In this week's parsha, we read about the tragic story of the meraglim, the spies who scouted out the land of Canaan in preparation for Bnei Yisroel's imminent conquest. However, instead of returning with reports of excitement and wonder, the scouts cast doubt on the feasibility of the mission and the verse states that "vayivku ha-am balayela hahu - and the nation cried on that day." The Talmud in Ta'anit (29a) famously equates the night that the spies returned, with the night of Tisha B'av. The Talmud states "You wept an unwarranted weeping - and I will establish for you weeping for generations." On the surface, this statement seems puzzling. The phrase that chazal use, "bechya shel chinam" implies that Bnei Yisroel had no reason to cry, but in fact it seems that they did have a reason to cry. In their eyes, everything that they had been yearning for seemed like it would not come to fruition; why is this not a reason to cry?
The reality is that the spies' report was not necessarily a negative one. They told about the abundant produce and splendor of the land, but they also highlighted the strength and might of the inhabitants who lived there. Bnei Yisroel cried, not because they thought that they would no longer get Israel, but because they now realized that it would require hard work and serious warfare. While this news must have been disheartening, it was not tragic.
The Talmud here issues a warning: that we must be careful what we cry about, what we lament. We must not weep in the face of the challenge; rather we must rise to it. We must rise to the challenge involved in being Hashem's treasured nation, and not repeat the mistake of cheit ha-meragelim, the "unwarranted weeping" in the face of formidable challenges.
Rabbi Weinberg, Principal