web analytics
December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Judaism » Torah »

The Sin of the Spies – Perspective

New Olim

Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FlashLASH90

In my experience as a Synagogue Rabbi, I found that so much of life is about perspective. Helping congregants deepen their commitment to Judaism, deepen their relationships with one another, I learned that often fear paralyzes people from achieving their goals. I also learned that a positive attitude makes for a richer, fuller, more meaningful life.

The above might seem obvious – but it wasn’t obvious to the Ten Spies who returned from the Land with a negative report. They were the leaders of the Jewish Nation: “All distinguished men; heads of the Children of Israel were they” (Num. 13:3). But their lack of faith and their lack of vision brought about consequences that, according to the Talmud, we still suffer from today (See Ta’anit 29a).

What did they do that was so wrong, it warranted forty years of wandering in the desert? What was so egregious, that turned the 9th of Av, the day they returned with their report, into a day of tragedy and mourning for the rest of Jewish History?

In their first report, the Spies relate:

We arrived at the land to which you have sent us, and indeed it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. But – the people that dwells in the land is powerful, the cities are large, and we also so there the offspring of the giant (Num. 13:27-28).

With the word “but,” they begin their editorial. They are no longer objective. They bring in their negativity and project their fears. They see themselves as “grasshoppers” (v. 33), in the eyes of the inhabitants of the Land.

While the Spies tell the Jewish People, “We cannot ascend” (v. 31), Caleb tells them, “We shall surely ascend and conquer it, for we can surely do it!” (v. 30) For the Spies, it is a land that “devours it inhabitants,” (v. 32) but for Joshua and Caleb, “the Land is very, very good” (Num. 14:8).

Twelve Spies went to scout out the Land. Ten maligned the Land, while two defended it. But they all saw the same land! To see the Land as an insurmountable challenge or, to see it as a goodly Land, is a choice. It’s a matter of perspective.

This week, while walking through Shuk Machaneh Yehudah, Jerusalem’s open air market, I noticed some unusually large fresh figs. They were bright green, and as big as apples. At first I didn’t know what they were. After doing a double take, I purchased the fruit, which turned out to be sweet and delicious – the best figs I have ever eaten. I was reminded of how the Spies, “…cut from there a vine with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole, by two, and of the pomegranates and of the figs” (13:23). A famous interpretation has it that the grapes were so large they had to be carried “on a pole, by two.” They carried this mutant fruit back, “with the intent to spread slander, ‘Just as the fruit is unusual, so are its people unusual” (Rashi, ad loc.). But the Spies had a choice. Instead of seeing these large fruits as “unusual,” they could have seen them as a product of Hashem’s blessing – a gift from God; a symbol of sustenance and abundance. As Rashi emphasizes, it was all a matter of intent. The Spies chose to see the negative.

Let’s not confuse a positive outlook with naïveté, or being a Pollyanna. One can look through rose-colored glasses and still recognize the problems. But one who posses a deep faith, who truly believes that “whatever the Merciful One does is for the good” (Berachot 60b), will see the good in the vicissitudes of life. The challenges of life are obstacles to overcome and lessons to be learned. The Sin of the Spies was so egregious, because rather than possessing the faith and strength to recognize the Divine blessings of the Land, with all of its challenges, they chose to color their report with their fears and negativity.

The message of the Biblical account of the Spies has tremendous relevance today, here in the modern State of Israel. With a nuclear threat from Iran, enemy states on its borders, the ever-constant fear of terrorism, and pressure from the International Community, Israel is not without its challenges. But it’s also the ‘Start Up Nation,’ with a healthy, growing economy when most of the world’s economies are failing. It is at the forefront of many technologies and industries, research and development. It is a country that is hated by the world, yet continues to shower the world with acts of kindness.

About the Author: Rabbi Shimshon HaKohen Nadel lives and teaches in Jerusalem.


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 Sin of the Spies – Perspective”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
King Abdullah II
Intel: Abdullah — the Last Hashemite King of Jordan
Latest Judaism Stories
Hanukiyah created by world famous Venetian Glass Blower

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

Lessons-in-Emunah-new

She was determined that the Law class was Dina’s best chance of finding a husband, and that was the real reason she wanted her to go to college.

Lessons-in-Emunah-new

But who would have ever guessed that Hashem would unlock the key to the birth on same day as the English anniversary of our wedding.

Vayigash_lecture

Rabbi Fohrman explores the question of how God communicates with us today.

A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!

What did Yehudah say that was so effective that it convinced Yosef to make himself known?

What does the way we count the days of Chanukah come to teach us about living in the present?

Israel projects global material illumination not always the light of “morality” meant by the Navi

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

More Articles from Rabbi Shimshon HaKohen Nadel
The Vilna Gaon

All secular wisdom is essential for our Holy Torah and is included in it.

Nadel-050313

A flag with the Star of David hung prominently in the synagogues of Prague since the mid-14th century, with the approval of their great rabbis.

Minutes after candle-lighting, sirens rang out in Jerusalem, disturbing the peace and tranquility ushered in by Shabbat. Earlier that day, my wife and I assured our parents that we are far from the rockets in our home in Har Nof, a quiet suburb nestled in the Jerusalem Forest.

In February, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled the Tal Law discriminatory and unconstitutional in a vote of six to three. The law, which provides exemptions for young men studying in yeshiva full time, has been the subject of much criticism and controversy.

The message of the Biblical account of the Spies has tremendous relevance today, here in the modern State of Israel. With a nuclear threat from Iran, enemy states on its borders, the ever-constant fear of terrorism, and pressure from the International Community, Israel is not without its challenges. But it’s also the ‘Start Up Nation,’ with a healthy, growing economy when most of the world’s economies are failing.

In the early days of Statehood, when Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, the famed Chazon Ish, and other leading rabbis reached a compromise with David Ben Gurion to provide military exemptions for yeshiva students, only some 400 students were exempted. Writing about a Milchemet Mitzvah, the Chazon Ish himself recognized that “if there is a need for them, they must come to the aid of their brethren.”

It has been said ‘It is easier to take the Jew out of the Exile, than to take the Exile out of the Jew’. While in Egypt, the Jewish people could not even hear Hashem’s promise of Redemption because of their “shortness of spirit.” Their bondage wasn’t merely a physical bondage, but a mental one. And so, while still in Egypt, Hashem began the process of taking the Jew out of the psychology of Exile, ridding him of his slave mentality.

With thousands of Haggadot in print, it can be overwhelming to decide what to buy and what to use at the Seder. Just like kashering the home for Pesach requires preparation, so too the material for the Seder. And according to the investment is the return. Below are twenty of my favorite Haggadot.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/the-sin-of-the-spies-perspective/2012/06/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: