Contributing AuthorA contributing author.
Last year, an astute religious-nationalist recently put a slogan out over the internet which sums up the falsity of thinking that resulted in the whole bogus "Oslo process" and in which I've changed only the name to keep with the times:
?From the people who brought you the Oslo Accords and the escape from Lebanon...
From the folks who gave them the weapons, ammunition and bombs, which have resulted in hundreds of Jewish deaths, thousands of injuries and multitudes of Jewish bloodshed...
Get Ready for the next great plan for Israel's future; 'The Roadmap'.
Coming soon to a politician near you!?
We've heard of many plans during the past 34 months of this Oslo War. These plans have been bandied about by those ungrounded in Torah and unconnected spiritually with Eretz Yisrael. These defective plans for the future of the land, such as the "Mitchell Plan", "Tenent Plan", "unilateral seperation", "security fence", etc. were formulated by both Israel's government and the American State Department to cope with the total defeat of the "Oslo process." As this commentary on the parshat hashevua is being written, we are suffering through, and bleeding with, what may be the most dangerous and lethal plan of them all: the State Department's/EU's/Russia's mis-directed "Roadmap" to a Terrorist State in our midst, with the complicity of the Israeli government. This complicity is under the guise of being helplessly subservient to America's marching orders, a cynical attempt to bleed us to death and separate Jews from our Torah heritage and our divine legacy in Eretz Yisrael. It is the "Roadmap" to Gehennom. Daily, the whole notion increases in absurdity.
In recent days we've heard that the Arab "Refrigerator Bomber", who two decades ago blew up a refrigerator in a public place, killing 13 Jews and wounding scores more, was released as part of the "Roadmap" and was promptly embraced and appointed by Yasser Arafat as his special assistant. This action came right on the heels of last Wednesday's Islamikazi suicide bombing of the #14 bus. The death toll from that attack now stands at 18, with way over 100 wounded.
And the other "Roadmap" absurdities read like a litany from Chelm. The coup-de-grace came Tuesday, when it was announced that Israel's government is considering releasing, as part of the Roadmap, Marwan Barghouti, the biggest ringleader of Oslo War murderers in custody and who is currently being tried for scores of his Oslo War crimes.
Jews who have established hilltop settlements are being evicted, "transferred" as this is being written. And numerous Yishuvim have found themselves back on the "Roadmap" chopping block. I presume that soon we shall hear that Israel was compelled to return Orient House to the PLO terrorist murderers. Arik Sharon and the government of Israel have caved-in. They have surrendered in the name of their agenda; their own self-interest, self-aggrandizement, protekzia and insatiable addiction to the bosom of American financial aid and loan guarantees. Yosef Q. Israeli be damned. The government, the politicians have become totally blinded by their complete hatred and disdain for their Jewish roots....
But what does all of this have to do with our parsha?
The answer to this question would seem to center around discussion of the motivations of the spies. Hashem tells Moshe in the second posuk of parshat Shelach: ?Shelach l'cha anashim v'yawtou'rou et Eretz Cana'an.... ish echad l'matei avotav tishlachu... kol nasi vahem.? -- ?Send for yourself men to scout the land of Cana'an.... one man each for his father's tribe... every one a prince among them.? (Bamidbar, perek 13, posuk 2)
There are several timely thoughts brought in Aharon Yaakov Greenberg's Torah Gems on the parsha. (pages 58-60) Rabbi Yisrael Morganstern of Pilov asks why the Torah follows the story of Miriam's punishment of tzora'as (after she spoke against Moshe) with the story of the spies. Rabbi Morganstern quotes from Rashi, "Miriam was afflicted for maligning her brother and those wicked men (i.e., the spies) saw this and didn't learn from it." The idea here is that "if a person doesn't wish to see the truth, nothing will help even if one shows him directly. Such a person has closed his eyes and cannot see. ...These wicked men saw, with their own eyes and did not merely hear of the case or read of it, and yet... they did not learn from it."
Rabbi Hanokh Hanokh of Alexander contrasts the two sets of spies, the 12 sent by Moshe whose mission failed and the two sent later by Yehoshua, upon B'nai Yisrael's preparation to enter Eretz Yisrael, who succeeded. The difference between the two sets of spies seems related to their character traits and the resultant impact on their motivations. ?The men sent by Moshe were all ?men?? -- individuals with their own personal agendas; whereas, those sent by Yehoshua ?had no personal axes to grind? and ?therefore, put their lives at risk to perform their mission to the best of their ability.?
The Ma'adanei Melekh comments on Shelach l'cha that Hashem did not command Moshe, but left the decision of sending spies at the discretion of Moshe. (Rashi) "In other words, send whoever you wish, but be sure that they are going for you. People who are egotistical and only interested in themselves are, by nature, conceited. Such people find fault readily and will do so even with the precious Holy Land."
Rabbi Pliskin, in Growth Through Torah, brings a quote from a mussar personality, Rabbi A.M. Shimanowitz, and a story about Rabbi Eliyah Meir Bloch, z.t.l., Rosh Yeshiva of Telz. "And they told him, and they said, we came to the land where you sent us. And it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is it's fruit." Rabbi Shimanowitz used to comment: "Rashi cites the Sages on this verse that, 'Every falsehood that does not start with some truth will not last.' Unfortunately, today there are many people who mistakenly feel that every truth that is not mixed with some falsehood will not last." (cited in Chayai Hamussar, vol.1, page 71) Let's recall that it wasn't long after those words of the Torah were uttered that the B'nai Yisrael is told the people who reside in the land are as giants and that they, the spies, were, comparatively, grasshoppers.
Rabbi Eliyah Meir Bloch once related an incident which happened to him during a vist to Eretz Yisrael. "On the shores of Yam Kinneret he had the urge to immerse himself in the sea. On a stony deserted beach, Rav Elya Meir prepared himself to enter the water and walked barefoot over the sharp stones towards the water.
"'What are you doing?' asked his startled companion. 'I want to be able to say that I bathed in the Kinneret,' he replied. The man looked at him incredulously, 'But why go to all the trouble? Who's going to stop you from saying it?' Rav Elya Meir was astonished by the question, 'It used to be said, If you can tell the truth, why tell a lie? Now people say, If you can tell a lie, why bother with the truth?'" (Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller, the Jewish Observer, Sept., 1977)
In addition, we learn that there are other discussions regarding the motivations of the spies. A number of years ago, in a weekly parsha sheet distributed by the National Council of Young Israel, Rabbi Dr. Chaim Wakslak of the Young Israel of Long Beach brought a point from the Chasam Sofer. Rabbi Wakslak stated that the Chasam Sofer suggests, in his preface to his books of Responsa, that "It was because of their leadership positions, intense piety and their acclimation to a miraculous existence that they wanted to avoid the (perception of) non-spiritual, non-miraculous, somewhat pedestrian existence that awaited them in Eretz Yisrael."
So it seems possible that there could have been an honest, l'shem shemayim motivation on the part of the spies. But when we learn about the particularly gruesome midda-keneged-midda punishment (involving the tongue and the navel) meted out to the spies "...for having spoken lashon hara with their tongues about Eretz Yisrael," it seems likely that self-interest and aggrandizement were more likely to have been the main motivation for the false reports of 10 of the 12 spies.
Further, Gemara Yerushalmi says that the false report of the spies was the chronological beginning of a series of rebellions that followed it in Torah. Among these rebellions were the myriad of complaints, the fire which consumed some of the erev rav and the original group of 70 Elders, the incident of the quails, Korach's rebellion and his resultant punishment along with Dasan and Aviram and the 250 men, etc.
And before applying "the hook" in explaining the relationship to contemporary times, it is pertinent to discuss HaMa'afilim -- those who insisted upon entering Eretz Yisrael without permission. The Midrash Says (pages 182-183) presents a lengthy footnote in discussing HaMa'afilim. The footnote states that each generation has had its Ma'afilim -- those who insist on following their own views, considering them superior to those voiced by Torah leaders. The Torah warns that disregard for Torah opinion, such as by the Ma'afilim, creates a chilul Hashem and such undertakings are self-destructive. The footnote presents as an example, the secular Jewish leadership's defiance of Torah leaders near the conclusion of WWII, when they opted to support redemption of the land and to reject the "old-fashioned Torah-way of bribing Gentiles to save Jewish lives" when the possibility existed to ransom large numbers of Jews for cash. As a consequence, "the Zionist and Reform leaders are directly responsible for sending their brothers to their deaths in the gas chambers." (From testimony at the Eichmann trial) Another such example presented in the footnote speaks of the "problem of relinquishing or fighting for 'disputed' [sic] territories." Here, there is a parenthesized note as follows: "Halacha does not approve of sacrificing human lives for the sake of nationalistic principles. It takes into consideration Pikuach Nefesh, regard for human life, above territories."
There are rabbinic psakim regarding Pikuach Nefesh issues. But I find it unlikely that after succeeding governments of the state have repeatedly bowed at the altar of "land for peace " (??) only to suffer more and more bloodshed, loss of hundreds of lives and thousands of injured via drive-by shootings and stonings of automobiles and buses, car bombings, Islamikazi suicide bombings, etc., that there could be serious discussion of relinquishing parts of our undisputed, divinely-given land in the name of Pikuach Nefesh. And so it is that these latter day false spies and fool-hardy Ma'afilim insisted first on an 'Oslo process' and putting weapons in the hands of avowed enemies of B'nai Yisrael who were/are bent on our destruction and eradication, while proclaiming, Neville Chamberlain-style, that "peace is at hand."
Then, when the chickens of Oslo "came home to roost" before the eyes of all of B'nai Yisrael and the concept is proven bankrupt, the incumbent prime minister proclaims his support for a "palestinian [sic] state". And so, Arik Sharon has put his "heckshir", his "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" on "the Roadmap", the cynical new euphemism for "reverse transfer."
"Oh but we must, for we are so small, we can never stand up to the world. Stand up to Dubya, to the hundreds of millions of Arabs? We are so small and so addicted to the bosom of American aid. We just can't break the habit. For if we do, what will become of us economically?" We just can't force ourselves to replace micro-managed socialism by creating a viable free-market economy with incentives for business growth and resultant jobs. We just can't break up the systemic political graft, corruption, bureaucracy, protekzia and yes, the "sacred-cow" of the Histadrut too. Our leaders are the latter day, self-perceived grasshoppers.
But, truth be known, the goal of the proponents of the "Roadmap", a "pa [sic] state," is -- make no mistake, one thing and one thing only -- the separation of B'nai Yisrael from her Jewish roots -- the rich history and spirituality to be found in every inch of Eretz Yisrael. There you have it, today's political leadership is, by and large, the latter day spies. Been there, done that.
When my mind comes to focus on contemporary times and parallels with B'nai Yisrael in Bamidbar, I contemplate about who today's true Jewish leadership is and should be and recall my readings of the recent history of Medinat Yisrael -- the police riots, billy-club beatings, sedition trials, dirty tricks, entrapments and false accusations that are pervasive in this modern day effete, micro-managed regime, which sought/seeks to crush and squelch Jewish spirituality and expression.
I recall the Jewish Leadership that has endured and graduated from suffering police billy-club beatings, interrogations, false arrests, sedition trials and administrative detentions to contesting the leadership of a major political party - simply because they love B'nai Yisrael too much not to try to intercede with Hashem on their behalf.
May we strive to perfect our internal and private middot and drachim - modesty, humility, and our other mitzvot, gemilut chasadim, tzedakah, total honesty, pureness of motivation and ahavat chinom for our fellow Jews and for kol Klal Yisrael on all levels -- personal, business, learning, etc. If we will care enough about our brother to help him and treat him, at all levels -- b'derech, at business, at home -- as we would want to be treated ourselves, and if we finally recognize that the emet of the unity of B'nai Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael overrides the various agendas, then Arafat and the Arabs, Dubya, Cheney, Zinni, Powell, and Clinton before them, and yes, even the small minority of self-styled Israeli elitists who currently run the media and institutions here, are all as nothing. If we will all accept Yiddishkeit each day as if we were all Gerim and as if Yiddishkeit was brand new, then we'll be zocha to have our tefillah reach Shemayim, unimpeded, ungarbled. As Rabbi Moshe Ungar would say each Thursday evening at his Gemara Shiur back in Phildelphia, in "the old country", then we'll be zocha to demand, compel Hashem to do "what he wants to do, to bring us the Moshiach and the Ge'ula Shlaima, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhay v'yameinu -- speedily, in our time"; like Achshav -- immediately, like chik chak, etmol!
Moshe Burt is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.