• Maverick (Avigdor) Peters

Parshas Shelach 2018: Lesson In Bitachon

The B’nai Yisroel (children of Israel) reached a place called Kadesh enroute to the promised land and from there we dispatched twelve individuals (one leader from each tribe) to scope out the land of Canaan (Israel) before entering. The meraglim (spies) managed to scout out Canaan checking out its populace, dwelling places, and soil.

They returned to the people after forty days of spying, bringing with them abnormally large clusters of fruit as evidence to the robust fertility of the land. Ten of the meraglim however, claimed it would be impossible to conquer the land as it was too well fortified. The other two meraglim, Kalev (Caleb) and Yehoshua (Joshua) disassociated themselves from the other’s pessimistic report and encouraged the people to march on into the land as commanded by Hashem. Unfortunately, the B’nai Yisroel could only focus on the negative report and “freaked out”. An open rebellion broke out and Hashem was angered. So much so that Hashem intended to wipe out the entire people for their lack of faith and begin anew, starting with Moshe. However, Moshe pleaded with Hashem and interceded successfully.

Consequently, while the people were not destroyed they were punished with an additional year for each day the meraglim were conjuring up a negative report about the land. Their espionage lasted forty days and so we were punished with the burden of wandering in the desert for forty years.

The date of their fateful error was on the 9th day of the month of Av or Tisha B’Av. A day which forever became a day of continued tragedy for our people. Included in the list of tragedies are, the destruction of BOTH batei mikdash (temples), the fall of the city of Beitar, and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (and others).

Why was the sin of the meraglim so grave and why did that one misdeed lead to a future full of tragedy?

Until the people had urged Moshe to send spies, and until the spies had returned with a negative report, the B’nai Yisroel had acquired the attitude of “na’aseh v’nishmah” (we will do and we will listen). Meaning they had completely accepted Hashem’s leadership and commandments with out any questions or doubts.

It wasn't until the meraglim had reported what they saw that contorted the minds of the people. Doubt and question not only entered our minds but consumed us to the point of fear and tears. What happened was they lost their basic level of bitachon (trust) in Hashem. They couldn't accept His word anymore without proof.

Bitachon is something that every Jew MUST posses. Bitachon is the one factor that sets us above as a nation. Science builds on theories backed with (what appears to be) proofs. Judaism stems from the utmost belief and trust in the Almighty that everything comes from Him.

Often times, Hashem brings about difficult circumstances in a person’s life to make that person aware that he/she is lacking in bitachon. We need to make sure that our bitachon lies in Hashem as He is the source of everything! This parsha while tragic, is a great lesson in bitachon.

Have a wonderful Shabbos and weekend!

Maverick V. Peters

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