(13:2) “Shelach-Send out.” The incident concerning the spies is the forbearer of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh. The numerical value of the word Shelach is equal to 338. Not coincidently the year of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh was 3338.
The Sefas Emes writes that Hashem created the world and He creates situations in which the world can attain perfection. Through the Exodus came the birth of Klal Yisroel and now the world would be headed for that perfection. That perfection was to take place in two stages. The first stage was to receive the Torah. Klal Yisroel marched on to Har Sinai and after counting forty nine days stood at the foot of the mountain ready for Kabolas H’Torah. The second stage was to take that Torah and enter the land of Israel. Klal Yisroel and the Holy Land together would bring the ultimate perfection of the world. After leaving Mitzrayim, Klal Yisroel was anxious to reach that first stage, to receive the Torah. But we don’t find that same enthusiasm for the second stage. Klal Yisroel were reluctant to leave the lofty position in the desert, the spiritually high level they had attained, for a life of seemingly mundane existence. They felt this would be a step down from where they were. But in fact this is the purpose of us being here. From the time before man is born his neshama wishes to remain in heaven. But as soon as it comes into man it wishes to cling to every moment of life in this world. In fact the only way to insure a place the World to Come is through taking the physical and elevating it. This is what the spies could not see. Hashem’s command was to place the Torah with the help of Klal Yisroel into the land. “ Shelach Lecha Anoshim V’Yosuru es-H’oretz- send out men and bring Torah to the land. The word Yosuru in this verse refers to Torah.
(13:2) “Shelach Lecha Anoshim-Send for yourself people.”The Kli Yakar comments that we find a similar phrase in Bereishis when Hashem tells Avraham “Lech Lecha” There Rashi comments the word “Lecha” implies for your good and for your benefit. In our case there does not seem to be any benefit in sending out the spies? Why does the same word not imply the same meaning? He answers that by Moshe being denied entry into the land, he would have died in the second year out of Mitzrayim. By sending the spies it comes out to be for Moshe’s benefit in that he was able to live another forty years.
(13:2) “Shelach Lecha Anoshim-Send for yourself people.” Why does this section immediately follow the section about Miriam? Rashi quotes the Midrash Tanchuma that these evil people witnessed how Miriam was punished for the words spoken against her brother, but they didn’t learn from it.
What was the Loshon Hora that Miriam spoke about her brother? We know that after Matan Torah Hashem wanted Klal Yisroel to be Mamleches Kohanim- a Kingdom of Priest. The Kohein eats from the sacrifice and the owner receives atonement. He takes the physical world and elevates it. This was to be the role of all Jews. Moshe was above all physicality. When the command to Klal Yisroel was given to return to their tents after Matan Torah, Hashem said to Moshe V’atoh Po Omaid Imodi-You remain here with me. Klal Yisroel was to return to the physical world and use the Torah to elevate it. But Moshe was beyond that. According to some of the commentaries he didn’t need to even eat or drink the rest of his life. This was what his sister Miriam didn’t understand about her brother. How could he teach them to use the Torah to elevate the physical world when he himself was not partaking of it? But that was what Hashem wanted of him. This was also the mistake of the Miraglim. They felt it was beneath them to stoop down to a physical existence. They wished to remain in the Midbar where they could spend the entire day immersed in the spiritual world, with Hashem providing all of their needs. This was a mistake that cost them their lives.
Chazal teach us that the women of that generation were righteous, and it was their merit that redeemed us from Egypt. They also had a tremendous love for the land, but the men did not. They rejected the land. The women also refused to give their jewelry for the worship of the Golden Calf. They remained consistently devoted to Hashem’s Torah and to his servant Moshe. Every time a new rebellion broke out the women upheld Moshe’s position and supported his leadership.
This is perhaps the background to the Gemarrah that says the men of that generation went so far as to warn their wives not to be secluded with Moshe. It is impossible to think that anything in Moshe’s behavior would provoke such strange jealousy. But the explanation is that whenever the men criticized Moshe’s leadership they would hear their wives speak with such admiration of Moshe that it caused them to become jealous. They would each ask themselves; Why does she speak so highly of him? Why can she not tolerate any criticism of him?
Until now the women were opposed to any criticism of Moshe Rabeinu. They did not want any other leader or any other G-d. When Moshe went up to Har Sinai they waited for him to come down. These women, like Jewish women in every generation, had strong influence on their husbands and did not permit any rebellion against Moshe or his policies.
All of this ended when Miriam spoke Loshon Horah. She spoke about the fact that Moshe did not maintain marital relations with his wife, but had separated from her, after receiving communication from Hashem. This caused uproar among women in the camp, who feared that such conduct would become common among Yisroel. Now when the men rose up against Moshe the women no longer protested. It was as if the women silently acquiesced. All of this occurred because of what Miriam said about Moshe. This is why it has become one of the six Zechiras and why this section of the spies follows the section of Miriam.
It is interesting to note that in the entire parsha of the Miraglim the word Miraglim does not appear even once? Perhaps we can say the following. The sin of the Meraglim was that they wished to stay in the theory of Torah rather than actually go into Eretz Yisroel and practice what they learned.
The Shem MiShmuel uses the nature of the sojourn in the desert as compared to their
settlement in Eretz Yisrael, to explain the behavior of the Meraglim. As long as they were in the desert living purely spiritual lives, they could achieve the necessary levels of Kedusha. However, once they crossed the Jordan they would have to earn their food, clothing and housing through natural means. They did not believe in their own spiritual ability to transform these material things into holy things, Kodesh, therefore they wished to remain in the unnatural world of the desert. They did not believe that they could make Olam Hazeh into Olam Habo. The mission of Klal Yisroel is to take the physical, the Olam Hazeh, and elevate it into the spiritual, Olam Habo. Both are needed to achieve this goal. They knew that upon entering into Eretz Yisroel all of this would change. They did not understand that once they entered the land they would use the physical to make the Olam Hazeh into Olam Habo. The gematria of the word Meraglim is equal to the words “Olam Hazeh V’Olam Habo.” This was missing in them and is missing in the parsha.
(13:2) “Shelach Lecha Anoshim-Send for yourself people.” Many of the commentators deal with the question of what exactly was the sin of the spies and what was their motivation. The fact that they didn’t want to leave the protection of the Midbar, that they wanted to remain in the theory of Torah rather than the actual doing of the mitzvos, could be their motivation. Their sin, speaking loshon hora about the land was certainly one. But perhaps worse was the negative perception they attributed to everything they saw. (13:32) “Eretz Ocheles Yoshveha-A land that devours its inhabitants.” They witnessed funerals everywhere they went. The inhabitants of Canaan had a custom of not burying their dead. What they did was accumulate their dead until such time when a great person passed away. In this instance it was Iyov. They believed that with the merit of a great person the souls of their departed would be swept along and gain entry into heaven. What the Meraglim failed to see was what was beyond the exterior. Hashem was providing them with cover in order not to be detected. The Gemarrah in Berachos says that everything Hashem does is ultimately for the good. The meraglim set out with a negative outlook and therefore saw everything in a negative light.
This sin can be traced back to the very first sin, of the Eitz Hadas. The first words immediately following the eating of the Eitz says (Bereishis 3:7) “Vatipokachnah Aynei-And there eyes were opened.” Their vision was now a mixture of Tov V’rah, of good and evil. It was now difficult to see Hashem in everything, to see the good in the world, to even see the good in the evil. This now became man’s mission. Had Adom been able to hold out until Shabbos arrived, he would have been permitted to eat from the Eitz Hadas. Shabbos would have added that dimension to the creation that was needed to bring the exterior physical world back to its spiritual roots. The gematria of the words “Vatipokachnah Aynei-And there eyes were opened.” equals 789. The same as the words “Shelach Lecha Anoshim”
(13:16) “Vayikra Moshe L’Hoshea Bin Nun Yehoshua-And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun Yehoshua.” Prior to the departure of the twelve spies, Moshe Rabbeinu changed the name of his disciple Hoshea to Yehoshua. That changed contained within it a prayer that Hashem save Yehoshua from the plot of the spies. The question is, why did he pray for Yehoshua alone and not for Calev and the others? Also it remains to be explained why Moshe agreed to send the spies in the first place if he was aware of a plot to malign Eretz Yisrael?
The Vilna Gaon in Emuna VeHashgacha explains that there are three ways in which Hashem manifests His Divine Providence. The first is called Hanhagah Nissis, the manifestation of overt miracles. This was the manner in which Hashem related to us during the forty years in the desert. A Cloud of Glory accompanied us by day and a pillar of fire by night; we ate the Heaven-sent manna; and our thirst was quenched by water from a well that flowed from a rock, which accompanied us on our journey. When we sinned, Divine retribution followed immediately in an unmistakable fashion.
The second type of Divine Providence is called Hanhagas Nissim Nistarim. In this stage, Hashem relates to us through hidden miracles. This describes the manner in which Hashem related to us in Ertez Yisrael, prior to our exile. At that time, a direct relationship between nature and Torah observance was evident. When we kept the Mitzvos and toiled in Torah, the rains fell in their proper times and amounts, health and wealth were our lot; and when we sinned, drought and famine followed. Since our exile from Eretz Yisrael, we have experienced the third type of Divine Providence, Hester Panim. In this stage, Hashem hides His face from us and our ability to see Hashem’s Divine Providence in the world becomes impaired.
The Vilna Gaon explains that the various manifestations of Divine Providence differ only in our perception. In reality, Hashem controls and guides the world equally in each phase. Hashem merely hides His face in the latter period. In the desert Klal Yisroel were aware that upon entering Eretz Yisrael the manner in which Hashem related to us would change from one of open miracles to one of miracles within nature. Munn would no longer descend from the heavens; rather we would plow and plant and harvest in order to eat. A well would no longer accompany us; rather we would depend on rainfall to quench our thirst. Their mistake, however, was to reason that if their lives were apparently subject to the same natural order as the rest of the world, then their ultimate success or failure depended on their own military prowess. This was their error.
It was this mistaken outlook from which Moshe prayed that Yehoshua would be spared because Yehoshua was the one who would lead Klal Yisroel into the land. Moshe reasoned that he could better prove to the people their mistake by letting them actually see Eretz Yisrael. He hoped that they would realize the impossibility of conquering Eretz Yisrael with their own might. And yet Hashem had assured them that they would in fact conquer the land. They should have concluded that Hashem obviously planned to continue aiding them, even if in a less openly miraculous fashion. The name Yehoshua means- May Hashem save you. This divine name of Hashem means the synthesis of the natural and spiritual worlds. The Yud represents Olam Habo of creation while the Hey represents Olam Hazeh. Moshe prayed that Yehoshua see the veil of how Hashem works in nature to perform His will. This is why nature-Hatevah and Elokim have the same numerical value. It was for this reason that the letter Yud was added to his name.
(13:16')- “Vayikra Moshe LHoshea Bin Nun Yehoshua.-And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun Yehoshu.” Rashi says it was to Daven for him- that Hashem should aid Yehoshua in the matter of the Meraglim. Why did Moshe Daven for Yehoshua and not for Calev?
The Kli Yakar says that Yehoshua was from the tribe of Yoseph who spoke negatively about his brothers. Moshe was afraid that he would go in the footsteps of his Grandfather and speak negatively about Eretz Yisroel.
The Chafetz Chaim (along with Midrashim) says that when a person finds himself in the company of people of a lesser moral stature there are two approaches. One is to state his opinion every step of the way and be confrontational. The second is to remain silent and only speak out when the right opportunity presents itself. Each approach has its pro’s and con’s. The first approach could be beneficial in keeping a person from becoming influenced by his surroundings. If he keeps himself strong and protests every step of the way it is less likely that they will affect him. On the other hand if makes his opinion known there is the possibility of them finding a way to counter his opinion with logic of their own. They might find ways to persuade him to see things their way. The second approach could be beneficial in that the other people will think he is just as much apart of their plan as they are and not try to change him. He could then wait for the most opportune time to have his words make the greatest impact. The flip side of this is that there is the possibility of his becoming influenced by his surroundings.
This represents how Calev and Yehoshua each had their own way of handling situations: Yehoshua would speak his mind publicly and would have totally differed with the Meraglim openly. He therefore needed the Tefilla of Moshe, which was a Tefilla that the Meraglim wouldn't physically harm him once they would hear his protests. Calev, on the other hand, wouldn't openly differ with them for two reasons: 1- So that they wouldn't harm or even kill him. And 2- In order to eventually get them to listen to his opinion, he would, at first, appear to agree with them and then would say his true opinion in front of the Nation. Therefore, Moshe didn't have to Daven for him that they wouldn't harm him. (Calev, himself, was afraid they would harm him. This is why he went to Daven at Moras Hamachpela. In the end, it did happen this way. When the Meraglim returned from their trip, it was only Yehoshua alone who had a dissenting opinion. Calev appeared to agree with them. Calev then said, “Is this the only thing that “Ben Amram” did to us!” This got their attention in a positive way and then Calev was able to silence them. This could be the understanding of the words Hashem used to describe Calev (14:24)”V’avdy Kaleiv Ekev Hayisah Ruach Acheres-But my servant Calev has a different spirit in him.” Rashi explains this means Echod b’peh V’echod B’lev-One way in his heart and another in his mouth. He differed with the Meraglim in his heart and would wait to reveal his true intention. But, meanwhile outwardly, with his speech, he seemed to agree with them.
We find that the name of Calev is mentioned first at times and the name of Yehoshua is sometimes mentioned first. This is to teach us that they were equal. But we see that Yehoshua was the one chosen to lead Klal Yisroel after Moshe? How can we say they were equal? What it means is that they were equal in their approach. But in order to be a leader in Klal Yisroel one could not be Echod b’peh V’echod B’lev-One way in his heart and another in his mouth.
How was Calev able to withstand the peer pressure of the other Meraglim? When they first arrived in Eretz Yisrael The posuk reads (13:22)“Vayavo ad Chevron-He arrived at Chevron.” Rashi learns from the singular use of the word he came, that it refers to Calev. His first order of business was to pray at the Moros Hamachpelah, to pray at the graves of the Avos. Later on the posuk says (14:24)”V’avdy Kaleiv Ekev Hayisah Ruach Acheres-But my servant Calev has a different spirit in him.” What is this other spirit that he possessed? The Arizal writes that he was a Gilgulim of Eliezer Eved Avraham.The name Kaleiv ben Yefuneh equals Avraham in gematria. The words Ruach Acheres equals Anachnu Benei Bonov Shel Avraham- we are the grandchildren of Avraham. We are the grandchildren not just Calev, meaning anyone has the capability to receive this spirit of our ancestors.
This could perhaps also explain a question at the end of the parsha where we find the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. Rashi there explains that Tzitis are equal to all of the 613 mitzvos and the numerical value of the word Tzitzis equals 600. The problem is that this is true if the word Tzitzis is spelled with two Yuds, which is not the case all three times, that it is mentioned here. The Rebenu Bachyah answers that the third time Tzitzis is mentioned its written L’Tzitzis it’s spelled with a Lamed which equals 30. So if you add up all three times the word Tzitzis is written it averages 600. We have said that the Yud represents Olam Habo of creation while the Hey represents Olam Hazeh. Why do we call the other world “the world to come” rather than the other world or even the next world? If Olam Hazeh means this world then the appropriate term should have been the other world? Olam Habo means the world that is not yet made. By performing mitzvos in this world we are creating our next world. The world to come means not yet here. Perhaps though we can say that the reason the word Tzitzis is spelled without the yud is because through the 613 mitzvos it becomes our job to make the Yud of the world to come, to build our own Olam Habo.
There is a connection between the chet of the Meraglim and the chet of the Eigel. With regard to the chet of the Eigel that there is mention of that generation not going into Eretz Yisroel except for the Leviim. But this punishment was really only said by the Meraglim? Why should it also apply to the chet of the Eigel? The answer is that they are connected. The Tiferes Tzion writes that the incident of the Meraglim determined whether or not Benei Yisroel had done a complete teshuva for the chet of the Eigel. By the Eigel they erred in thinking that Hashem needs intermediaries to run the universe. They thought that when they saw Moshe lying on his deathbed being carried away, that they would now need something tangible to direct their prayers to. That was the purpose in making the Eigel. That is also why right after they were forgiven for the Chet they were given the mitzvah to build the Mishkon so as to have a place to direct their prayers. By the Meraglim they should have had emunah that Hashem would conquer Eretz Yisroel with open miracles. The sin of the Meraglim proved that Benei Yisroel had not fully repented from the chet of the Eigel. Therefore the death decree originally said by the Eigel was now to be enacted.
(13:11) “L’mateh Yosef L’mateh Menashe-From the tribe of Yosef from the tribe Menashe.” Why is it that the Torah mentions Menashe with Yosef and not Efraim? Because since Yosef had once called his brothers spies, so too Menashe, had once called the tribes spies. During the time when Yosef was testing his brothers, Menashe was sent to retrieve them by falsely accusing them of being spies. But Efraim was not part of any of this. He therefore was able to have a descendant (Kaleiv) who could distance himself from these spies.
The Arizal writes that when Yosef accused his brothers of being spies, he was not talking about the present, but actually referring to the future. The souls of the ten sons of Yakov were transmigrated into the ten people chosen by Moshe to tour Eretz Yisroel. Among the ten brothers who stood before Yosef was Yehudah, the ancestor of Kalev, who did not participate with the other spies. Since Yosef accused them all of being spies although one was actually innocent, he in turn was punished that one of his children would be involved with the spies. Menashe was the interpreter at the time when the brothers stood before Yosef. He also said the words “Meraglim Atem-You are spies.” Therefore the Torah emphasized that Gaddi son of Susi represented both Yosef and Menashe, because they both accused Yehudah unjustly.
(13:16) “Vayikra Moshe L’Hoshea Bin Nun Yehoshuah- And Moshe called Hoshea Bin Nun Yehoshuah.” Why is it that Moshe found it necessary to assist Yehoshua and not any of the other tribes? One answer could be that since the prophecy, foretold by Eldad and Meidad, about Yehoshua replacing Moshe to lead Klal Yisroel into the land, would have an effect on Yehoshua’s judgment. Therefore Moshe felt that adding a letter would strengthen his resolve.
(13:20) “Hyesh Bah Eitz Im Ayin- See if there is a tree or not.” The Zohar explains the word “Eitz” to mean “the tree,” the Eitz Hachaim in Gan Eden. It says that the men sent to spy the land were all righteous men. What went wrong? How could they have been corrupted so quickly? After hearing the prophecy that Moshe would not be leading the people into the land but would die in the desert, they misunderstood Moshe’s words to mean they should be looking for Gan Eden, for the Tree, the Eitz Hachaim. By doing so they would be able to bypass the decree of death against Moshe and go into the land with him. When the tree was not found they returned with the plan to discourage entry into Eretz Yisroel.
(13:20) “Hyesh Bah Eitz Im Ayin V’hischazaktem V’lokachtem M’pri H’aretz-See if there are trees or not And you shall strengthen yourselves and take from the fruits of the land.” The question is if there are no trees how are they to take fruits? Rashi explains that trees, refers to men of merit. The Chasam Sofer explains that if there are trees ie. men of merit then how can we tell if the fruits are good because of the land. Perhaps it is in the merit of these men? But if there are no trees (men of merit) than you should take the fruits to see how good the land is. The Satmar Rebbe answers that this posuk is telling us how to know if men are men of merit. It is only by looking at the fruits of the trees, by looking at their fruits. Through the children we can tell the stature of a man.
(13:20) “V’hischazaktem V’lokachtem M’pri H’aretz V’hayomim YemeyBekurei Anavim-And you shall strengthen yourselves and take from the fruits of the land and the days were the days of the first-ripe grapes.” Why would there be a need to strengthen themselves before taking fruits? What is the Torah trying to convey with this term? From the end of the verse we learn that these were the days prior to Tishabav. Moshe knew that these were days when the Yezter Hora is strong. He therefore instructed them to strengthen themselves through the fruits of the land. Eretz Yisroel contains an intrinsic spirituality that they could tap into. This is hinted at in the words “V’hayomim YemeyBekurei Anavim- and the days were the days of the first-ripe grapes.” The word Bekurei also can mean prior. The letters prior or before the letters of Anavim spell Smael, the Soton. These were the days of the Soton.
When the Meraglim came upon the fruits of the land Kalaiv reminded them that Moshe had instructed them to bring some back. They refused not wanting to show the merits of the land, until Kalaiv threatened force. That is why they chose tremendously oversized fruits in order to tell the people that they could not survive there. This is also why each of the Meraglim took part in carrying the fruits except Kalaiv and Yehoshua.
(13:24) “L’Mokom Hahu Koroh Nachal Eshkol al Odos H’Eshkol Asher –Korsu M’shom Benei Yisroel-That place was called the valley of Eshkol because of the cluster which the children of Yisroel cut down from there.” The Kli Yakar writes that this was the turning point in the mission of the spies. The words “Asher –Korsu M’shom Benei Yisroel- which the children of Yisroel cut down from there” Can be read as - the children of Yisroel were cut off from there. The intent was not to showcase the tremendous fruits of the land. Rather the intent was to show just as these fruits are abnormal so too the people of the land are abnormal and we cannot conquer it.
(13:26) " Vayeichu Vayvo'u-They went and they came." What is this double speak? This leads to another question. If the spies were fulfilling a Shelichus why weren't they protected? As we know a Sheluchei Mitzvah Aynon Nezikin- A messengers is protected. But this is the meaning of the words "Vayeichu Vayvo'u-They went and they came." they went as a messenger and they came with their own agenda. Because they had their own agenda they were not protected.
There is a difference of opinion regarding how many spies actually went into the land. According to most commentators it was twelve. Rabbi Akiva maintains there were 24. The posuk says (13:2) “Ish Echad Ish Echad-One man one man” from each tribe. The double use of this phrase implies two men from each tribe. The question therefore arises, but we know that a quorum of ten men is learned out from the ten spies? How can R.Akiva say there were 24?
There is a Gemorrah in Brochos that says “Habo L’taheir M’sayin Oso-If a person wishes to better himself they aid him.” What does it mean they aid him? It should say He helps him in the singular form. But the meaning is as follows. There is a concept called Transmigration of souls (Ibur Neshamas) where the souls of previous Tzadikim are sent to accompany and assist a person attempting a worthy but difficult task. There is a story about the Arizal who once stood up for a student of his that had just entered the room. When questioned about this he responded that he saw the Neshama of Pinchas ben Yair enter the room with his student. What had happened was that this student had just finished risking his life to perform the mitzvah of Pidyan Shevuyin. Assisting him on that task was Pinchas ben Yair. The Arizal sensed this and stood up when he entered the room.
Another case of Ibur Neshamas is by Aharon H’kohein. We have a rule “Ain Kateger Nasseh Saneiger- The prosecutor may not be the defender. Aharon was not permitted to enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur wearing gold because of his role in the sin of the Golden Calf. This may be true of Ahron’s role as Kohein Gadol but what about all of the future Kohanim that were not involved in the Sin of the golden calf? Why could they not enter wearing gold? The answer is that every subsequent Kohein that entered the Holy of Holies did not enter alone. The soul of Aharon accompanied them. Therefore every future Kohein Gadol entered wearing white. With this we can understand the posuk that says “B’zos Yovo Aharon el Hakodesh-With this Aharon would enter into the sanctuary.” The word B’zos has the numerical value of 410, the exact number of years that the first Beis Hamikdosh stood. The question then is why is only the first Beis Hamikdosh hinted at and not the second? The answer is that only during the first Beis Hamikdosh was Aharon accompanying the Kohein Gadol. All subsequent Kohanim of the second Temple were not worthy and did not benefit from Aharon’s assistance
With this we can answer the original question of this week’s parsha. R.Akiva says there were 24 Meraglim. This is true Ish Echad Ish Echad one man plus one transmigrated soul for each shevet. In Bereishis, when Yosef accused his brothers of being spies he said the words “Meraglim Atem” referring to his brothers, but it was to be taken literally. Their souls would in the future transmigrate into the spies of our parsha. But when they reached the Valley of Eshkol the children of Yisroel were cut off (Asher –Korsu M’shom Benei Yisroel) from the original sons of Yakov. Thus they no longer were 24 men. This is the meaning of the words “Asher –Korsu M’shom Benei Yisroel-That Benei Yisroel were cut off from there.” The heavenly assistance was removed and they were left with only ten. It comes out from this that when the spies said the land is too difficult to conquer the people there are too mighty, they were right. It was impossible for them to overcome such obstacles. It was only with the help of Hashem that they would succeed. This is a very important lesson we need to learn here. Whenever we are faced with a daunting task and feel that it is impossible to achieve, we must begin, go forward and Hashem will send us the help that is needed.
(13:30) “Vyahas Kaleiv es-Ha’am…Vayomer Oloh Naleh- Ki Yochol Nuchal Lo-Kalev silenced the people and said we shall surely ascend for we can surely do it.” Rashi says even if our destination would be heaven and he were to say make ladders and go up there, we would succeed in all his words.(Sotah 35a) What is the meaning of this Gemarrah? On a simple level Kalev meant even if the walls of the Canaanite cities are as high as the heavens as the spies are quoted as saying in Devarim (1:28) they would prevail. The Sefas Emes says that the spies understood that the time was not yet right to enter the Land. But it says in Koheles (3:1) “Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under heaven.” It is only under heaven, that is, within the realm of natural cause and effect, that man can calculate if the time is right for something or not. But Moshe ascended to heaven itself to receive the Torah. Under his leadership the intensity of Divine Providence over the nation of Israel was such that they could not be said to be under the heaven. This is what Kalev meant by saying “we could make ladders and go up there.” If Moshe tells us to do it, even to the heavens, that is even beyond the natural plane where cause and effect as we perceive it does not apply.
(13:30) “Vyahas Kaleiv es-Ha’am el-Moshe- Kalev silenced the people to Moshe.” Why is Moshe mentioned? It could just have said Kalev silenced the people? Rashi says this enabled him to quiet the people. They thought he was going to speak against Moshe as the other spies had done. He said “is this the only thing that the son of Amram did?” He then proceeded to list all of the miracles that Moshe did for them. The Meshech Chochma explains it differently. We learned in the previous parsha that Eldad and Meidad said prophecy that Moshe would not lead them into Eretz Yisroel. Up until this point all of their experiences had been through Moshe. Now that they heard he would not lead them into the land they feared that Hashem would not perform miracles in the same manner as before. This is the meaning of the words “Kalev silenced the people to Moshe.” He silenced their complaints about not being able to conquer the land without Moshe. “Vayomer Oloh Naleh- Ki Yochol Nuchal Lo- and he said we shall surely ascend for we can surely do it” Klal Yisroel can do it. We see this from the fact that during the entire forty years in the desert, while Hashem was angry with that generation, that Hashem didn’t speak to Moshe. It wasn’t until the entire generation died out that we find Hashem once again speaks to Moshe. We see from here that it was due to the merits of Klal Yisroel that Moshe was able to perform so many of the miracles.
(14:24) “V’avdi Kolev Eikev Hoysah Ruach Acheres Emo-And your servant Kalev has a different spirit in him.” In this posuk it say's that Kalev had a different spirit in him and Hashem will be bringing him into the land. The question is what is this different spirit mentioned with regard to Kalev? The Kol Torah says that the posuk is referring to Miriam his wife. She had tremendous confidence in Yisroel plus a great love for the land. This aided Kalev to withstand the influence of the spies. Some believe that Kalev had a second wife as well. Basya Bas Pharaoh.
The Malbim says that this different spirit was acquired from his visit to the Moros Hamachpela. We see that the first thing he did upon entering Eretz Yisroel was to pray to the Avos for strength. Even though this was a dangerous endeavor. We learn from this that the dead have the ability to give strength to the living and affect our world. The words Ruach Acheres is equal to 823 in Gematria the same as Anachnu Benei Bonav Shel Avraham- We are descendants of Avraham. Kolev kept his connection to the Avos close to his heart.
We know that a Sheliach for a Mitzvah is protected. If so why were the Meraglim not protected? Perhaps we can say that since Kalev is called Hashem’s servant, only he remained true to his mission. The words Ruach Acheres equals 823 the same as the words Sheluchey Mitzvah Aynon Nezikim-A messenger for a mitzvah is protected.
The Arizal writes that he was a Gilgulim of Eliezer Eved Avraham. The words Ruach Acheres Emo equals 870 the same as B’Gilgul Neshamos-The transmigration of souls.
Why is Yehoshua not mentioned here since he too was able to enter into Eretz Yisroel? The answer is that just as Yehoshua delayed in his response to the spies’ slander, Midah keneged Midah Hashem delayed including him when he mentioned who would enter the land. We learn from here the gravity of delaying a Mitzvah. There is a story of a great Rav who visited one of his students in a dream after he passed away. In the dream he was standing at the entrance to Gan Eden but not going in. The student asked him why he was not going in? He replied that during his life he would not dress in his Shabbos clothing at the start of Shabbos, but would delay putting them on. His punishment for this was to stand at the entrance of Olam Habo and not enter until Shabbos morning.
(14:34) “Arbaim Yom-Yom L’shana Yom L’shana-Forty days a day for a year a day for a year.” There is a famous rule written by the Ramban which states “Maseh Avos Simin L’bonim-The events of our forefathers are sign for the descendants.” Every event recorded in the Torah and particularly in Sefer Bereishis is the root of some future event. Where can this decree of 40 years of wandering be rooted? R.M’yuchas, a rishon from Greece writes that when Yakov was being transported back to Israel for burial, the route they took was identical to that of Klal Yisroel while they wandered through the wilderness. The formation of the tribes was identical. The Egyptian people that accompanied them for the funeral were reminiscent of the Erev Rav that followed Klal Yisroel through the desert. The forty days it took to embalm Yakov correlates to the forty years they spent in the Midbar. In fact this would explain the double loshon used “Yom L’shana Yom L’shana- a day for a year a day for a year.” One day for the current sin, and one day for the sins of the past.
Non of the Jews died before the age of 60 for their punishment was to die in the wilderness not to die prematurely. Therefore those who were 20 years old at the time needed 40 years to complete their punishment.
Rabeinu Bachya writes that this is meant to teach us the mercy Hashem has even when He metes out punishment. It would have been impossible for the spies to cover the entire land of Israel in just 40 days. Therefore Hashem made a miracle that they would be able to accomplish this in that short of a time. Obviously Hashem knew in advance what the punishment was to be. He therefore made each days travel enough that it would cover a year.
(14:34) “Arbaim Yom-Yom L’shana Yom L’shana-Forty days a day for a year a day for a year.” Really it should say a year for a day not a day for a year? The decree was to wander the desert for forty years? The word “Yom” is referring to the day Tisha B’av the one day of each year that Yisroel died. (Soforno)
The night after the Meraglim returned and spoke Loshon Hora about Eretz Yisroel was the ninth of Av. They all returned to their tents and cried. Even the heads of Sanhedrin complained to Moshe saying that they would rather die in the desert than be killed by Idol worshipers in Eretz Yisroel. So Hashem said it will be as you wish. You will all pass away in the wilderness. Part of the punishment went to their son's, having to wander in the wilderness for forty years until all the men of that generation who were above the age of twenty reached sixty and died. Each year on the night of Tishabav the men who reached the age of sixty would dig their own graves and rest in them till morning. Afterward Moshe would call out “All those alive arise!” But still that generation was on such a very high level, having heard Hashem's voice at Har Sinai, that they resembled Angels and in death their bodies did not decay. For accepting Hashem's decree to the extent of preparing their own graves, their sins were atoned and they retained Olam Haboh.
(14:40) "Asher Omar Hashem Ki Chatanu- That Hashem said we sinned." Many ask why their repentance was not accepted? They now we're saying " We are ready to go up to the place that Hashem has spoken, for we have sinned." From these words we see they were not sincere. If you connect the words "Hashem has Spoken" with the words " we have sinned" it reads; Hashem said we sinned, but we say we have done nothing wrong. Their Teshuva was not sincere.
The parsha ends with the mitzvah of Tzitzis. (16:39) V'lo Sosuru Acharei L'vavechem V'acharei Eynechem-And you shall not spy after your heart and after your eyes.”What is the connection between this mitzvah and the Meraglim? Rashi explains that Tzitis are equal to all of the 613 mitzvos and the numerical value of the word Tzitzis equals 600. We add the eight strands and the five knots and come up with 613. The problem is that this is a very unusual way of using Gematria? It seems to be forced? But that is exactly the answer. Why does the posuk of Tzitzis first mention the heart and then the eyes? This brings us back to the beginning of the parsha. The sin of the meraglim was one of vision. They saw what they wanted to see. When they entered the land they had preconceived ideas about what they would find. They followed their hearts and subsequently their eyes found what they wanted to see. The same holds true about the Gematria. If you are looking for 613, for kiddusha then you will find a way to make it work.