Parashat Shelach

Parshat Shelach June 20, 2008

“Send people to the Land of Canaan”

The Land of Israel is the inheritance of our forefathers and was planned by Hashem for the Jewish people from the very beginning of time. It is the Land that Hashem oversees from the first day of the year to the last, a place of Divine destiny- the intended homeland for Israel. The question arises then, how can it be called Eretz Canaan? Canaan is the name of a foreign pagan tribe. There must be a purpose in using this name, hiding in fact the real substance of what this land really is. It is said about G-d, “Al tastir panecha”- “Do not hide your face”. This phenomenon may be compared to the virtues of Eretz Yisrael. Seeing is believing but what do we see? What do we look for? The genuine revelation of the Holy Land comes into view when it is called “Aretz”. Ergo, the torah in this passuk calls it “Eretz Canaan” as if it belonged to a foreign people. Now is the time to investigate, check and clarify. We are not spying here, but we are asking what is this “double identity”? The entire world, even today if not more so, stops a minute and thinks. The wicked blunder and deceive, confusing the facts. They say the Land belongs to someone else, that we have come and conquered it, when in truth it was designated for Am Yisrael the same day that Hashem looked into the torah and created the world. So, why Canaan?

This was the test of the spies.

The root of the sin of the spies was that they believed their mission was to conquer the Land from its inhabitants, the 7 nations. (Canaani, Perizzi, Chivi, Yevusi, Chitti, Amaleki…) The spies felt that the Land was strange to them. What did they see? Giants, huge fruit, many funerals and a base and lowly pagan people. There the people “sat”( superficially speaking) upon the Land. However, they had no internal contingency. “Veyashavtem Ba”- “And you will live IN the Land”-! The spies held by the saying “What you see is what you get”- instead of, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. How many of us do this all the time! Even those of us who live here and sacrifice a zillion things for it!

In the name of Harav Hillel Lieberman, HYD[see link] on parshat Shlach- Where does the word “spies” originate? Does it bring us to a dיjא vu of another story in our Torah? When Yosef Hatzaddik finally met with his brothers he said, “Meraglim Atem!”- “You are spies!” This was said because their attitude was one of strangeness to him. What, a brother doesn’t know a brother?” Come on! Instead of coming to him and belonging to him, they were strange. The spies (aside from Calev and Yehoshua) acted like outsiders instead of connecting in unity with the legacy. Calev and Yehoshua perceived the Land for what it was and called it The Land of Milk and Honey. The spies saw giants and Calev and Yehoshua saw a very very good Land. They saw that the Land itself raised a great and awesome people, all the more so if the intended people, Am Yisrael, would inherit it as Hashem planned, they would grow to be a great and mighty nation

May this be “mussar heskel” for all of us in all realms- This is the bottom line…

Shabbat Shalom- Leah Goldsmith

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