In this week’s parsha, Shelech Lecha, Bnai Israel was approaching the Land of Israel. Upon their ascent, members of Bnai Israel came to Moshe requesting for spies to investigate the Land. Bnai Israel wanted to investigate the Land in order to discern which route to take upon entering the land, and which cities they could easily conquer first.
The Cloud of Glory was directing Bnai Israel, why did they feel the need to investigate the land on their own?
Bnai Israel came up with a few excuses as to why they felt it necessary to explore the land:
1. They said, “Hashem promised us a land of good and precious things; however, before our arrival, the Canaanites (current inhabitants) will conceal all the precious things Hashem has set for us, so it would be a good idea to send spies to see where they are hiding our precious things.”
2. Bnai Israel even brought down a halachic proof to justify their desire to send spies into the land. They said to Moshe, “You taught us Moshe that if we are to capture idols for non-Jews, we are obligated to only destroy those that are actually being worshiped, and the Land of Canaan is land of idols, we must send in spies to know which ones we must destroy!”
3. Furthermore, since Hashem promised to drive out the inhabitants to Canaan slowly, Bnai Israel wanted to ascertain which cities to attack first.
4. Additionally, Bnai Israel wanted to determine the native language of the Land in order to uncover the inhabitant’s military strategies.
In actuality, Bnai Israel wanted to send spies into the Land because they had two doubts:
1. Even though Hashem promised Bnai Israel that the Land was good, nobody had actually seen the Land and they were not convinced.
2. Additionally, Bnai Israel only had a hand full of skilled warriors; therefore, they were worried about how to fight a war against an unknown army in an unknown terrain.
Bnai Israel’s concerns were undeniably understandable from a logically perspective; however, Hashem was extremely disappointed in the lack of emunah- faith- that Bnai Israel had in Him. Because of that, Hashem punished that generation by not allowing them in the Land (except for the Tribe of Levi and the women, they did not want to get involved with investigating the Land, for they had utter faith in Hashem’s guidance).
Moreover, despite the fact that Hashem knew the mission of the spies would fail, He nonetheless allowed them to send the spies in, for had He not they would say the following:
1. Bnai Israel would assume the Land was not as good as Hashem had promised.
2. Additionally, Hashem gave Bnai Israel free choice. Despite the fact that their request for the spies was improper, they could have come back and given a good report; however, they chose to come back with a negative report.
The twelve men to be chosen for the journey were worthy individuals. Although Moshe informed the Jews that Hashem permitted the spies to enter the Land, he was hoping that the permission given from Hashem would be enough for them to realize that the Land was in fact good, as Hashem had said before, and then they would reconsider the notion of entering the Land. Unfortunately, Bnai Israel did not have this realization and sent forth the twelve spies.
Moreover, after their journey in Israel, ten of the twelve spies came back with negative reports, while Yehoshua and Kalav came back with positive reports (to atone for the sin of the spies, ten men are needed to congregate and form a minyan).
From this we can see how the members of Bnai Israel were fearful upon entering the land and they did not trust what Hashem had in store for them in Israel; therefore, that generation of men was punished with being forbidden from enter the land.
Had Bnai Israel trusted in Hashem’s plan for them, and just enter the land without any hesitation, they would have spared themselves the additional 38 years Hashem had decreed to them in the desert. This should shed light into our own lives to trust Hashem and not second-guess His plans for us. Taking this a step further, sometimes we ask why Hashem causes these ‘things’ to happen to us (i.e., plans being canceled, traffic jams, tragedies, illnesses, natural disasters, etc.). However, we need to have trust in knowing that everything happens according to Hashem’s will.
Additionally, we need to recognize that the many unfortunate things that do happen are not happening in vain, but rather, there is a Divine purpose and plan to it all. Despite the sadness and tragedies that people face, we have to continuously have faith in Hashem, because in His infinite kindness and compassion, He only wants good things for His creations (the creation cannot ever fully understand it’s creator, especially since we can only understand the world and Hashem through our five senses, Hashem in His greatness is infinitely beyond that, hence we can never fully understand His ways, but nonetheless we must accept them as eternally good).
Once we have internalized this message, we can start accepting our fates (not so say that we should sit around complacently and not try to change our lives) but realize, that some things are beyond our control. When we start accepting the undeniable facts of life and know that it’s many surprises are in fact from Hashem, we will show Hashem that we are hundred percent committed to His set path for us.