Dvar Torah by Rabbi Shimon Raichik: The story of the meraglim is as practical now as ever. We each have own “spies”, and just like Kalev visited Ma’aras HaMachpela to daven, we visit the Ohel for guidance.
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik – Rov of Anash in Los Angeles
In this week’s parsha, Shlach, Moshe Rabbenu sends twelve meraglim-scouts to the place destined to be Eretz Yisroel, Eretz Canaan. Forty days later they returned, carrying a huge cluster of grapes, a pomegranate and a fig, and reported that it is a lush and bountiful land. But ten of the meraglim warned that the inhabitants of the land were giants and warriors “more powerful than we”; only Kalev and Yehoshua insisted that the land could be conquered as Hashem commanded. What lesson does this story teach each one of us today?
Chassidus explains that just like the spies had a mission to find the best way to conquer and settle Eretz Yisroel, so too we are all, both individually and collectively, shluchim- emissaries of Hashem to accomplish His purpose on earth. It is therefore quite fitting that on the eve of the entry into the land where this purpose is to be consummated, Hashem allows Moshe Rabbenu to send representatives of the people on a mission. This assignment encapsulated the essence of what the entry into Eretz Yisroel is all about: fulfilling our Divine mission as Hashem’s emissaries in this world.
There are many explanations why the meraglim failed in this mission. In a sicha the Rebbe analyses three things in our daily life compared to the three things the meraglim said. The first was that they could not conquer Eretz Yisroel because it was too strong. Second, that they had an overwhelming problem with the nation of Amalek due to their lack of sufficient emunah in Hashem. Third, even if the Jewish people would have miracles in Eretz Yisroel, they would have to wage a war just to get there.
So too there is also an inner meragel-spy within each one of us that we need to overcome. It is our yetzer hara which does it’s best to convince us that we are incapable of fulfilling our mission in this world of making a dwelling place for Hashem. We need the strength of Kalev and Yehoshua to overcome any challenges.
The Tanya (Chapter 33) says that the purpose of the creation of every Jew and of all the worlds is to make a dwelling place for G‑d in this world. Hashem guides the steps of each individual to achieve this goal. We are here in Los Angeles not by chance but rather Hashem orchestrated circumstances that we are here to fulfill a mission. We do this by converting every aspect of our lives here in LA into Eretz Yisroel, a place where Hashem’s presence dwells openly. This makes LA into a holy place.
Hashem never asks us to do something beyond our abilities. As Chabad Chassidim, the Rebbe told us that our job is to spread the wellsprings of Chassidus and Judaism to the world. Certainly we have the ability to succeed. The yetzer hara tries to convince us with a multi pronged strategy that we will not be successful in our mission. Everyone has yetzer hara. The yetzer hara has no gender or race bias, he comes to every one of us regardless of whether we are male or female, black or white, Middle Eastern or American.
The first thing the yetzer hara says to us (just as the first thing the meraglim said that they could not conquer Eretz Yisroel because it was too strong) is that where we live is not receptive to the message of the Torah and of Chassidus. Maybe somewhere else but not here in “Klipafornia”. Just as people tried to dissuade the Previous Rebbe from opening a yeshiva in America saying that many had tried and failed. Although the Previous Rebbe was very hurt the Rebbe didn’t listen to them. No one believed 81 years ago that America would change and that America wasn’t different. So too today people say it’s too difficult to be a chosid these days. Maybe fifty or a hundred years ago I could have but not now in 2021. The environment has changed. So too with providing a proper Jewish education today in LA.
The second thing the yetzer hara tells us (like the meraglim’s second point that they had an overwhelming problem with the nation of Amalek due to their lack of sufficient emunah in Hashem) that we don’t have what it takes spiritually to succeed. The yetzer hara makes us feel unworthy of accomplishing great things.
The third thing the yetzer hara tells us (like the meraglim’s third point that even if the Jewish people would have miracles in Eretz Yisroel, they would have to wage a war because there are mighty nations that will oppose us and we’ll never get there ) there are way too many overwhelming obstacles that stand between us and our goal. We need to remember Kalev’s message that Hashem provides us with everything we require to get past the crass physicality, the cultural morass, the corrupt forces or any doubts to achieve our goal. Even if we require ladders to go heavenward Hashem will provide.
Nevertheless the yetzer hara doesn’t give up. The yetzer hara brings another argument and compares it to war. The Torah teaches us that war must be waged without fear. We enter battle with emunah, trust and with strength that we will be victorious in battle. Since there are questions if we can be successful, the Torah says that we cannot enter battle and we must return home. Kalev went to Ma’aras HaMachpela to the burial place of our forefathers and mothers and prayed with humility. He asked for help to stay faithful to the mission of Moshe Rabbenu. So too with us, if we have questions we go to the Ohel for guidance. With humility we ask for Hashem’s assistance. We ask the Rebbe to intercede on our behalf and help us overcome all obstacles and fulfill the mission which will end the galus and bring the geula now.
A Good Shabbos, A Good Chodesh