web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Reason And The Cause

The-Shmuz

“A day for a year, a day for a year” – Bamidbar 14:34

One of most tragic events in the history of our people was the sin of the miraglim (spies). When we left Mitzrayim we were exalted and untouchable, feared by all the nations, respected by the world. Forty-nine days later we gathered at the foot of Har Sinai to accept the Torah. The plan was for the Chosen People to then march right into Eretz Yisrael. Had the events transpired as planned, the conquest would have taken root so deeply that we never would have been thrown out.

But all of this was to change. The course of our nation’s history, as well as that of humanity’s, was altered by the report of the spies. “The land of Israel is occupied by giants. There are powerful nations living in fortified cities.” In the minds of the spies, we would have been slaughtered wholesale, man, woman and child. So, to turn the nation against the idea, they brought back fruit to show that just as the produce of the land is gigantic so too are the people. The implication was simple – if we attack, we will be lost.

Their plot succeeded. The people cried out “let us go back to Mitzrayim. And because of this they were decreed to wander in the desert for forty years. A day for a year, a day for a year” (Bamidbar 14:34).

It is clear that this generation wasn’t allowed to enter the land of Israel because of their lack of trust in HASHEM.

The only problem is that this isn’t correct. The Dos Zakainim quotes a midrash that says that when the Jews first left Mitzrayim Hashem said, “If I take them directly into the land, each man will be busy – this one with his vineyard, this one with his field…. They won’t have time to study the Torah. Better, I should lead them into the desert. They will spend forty years eating manna and drinking water from the rock. That way, the Torah will have a chance to settle within them.”

The midrash is saying that the reason they had to wait forty years wasn’t a punishment. It was for their good. How do we understand that in light of the fact that it we are told here that it was a punishment for their lack of bitachon.

The answer to this can best be understood with an example.

Looking for a Scapegoat

Niron, the general, was sent by Rome to destroy the Temple. He knew that Hashem protects his people, and he was afraid to attack. To determine whether he would be victorious, he used divination. First he shot an arrow toward Jerusalem, and it flew straight. Then he shot arrows in every other direction, and in mid-flight all the arrows turned toward Jerusalem. Next, he stopped a young child and asked, “What did you learn in school today?” The boy quoted the verse, “And I will give the revenge against Edom into the hands of my people.” Niron said to himself, “Hashem wishes to destroy his Temple, and He wants to wipe His hands on me.” Instead of attacking, he ran away and converted. From his lineage came Rebbe Meir (Gittin 56a).

What happened here was that Niron saw the truth. He understood that Hashem wanted the Beis HaMikdash to be destroyed, and He was looking for someone to be the fall guy. That person would be allowed to burn the Temple, which would accomplish Hashem’s will, but then he would be punished for the act because he chose to do it. Niron was wise enough to recognize the handwriting on the wall, and decided not to be a pawn.

This seems to be the answer to the midrash. Hashem wanted the Jews to learn Torah without distraction. For that to occur, they had to live separated and alone – in the desert. And that was a problem. “How can I take my people out of bondage and then leave them to wander in the desert without a home? I promised Abraham I would take them to a bountiful land.”

And so, if it could be, Hashem wanted them to spend the forty years in the desert, but couldn’t decree it. He was, in sense, looking for an excuse. Once the spies brought their false report and the people accepted it, Hashem had something to justify their not being taken straight to Israel. In reality, there were two layers to the decree – the reason and the cause. The reason Hashem wanted them to spend forty years in the desert was that it was good for them. The cause that made it come about was a punishment for the sin of the spies.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Reason And The Cause”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the UNGA, Sept. 29, 2014.
State Dept Press Corps Shapes US Response to Netanyahu’s UN Speech
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

The-Shmuz

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

How can the Torah expect me today, thousands of years after the mitzvahs were given, to view each mitzvah as if I’m fulfilling it for the first time?

A replica reminds a person of the original. Granted it is in miniature, and granted no one would mistake it for the original, but it carries, almost in caricature form, some semblance of the original.

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-reason-and-the-cause/2013/05/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: