Parshas Shelach 5777
Candle Lighting Time: 8:13 pm
June 16, 2017
Volume 13 Issue 23
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Dvar Torah

Same Tactic - Two Fields
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas  
This week's Parsha features one of the most infamous sins of the Jewish People, the sin of the miraglim, the spies. The result of that needless cry would resonate with pain, sorrow, and destruction for centuries to come. We read the parsha with frustration and ask, "How could they, why did they do it, and how could they have fallen so low?"
            We will try to convey, with some additional commentary, the words of the Nesivos Shalom on this topic. He asks, what was the need for miraglim, were the Jewish Nation not used to living a supernatural existence? How would a report on the physical prowess of the Canaanite nations have any impact on their chosen path of conquest? Additionally, is it not a tactical error to send the holiest of men on, what would seem, a basic reconnaissance mission?
The Nesivos Shalom answers that the call for great men stemmed from a deeper understanding of the potential perils that might result from invading the land. Moshe understood that just as the land had phenomenal positive spiritual potential; it had a similar amount of possible negativity. To properly assess the impending danger required men of tremendous spiritual height. Only the greatest would be able to understand and diagnose what would be needed to remain impervious to the potential danger. Just as Sara  (through receiving the land of Goshen) and Yehuda (by establishing a Yeshiva in Goshen) laid the groundwork for the Jewish People, to protect them from the evils of Egypt, the same process would be required in the land where true free choice would now be possible again.
So what went wrong? What was their error? Their mistake lay in the feeling of incapability to take on a land filled with tremendous physical potential and desire. The flavour of the fruits of the land were irresistible.  The fruits' enormity represented physical pleasure to an extreme. Additionally, the Canaanite people were devoted to immorality on a level beyond comprehension. It was to this forbidden land that the Jewish People, coming literally from under G-d's shadow and nourished spiritually, were supposed to enter. A land that devoured its inhabitants with its pleasures, how could the Jewish People ever make proper choices there?
Yet, as well meaning as they were, that was their mistake. Just as they were to have full trust in G-d in conquering the land on a physical level, they should have had the same degree of confidence on a spiritual level. As the Talmud (Shabbos 104a) states, "One comes to purify himself, G-d helps him." Similarly the Talmud states elsewhere (Succos 52b), "A man's inclination threatens everyday to overpower him and seeks to kill him... And if not for the fact that the Holy One Blessed is He aids him, he would be unable to withstand it."
It was the will of G-d that they enter this testing ground. Their goal was to take all the seemingly mundane and elevate it for spiritual purposes. This is what Yehoshua and Calev referred to when they cried out in defense of entering the Holy Land, "For they are our bread." Those puzzling words alluded to the potential that the tantalizing food of Eretz Yisrael could become basic nourishment represented by bread. The fruit could be used to nourish the Jewish People on their quest for spiritual greatness and closeness to G-d. But they failed in the face of possible achievement, not wanting to leave their cocoon in the Clouds of Glory and test the waters of Eretz Yisrael. May we always remain undaunted by seemingly impossible spiritual tests and know that if we do our best, G-d will assist us with the rest. 

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Being Dan L'Kaf Zechus
By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi

The Posuk [Vayikra 19:15] says "Betzedek tishpot amisecha" (you shall judge your nation justly).  The Gemara [Shavuos 30a] explains that this Posuk is teaching us two halachos: a) a judge should judge all people that come before him justly, and b) one needs to judge his friend favorably.
Rashi [Shabbos 127b s.v. hachei garseenun] writes that judging one justly brings peace to the world.  When one judges someone justly and says to himself that this person did not purposely try to harm me, this causes peace between them.  Similarly, the Sefer HaChinuch [235] adds that the reason for this mitzvah is to improve society that there will be peace between people and they will trust one another.
Harav Eliyahu E. Dessler, zt"l, explains the obligation to judge someone else justly stems from the mitzvah of V'ahavta l'raiyacha k'mocha.  Just as when someone does certain actions he will search high and low for excuses to justify what he did, so too he is obligated to look for excuses when his friend does a questionable action.  However, if he does not look for excuses for his friend, it is not because all of a sudden he became wise and truly understands that this action was wrong; rather it is because he does not love the other person (Michtav M'Eliyahu 5: pg. 431).
All Rishonim agree that it is a mitzvah m'doraisa to judge a fellow Jew justly (Sefer Chafetz Chaim, Introduction Asin 3 in Be'er Mayim Chaim).  This mitzvah applies to men and women at all times (Sefer HaChinuch 235).  One should try to be educate his children in this mitzvah as well (Sefer Mishpatei HaShalom 1:14).
The general rule is that it is assur to think negative thoughts regarding the speech or action of someone else.  It does not matter if the action in question is something which is bein adam l'makom (between a person and G-d) or bein adam l'chaveiro (between a person and other people) (Sefer Mishpatei HaShalom 1:6).  This includes that one is required to judge the action of a minor l'zechus, because he is included in "Ami'secha" (your nation) (Sefer Mishpatei HaShalom 1:15).  One is not obligated to judge a non- Jew favorably, since he is not included in " Ami'secha " (Sefer Mishpatei HaShalom 1:13).
As will be explained in future weeks, the halachah is that a person has to judge a person according to his chazaka (status).  It is clear from the Rishonim and the Poskim that the mitzvah is not necessarily to give everybody the "benefit of the doubt", for there are cases where one is not obligated to give the benefit of the doubt.  Rather the obligation is " B'tzedek tish'pot ami'secha ", you shall judge your fellow fairly.  This means a person should make a thoughtful assessment of a person's actions and search for the tzedek , i.e. that which is correct and not to jump to conclusions.  A person should always ask himself "Is it more likely that this person is acting in character even though I cannot see how, or is it more likely that my superficial assessment is correct and he is acting out of character".  Furthermore, the Torah is telling us that in situations when we are supposed to judge positively it is not because we are na├»ve, rather this is correct and true, since the intrinsic essence of people is to be good and do what is right] (Sefer The Torah's Guidelines for Interpersonal Relationships pg. 35 & Sefer Zerah Chaim on Sefer Chafetz Chaim pg. 286).

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