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Parshat Hashavua Shlach

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Last Updated on October 25, 2021

Weekly Torah Portion – Parshat Hashavua Shlach

Contributed by: Rabbi Nissim Mordechai Makor

Parshat Hashavua Shelach rav makor 220x220

Parshat Hashavua Shelach in a nutshell; Moses sends twelve spies to the land of Canaan. Forty days later they return and report on a lush and bountiful land. But ten of the spies warn that the inhabitants of the land are giants and warriors “more powerful than we”; only Caleb and Joshua insist that the land can be conquered, as G‑d has commanded.

“The land is very, very good”

Yehoshua and Kalev rose to contradict the words of their comrades, insisting that the land does not “consume its inhabitants.”Its environment is good and it flows with milk and honey (see Ramban).What, however, did they mean in Parshat Hashavua Shelach when they said, “Tovah u ha’aretz me’od me’od” — “the land is very, very good”? A beautiful explanation appears in the commentary, “He’amek Davar” by the Nessiv zs”l of Volozhin, an approach to which he refers several times throughout his work on Chumash (Bereshit 1:31, 3:8; Bemidbar 32:11). Indeed, there is no land in the world like Eretz Yisrael! However, can the air quality compare with that of Switzerland, does it produce fruit like that of California, water like Turkey, oil like Kuwait, diamonds like the Congo, or gold like South Africa? How are we to understand the greatness of Eretz Yisrael?

We introduce the answer with another question: who receives greater enjoyment from a good meal — a millionaire or commoner?Undoubtedly, a regular person enjoys a big meal more, as he is not accustomed to luxury.Likewise, Israelis enjoy the air of Switzerland, while the Swiss themselves have grown accustomed to the clear air and do not realize this special quality of their country.We can now begin to understand the unique greatness of Eretz Yisrael.Some countries are blessed with an abundance of a given quality — water or sun, clear air or fruits.Others are lacking in every which way;they are dry, barren and poor.Our land is special in that it possesses everything but without one permanent quality.There are rainy winters and dry winters;difficult summers and easier summers;a bountiful produce and weak produce.We are therefore always aware of the blessings we receive and capable of appreciating them and thanking the Al-mighty.”The land is very good” — and we can then again appreciate the goodness: “very, very good.”

Why is this?First, in order that we express our gratitude to Hashem each time anew, just as we recite “sheheheyanu” when partaking of a new fruit.Secondly, the main reason, so that we constantly realize our dependence on the Creator.By His will the winter will be blessed with heavy rainfall, and by His will it will be dry.And it all depends on our conduct: “If you listen to My misvot. I will give the rain of your land in its time, and you will harvest your grain, your wine and your oil. Beware, lest your heart strays. He will withhold the heavens and there will be no rain, and the land will not give its yield.”We thus constantly lift our eyes to the heavens, working to improve our ways.

“The land is very, very good”

The Midrash cites Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi as comparing Benei Yisrael’s request of a scouting mission to a prince who, after his father made a match for him with a beautiful, wealthy girl from a distinguished family, asked to go see her.

The sacred Kabbalist Rav Haim Vital zs”l explained that this alludes to the three important qualities of Eress Yisrael. First, it is “beautiful” in its spirituality. It marks the “gate of the heavens” through which Am Yisrael’s tefilot ascend to the heavens and Hashem’s blessing descends from the heavens, as it says, “Hashem’s eyes are constantly on it.” It is also situated opposite the heavenly Bet Hamikdash, as it says, “to glorify the site of our Mikdash.” Secondly, Eretz Yisraels “wealthy” in material terms, as the pasuk says, “a land where you may eat food without stint, it lacks nothing therein.” It is therefore referred to as “a land flowing with milk and honey,” as demonstrated by the fruits brought by the scouts.

Finally, Eress Yisrael is “from a distinguished family.”Meaning, whoever earns the privilege of living there is called a sadik, as the pasuk says, “And your nation is all sadikim, they will always inherit the land.”This also alludes to the fact that the land’s “ancestors,” the sacred patriarchs, lived there and recognized its goodness and sanctity!

Ugly Picture

Most of us don’t like to lose our temper. Our egos always prefer to preside over a situation with cool control. Unfortunately, subduing the demon of anger is more easily said than done.

Our Sages suggest many different practical approaches to assist a person during a bout with temper. The Orchot Sadikim (chapter 12) suggests silence. When you start to boil, keep your mouth closed. Silence is to anger what water is to fire.

Orchot Tzadikim also advises that if you can’t keep the lid on, try speaking in a low tone. This should have a calming effect on you. The sefer also recommends that you avoid looking straight into the face of the person who is upsetting you, because this can increase your anger.

Another effective cure is to look in a mirror. Anger is ugly. You definitely look better with a smile on your face. When you are about to lose your temper, look in the mirror of your mind and kill the ire before it takes over your entire being.

The moments you spend using these techniques will save you hours of aggravation and add years to your life.

As heard from my Torah Teachers

Shabbat Shalom

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