depart from there; Keep pure, as you go forth from there, You who bear the vessels of the Lord! For you will not depart in haste, Nor will you leave in flight; For the Lord is marching before you, The God of Israel is your rear guard. (Isaiah 52:9-12)

God will redeem Jerusalem before the world

Thank you, Donald J. Trump, for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.  You are like the ancient King Cyrus in the Bible: “Also the silver and gold vessels of the House of God that Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from the temple in Jerusalem and brought to the temple in Babylon—King Cyrus released them from the temple in Babylon to be given to the one called Sheshbazzar whom he had appointed governor. He said to him, Take these vessels, go, deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem, and let the House of God be rebuilt on its original site” (Ezra 5:14-15).

Mr. President, Donald J. Trump, do we have your permission to rebuild the House of God on its original site?