Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shelach

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts 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.

R' Frand's first vort was based on a Medrash which tied the sending of the spies to a pasuk in Yeshaya which states that the vegetation may dry out, but Hashem's word is forever. It then linked the two to a mashal about a king who was travelling and came across a friend. He told the friend, if you walk with me to my destination, I will reward you. The man agreed and began walking with the king, but then died before he reached the destination. The king then found the man's son and said to him, although I promised this to your father if he reached the destination, which he did not, I will still give you the present. The Medrash taught that the nimshal was Hashem giving the land of Israel to the Jews, saying although I asked your forefather Avraham to walk with me, I will still give you the land as I keep my word.

There is an obvious question to be asked about this Medrash as the two situations are different. Hashem promised Avraham that He would give the land of Israel to Avraham and his descendants, so how was this a gift that was not obligated?

R' Frand answered by quoting the Avnei Nezer who explained that the Meraglim created a sea change for the Jewish people which severed our connection to Avraham. When Hashem asked Avraham to do something, Avraham responded "Yes Sir." The Jews (until now) had followed Hashem's directive to go to the land of Israel on blind faith. But now they began to strategize and wanted to use spies to check out the land before they would move there. In so doing they broke their connection as Avraham's children and the worthy inheritors. As such, Hashem told them, I will give you the land to keep My promise to Avraham.

The second vort also was linked to a Medrash which tied the sending of the spies to a statement that "like vinegar for the mouth and smoke for the eyes, laziness bothers the person who sends a messenger." 

The connection between this statement and the spies is puzzling. The meraglim had many flaws, but there is no indicia that they dragged their feet or were otherwise lazy!

R' Frand answered this question by quoting R' Shraga Grosbart (sp?) who explains that there are two forms of laziness. There is physical laziness, such as one who does not want to get out of bed. But there is also intellectual laziness, embodied by someone who does not want to think. When the meraglim saw all the deaths of the residents while on their journey, they immediately thought - the land must be toxic! But had they used their intellect, they would have realized that this was the hand of Hashem, showing them that the giant inhabitants were not immortal. 

R' Frand also linked this to a famous Zohar which stated that the spies' motivation was their fear of losing their positions of power when the Jews would eventually enter the land of Israel. This fear of loss of Kavod colored their perceptions and made it that much easier to not think hard about what they were seeing.

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