Rabbi Shmuel Knopfler
The main theme of our Parsha is obviously the sin of the Meraglim (spies).
To understand this, we must understand the puzzling sin of the Meraglim. The Meraglim were surely “The heads of Bnei Yisra’el”, as the Torah says. The people listed here are those distinguished from the rest of the nation, because of their special status and standing in Torah – two of the most famous among them serving as examples for
Kalev ben Y’funeh, and Yehoshua bin Nun.
It is a collection of great individuals, who we would describe as “G’dolei ha’Dor – The Giants of the Generation.”
How did it happen that those Gedolim made this huge error? Why didn’t those spiritual leaders want to enter Eretz Yisrael? After witnessing all of the miraculous redemption from Egypt, after Pharaoh, “the king of the world”, was defeated, the least that one would expect of those leaders
would be for them to believe in the power of Hashem and to trust Him to fulfill His promise of Eretz Yisrael!?
The spies were indeed Gedolim. They had very good intentions. They were very comfortable with the spiritual life in the desert. Having heavenly bread – manna, each and every day, revealing the Shechina clearly, following the fire and the cloud pillars, those are benefits, which are not easy to give up. The spies were sure that for Am Yisrael, which was totally immersed in a spiritual environment at the
time, entering Eretz Yisrael would be a disaster.
Surely, they believed that they would defeat the enemies in Eretz Yisrael with the help of Hashem, but for that there is a need to establish an army. Also, there is a necessity to establish political and economical systems, as well as expectations to settle Eretz Yisrael – the land that is flowing milk and honey. If Am Yisrael will have to deal with all those tasks- who will sit and study Torah? We will lose our spiritual level!!!
Therefore, the spies decided to do Hashem a “favor” – let’s stay here in the Galut where we can serve you much better than from Eretz Yisrael – it is for the sake of the Torah!!!
The root of this sin was the lack of ability to integrate heaven and earth. The Torah of Eretz Yisrael is the Torah that provides us with the skills to spiritually uplift matters which are mundane.
In Eretz Yisrael the Avoda (labor) is integral part of Torah fulfillment. The letter and the spirit of the Torah cannot be achieved at its optimal level without the Avoda component. Hashem prefers for us to elevate the bread that comes from the ground – המוציא לחם מן הארץ – to our eating heavenly bread – the manna.
Thus it was so important to receive the new Mitzvot right after the sin. Hashem wanted to comfort Bnei Yisrael for losing the heavenly virtues, and therefore provided them with substitutes. The Hafrashat Chalah enables as to take earthly bread and transform it into a heavenly one. The Nesachim are the substitute for the heavenly well, and the Tzitzit is the compensation for the heavenly clouds of glory (ענני הכבוד). The ultimate way of Avodat Hashem is indeed to live in a
heavenly manner but while been grounded and attached to earth – by thevirtue of Eretz Yisrael, the land of Torah V’Avodah.
As it says in the Torah ...וְכִי-תָבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, וּנְטַעְתֶּם ...
when you enter Eretz Yisrael you should immediately plant for a full synergy between Gashmiyut & Ruchaniyut.
That is the quintessence of our mission.
B'Ahavat HaTorah V'Haaretz