Moving On Up – Weekly Words of Torah, Shelach 5773

Moving On Up

Insights into Parshat Shelach of Mr. Binyomin Barman of Yeshivat Sha’alvim, by Rav Re’uven Ungar of Sha’alvim.

Parshat Shelach begins with Hashem’s instruction to Moshe to send spies to Eretz Yisrael. As we read further, we see that the spies failed. What was their mistake? The Lubavitcher Rebbe suggests that the mistake of the spies was how they thought it was better to be in the desert rather than in the land of Israel. How could they think that?

The Jews had the Manna and the Torah and they thought that was essentially what we needed. The spies thought that if Klal Yisrael had to go to Israel, they would have to focus on other things aside from Torah. The Lubavitcher Rebbe concludes that the spies’ mistake was that the real Mitzvah was to work IN Israel while still connecting to Hashem both in the spiritual and physical aspects.

Rav Yehuda Turetsky conveyed the following thought in the name of Rav Chaim Steimetz: if you look in Rashi (13:6), we see how the spies behaved before they sinned. Were they good guys or not? Externally, we see how they were destined to fail. However, at the time the spies were sent, we see from Rashi how they were honorable people. Rav Steimetz suggests that the spies were good people. Good people have one flaw. Good people assume because they are good now that they will always stay like that and remain a good person. The problem with the spies was that they assumed they would stay good afterwards as well.

There is a very important lesson we can derive from this. Even if we think we are good people now, we need to continue to grow. If we are not on top of our lives to make sure we are always working on improving ourselves, then we can clobber down. Many note that the Mizbeach has a ramp leading up to it. Why is this so? When you are going up, you are only going up. You are unable to stand still on the slope. If I slow down, I can fall down. We don’t want this. A person has to always strive to become better everyday. If we strive to work harder on ourselves every day, it will mature us and allow us to realize the importance of self-growth each and every day.