Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shelach

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

The parsha portion of tonight's shiur focused on the story of the meraglim - the spies.

Chazal tell us that the meraglim were tzaddikim when they were chosen. Furthermore, R' Frand explained that the fact that the meraglim chose to be spies shows that they were tzaddikim. Indeed, the job of spy was a dangerous job and still the men accepted the mission.

R' Frand quoted the Zohar which states that the reason that the spies came back with a bad report on the land of Israel, was because they knew that they would lose their job as leaders when the Jews emigrated to Israel. However, even though they knew that they would be fired, they still accepted the mission.

R' Frand then posited - if you knew the mission was dangerous and that you would be fired at the completion of the job - why would you accept the mission?

R' Frand answered that the reason they took the mission was because they thought that they could overcome the issues. Moshe Rabeinu had his doubts that the meraglim would come back all right. We see that Moshe gave Yehoshua a beracha to save him and the Kalev went and prayed by the graves of tzaddikim. However, the meraglim believed that they would be able to look past the potential problems. Unfortunately, the meraglim were unable to separate from their agenda and their report was colored by their understanding that when the Jews would come to Israel, the meraglim would lose their position of power.

R' Frand then further explored the meraglim's speech. He noted that the beginning of the report was all true - the people are very mighty there. Kalev then attempted to quiet the spies by telling them that they were wrong - Hashem will help us overcome.

At this juncture, the meraglim began to give editorial comments and they started to speak ill about the land and to make up facts. Why? Because the desire to win and be right is an incredibly strong yetzer hara. When Kalev told them they were wrong, their immediate reaction was to want to show Kalev they were right and to "win" the argument. So they began to lie in order to "win."

R' Frand then quoted a Chidushei Harim who notes that the haftorah of Shelach also involves spies - the ones sent by Yehoshua. The haftorah refers to the spies as pottery (cheres) which we learn meant that they went around as "pottery salesman."

Why did the spies chose the cover of pottery saleman? We know that pottery differs from metal in that pottery can only become tamei if the tumah enters the object. However, metal vessels can become tamei just by contact with the outside of the object.

The Chidushei Harim ties the two points together by explaining that pottery has no intrinsic value other than its ability to retain what is stored in the pottery. On the other hand, metal has a value in and of itself. By choosing a cover of pottery salesman, the meraglim were reminding themselves that their mission was the only thing of importance and that their personal sense of self worth could not be allowed to infere. As such, it should not be surprising that these spies were successful.

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