Devar Torah for Parshas Shelach Lecha 5781

Falling and Rising

In this week’s parsha, Shelach Lecha, Moses sends 12 leaders – 12 great men – to scope out the future Land of Israel and bring back reports of the people currently living there. Instead, the 12 men came back with a poor opinion of the land (actually, two of the men did not join the other 10), and this bad report caused the Jewish nation to cry, which resulted in not only 40 years in the desert, but was an underlying cause of future tragedies and exiles.

While there is a great deal to say on this topic, we can see that the greatest men of that generation went on a mission and failed.

My maggid shiur (the Rabbi who gives my Talmud class every day) said an interesting thought on this downfall. This was the greatest generation of Jews ever! You had some Jews, such as Moses and Aaron, who reached tremendous heights of holiness and spirituality that none of us will ever reach today.

Yet, there is an idea that people in our generation could still be greater. Not that we will reach higher levels that these great men, but that given our lowly surroundings, for us to just be “normal Jews” is a tremendous accomplishment! Perhaps even a bigger accomplishment than for Moses to rise up from the greatest generation ever. This is because every Jew today is surrounded by “woke” people demanding that he eat non-kosher food, do forbidden work on Shabbos, engage in forbidden sexual relationships, speak with an unclean mouth or speak on topics that are forbidden. And the list of demands doesn’t just stop there. Nor does a Jew face a demand once, and can then get on with his life; the demands are incessant.

Everyone rooted for Moses to become greater and greater. But poor little Moishy who lives in our generation doesn’t necessarily have that. So if he can overcome the challenges facing him – challenges which try to steer him off the proper path – his net accomplishment could be greater!

As for the leaders who fell, I heard from Rabbi Brog that one of the reasons they brought back a bad report on the Holy Land was that they felt that once everyone entered the land, these leaders would be out of a job and they would lose all the honor and respect that they were currently receiving. And in order to maintain this honor, they were willing to scheme to keep the people out of the Holy Land. In the end they gave up EVERYTHING in their feeble attempt to maintain their honor, and they fell from their incredibly high position to their deaths.

Two thoughts on the parsha.

Wishing you all a Good Shabbos!

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