Much has been said about the spies Moshe sent to scout the Land of Israel at the request of the Jewish people. Moshe asked them to survey the land, its strengths and weaknesses. Upon their return, they gave a mixed report. First they described the virtues of the land. They then described how powerful the inhabitants were and how fortified their cities were. These words were clearly intended to frighten the Jewish people.
Entries in Shlach (7)
The knowledge that there is a higher power which controls this world is not just meant to guide our lives in the mundane world of commerce and regular routines; it is also applicable to our observance of Torah and Mitzvos. This is seen clearly in the Mitzvah of tzitzis, a mitzvah that was given to serve as a constant reminder of our obligations to Hashem, even amidst all the distractions provided by the coarse and materialistic world around us
One of the most difficult stories in the Torah to comprehend concerns the spies handpicked by Moshe to scout the land of Canaan. Ten of the 12 spies gave a horribly slanderous report upon their return. Their negative depiction of the land caused nearly the entire male population of Jews to cry and spurn the gift of the Land of Desire that G-d had promised them. As a consequence of their rebellion, the spies died in a plague and the rest of the Jewish community, aged 20 and older, were destined to die in the desert while the conquest of the land was delayed for almost 40 years.
On one hand we see darkness, lies and pain. On the other, we are witness to unprecedented goodness, integrity, sincerity and consistency. If one may coin a phrase, we are living in the “Babylonian-Jerusalem Talmudic era,” where both dynamics co-exist. We must therefore uphold the Babylonian Talmud’s approach and cherish every bit of light that pierces through the darkness and encourage every gesture of good, no matter how lacking it might be in consistency and altruism. This will facilitate getting rid of the last vestiges of darkness that still prevails.
One Chassid wrote to me that from the time of the histalkus he has been extremely broken, and at times, when he is alone, he breaks down in tears… * What has been accomplished through his tears? Is this the Rebbe’s objective? Did he ask him to cry? * And in the meanwhile, the Rebbe’s shlichus has been neglected!
What the spies were lacking was the combination of truth with peace. They had the truth but not the peace. Therefore, their truth could not endure. Our generation—the last of exile—will rectify the deficiencies of the generation of the desert and we will enter into the Promised Land to enjoy its milk and honey (truth) synthesized with peace, with the imminent arrival of Moshiach and the true and complete (shleima cognate to the world shalom, peace) Redemption.
These people bring down terrible danger onto Jews and onto the Land. These people are the ‘demolishers and destroyers’ from amongst the Jewish people and of the land of Israel. Yet they shout “peace now.” There is nothing greater than peace, but G-d says, “The wicked have no peace [to offer]!”