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ויאמרו איש אל אחיו נתנה ראש ונשובה מצרימה

So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader, and let us return to Egypt.” (14:4)

The chet meraglim, sin of the spies, was the transgression that put an end to the possibility that the Jews of that generation would settle in Eretz Yisrael. This was a generation that had survived the Egyptian bondage, were privy to the miracles of the Ten Plagues, were liberated from Egypt and experienced the Splitting of the Red Sea; later, they stood at Har Sinai and witnessed the greatest Revelation in history, as they received the Torah. Yet, this generation was barred from entering Eretz Yisrael. It would be their children, instead, who would enter and settle in the land….

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ויבכו העם בלילה ההוא

The people wept that night. (14:1)

Klal Yisrael wept bitterly on that fateful night. The meraglim incited their fears, and their emotions broke through in profuse weeping. Unfortunately, their weeping was unwarranted, since the spies were spewing nothing but lies which were meant to inject fear in the hearts of the people. Had their faith and trust in Hashem been realized, their reaction would have been completely different. Hashem promised to transform their unwarranted weeping into warranted weeping, and we now commemorate Tishah B’Av, our day of national mourning. It is incredible that all of this tragedy was the result of baseless weeping. Understandably, one should…

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. ויהס כלב את העם

And Kalev silenced the people. (13:30)

Some of the greatest tragedies result from petty jealousy. At times, one misplaced word purposely rendered to cast aspersion on someone can have deleterious ramifications – for the slanderer. The spies returned with their slanderous report concerning Eretz Yisrael. Yehoshua and Kalev knew these were lies. They attempted to quiet the nation, to get them to listen to reason. Kalev succeeded in getting their attention. The Talmud (Sotah 35a) posits that Yehoshua made a futile attempt, but the people refused to listen to him. They said, Dein rosh ktiya yimallel, “he whose head is cut off is speaking.” This is…

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שלח לך אנשים ויתורו את ארץ כנען

Send forth men, if you please, and let them spy out the land of Canaan. (13:2)

In a shmuess, ethical discourse, he gave in memory of his father, Horav Eliyahu Svei, zl, attempts to show how generations decline spiritually. His father survived World War I, during which Jewish life drastically changed. Entire communities were obliterated. Extreme hunger became a way of life. People were compelled to eat grass just to have some nutrients in their bodies. He studied in Kollel Slabodka until the material pressures were too much to handle. The next step was to move to America, which in and of itself was a spiritual challenge of immense proportion. Nonetheless, he lived in this country…

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שלח לך אנשים ויתרו את ארץ כנען

Send forth men, if you please, and let them spy out the Land of Canaan. (13:2)

The parsha begins with the acquiescence of Moshe Rabbeinu to the Jewish People’s request to send a reconnaissance mission comprised of twelve representatives – one from each tribe — to gather information concerning the land. We all know that this mission ended in disaster — for which we still pay to this very day. The spies returned, and all but two slandered the land and incited the people to severe hopelessness, culminating in unwarranted weeping. That night was Tishah B’Av, which, as a result of their weeping, became our day of national mourning, a day of warranted weeping over the…

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ונהי בעינינו כחגבים וכן היינו בעיניהם

We were like grasshoppers in our eyes and so were we in their eyes. (13:33)

When the meraglim, spies, returned from their mission, the nation debated their negative report. They ruminated back and forth: Could they triumph over the giant Canaanites or would they be defeated? The meraglim were emphatic that they had no hope for success. The people listened to them, and they began their bechiyah shel chinam, unwarranted weeping – a weeping for which we have been punished with a bechiyah l’doros, weeping for generations. As a consequence, that night, which was the Ninth of Av, became the precursor of our national day of mourning. What did the meraglim fear? What was it…

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היש בה עץ אם אין

Are there trees in it or not? (13:20)

Was Moshe Rabbeinu interested in the land’s vegetation? Rashi explains that Moshe’s inquiry concerning a tree was an allusion to a tzaddik. He wanted the spies to discern whether a righteous man was in the Land, in whose merit its inhabitants would be spared. The righteous activities of tzaddikim are undisputed. If one were asked to paint a portrait of a tzaddik, he would probably depict a man with a saintly countenance, bent over a pile of sefarim, Torah volumes. Some tzaddikim are ordinary people, but have earned tzaddik status because they are mezakei ha’rabim, bring merit upon many people….

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שלח לך אנשים ויתרו את ארץ כנען

Send forth men and let them spy out the land of Canaan. (13:2)

Moshe Rabbeinu relayed to Hashem the nation’s request for spies to reconnoiter Eretz Yisrael. Hashem told Moshe to send them. If the nation insisted on sending spies, it was best that Moshe be involved in the decision concerning whom to send. For if the nation were to act on its own, without direction from its spiritual leadership, it would be tantamount to rebellion. Furthermore, a nation without leadership is more like 600,000 leaders, each with his own opinion, acting independently of the other. Obviously, they were deficient in their emunah, faith, in Hashem. He had promised to lead them into…

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שלח לך אנשים

Send forth men, if you please. (13:2)

Rashi notes the words Sh’lach lecha, “Send for yourself,” suggesting that the lecha, for yourself, is superfluous. The pasuk should have said, Shlach anashim; “Send men.” What is added by lecha? Rashi explains that Hashem was intimating that He had not commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to send spies: Ani eini metzavecha; “I am not commanding you to do this. It is up to you – if you want to do it – then you may send.” Sometimes a person predetermines his decisions. He is not going to change, to give in, to concede that he might be in error. Nothing will…

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כל נשיא בהם

Everyone a leader among them. (13:2)

The word Nasi, prince, leader, is comprised of four letters which, when separated, make up two words which are opposites of one another. Nasi – nun, sin, yud, aleph: within these four letters are the words yeish, which means “there is,” and ayin, “there is naught.” Otzar HaChaim sees this as an allusion to the quality of a Nasi’s character. The Nasi who considers himself to be a yeish (there is; he is something), in actuality, has nothing; he is an ayin. The Nasi who views himself through the eyes of humility, who sees himself as an ayin, is thus…

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