Shelach: Challah is Different

The result is of our own creation.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7
Those of us who had the privilege to be students of my revered rebbe and teacher, HaRav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, z.t.l., are familiar with his brilliant analysis of our parsha, Shelach. The Rav traced the events beginning with Beha'alotkha and ending in Korach, which explain the sequence surrounding the story of the Meraglim. Needless to say, it is impossible to present them in the short space allotted for this Dvar Torah. I therefore have chosen to present one point of the Rav’s discussion, which I believe is very relevant to our situation in Eretz Yisrael today.

The Rav, z.t.l., asked why HaShem chose to command the mitzvah of challah after the events of the Meraglim. Would it not have been more appropriate to place this mitzvah together with the other tithes that HaShem commanded us to give - namely, Terumot and Ma'asrot?

The difference between them is that while we plant and reap the fruits of the earth, the finished product is not up to us, but to HaShem; whereas, in the case of challah, we take the raw materials with which HaShem endowed us and we produce the finished product. Terumot and Ma'asrot are a chovat hakarka, a requirement of the growth, which HaShem produces. Challah is a requirement of the results of our own creation.

The Rav told the story from the Midrash which recounts the discussion between Turnus Rufus and Rabbi Akiva. Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva: If HaShem detests the uncircumcised, then why did He not create man
Prosperity is earned.
circumcised from birth? Rabbi Akiva answered him by asking him what is preferable, the grain or the cookie. Turnus Rufus replied that the product was more desirable. Rabbi Akiva then responded that we do not find cookies growing on trees. HaShem provides us with the raw materials and it is our responsibility to seize the opportunity to use these materials in order to create. So it is with circumcision.

The mitzvah of challah teaches us that prosperity is earned based on our willingness to share the product of our efforts.

So it is with Eretz Yisrael. The Meraglim failed to understand that the segulah - uniqueness - of Eretz Yisrael should be united with the segulah of Am Yisrael. Moshe Rabbeinu wanted the Meraglim to see the connection between Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael. It is only through this awareness that Eretz Yisrael becomes our eretz zavat chalav u'dvash. The effort that we put into creating a unique Eretz Yisrael will determine whether Eretz Yisrael becomes our land and heritage.
Rabbi Walfish and his wife made Aliyah in 1994 from Teaneck, New Jersey. Rabbi Walfish served as Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America in the United States and is currently giving shiurim in Israel. He also serves as President of Otzar HaPoskim and is Chairman of the Board of the Rabbinical Council of America Yeshivot in Israel.

The foregoing article was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.