web analytics
November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 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.

This concept is critical to understanding many life situations.

For instance, imagine a divorced man who remarries and begins a new life. Now with greater maturity, he looks back and recognizes that his first marriage fell apart because of his temper. Yet he also sees divine intervention orchestrating the events that led to the breakup. Things happened in such a coordinated manner – Hashem was right there, controlling it all.

So is he responsible for the divorce or was it the will of Hashem? Is he accountable for his children being brought up in a broken home or was that part of Hashem’s plan?

The answer is both. One is the reason; the other is the cause. It was his lack of self-control that caused his marriage to fail and, as such, he is responsible for the results. At the same time, it was the will of Hashem that it should happen. This is what Hashem felt was best for him and for everyone else involved.

We mortals have very limited sight, but we need to broaden our perspective and recognize that while Hashem runs this world, we are still given free will and are responsible for the choices we make.

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
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Judaism Stories
PTI-103114

People love their GPS; just type in the address and it tells you exactly how to get to where you want to go.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

In the same way as a married woman is precluded from marrying another man without a get, so too is this widow prohibited from marrying another man without chalitzah.

Daf-Yomi-logo

The Ban Of The Communities
‘Impaired Chalitzah’
(Yevamos 26b)

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

“My mother raised us to independence, all of us,” Rivka says, which certainly plays itself out in the fact that all three children have taken a different path.

“ ‘We’re almost out of stamps,’ I said. ‘I’ll be happy to run over to the post office and pick up a supply.’ ”

Bris Bein Habesarim affirmed that Hashem gave the land to Avraham’s children. It does not specify for how long. It did not guarantee the Jewish people eternal ownership of the land

According to the Raavad if one who is uncircumcised breaks something he will be exempt from paying for it since he was chayav kares at the same time as he was obligated to repay for the item he broke.

Why does Hebrew refer to mothers-in-law as “sunshine” when society often calls them the opposite?

Having herself been victimized by Pharoah, Sarah should have been more sensitive to Hagar.

Avram’s father was not impressed with the cleverness of his son. In fact, he was so unimpressed that he took him to Nimrod the king, who pronounced him an enemy of the state and attempted to execute him.

How do the stories in Lech Lecha help us understand the central tension of Abraham’s life, legacy?

Abraham did not govern society but instead was the representative of God’s kingdom on earth.

Hagar grossly miscalculated her own merits and demonstrated a serious lack of gratitude for Sarai.

Noach was the lonely man of faith living in a depraved world, full of wickedness.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

Avram’s father was not impressed with the cleverness of his son. In fact, he was so unimpressed that he took him to Nimrod the king, who pronounced him an enemy of the state and attempted to execute him.

The-Shmuz

Strict din demands perfection. There is no room for shortcomings and no place for excuses; you are responsible.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

When Hashem formed man, He gave him the keys to Creation. As the Midrash tells us, Hashem said to Adam, “This is your world now. You are in charge of it; take care that you don’t destroy it.”

Imagine a man who, after having a few too many drinks, gets into his car and begins driving. It takes a while before he is pulled over, but finally the police arrest him, and he stands trial for driving while intoxicated.

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

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?

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: