Shelach 5778

RABBI BINYOMIN ABRAMSON

ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע (ויקרא יג:טז)

And Moshe called Hoshei’a bin Nun ‘Yehoshua’ (Bamidbar 13:16)

Rashi cites the Gemara (Sotah 34b) which explains this Pasuk to mean that Moshe Rabbeinu davened to Hashem, asking Him to save Yehoshua from the plot of the spies – “קה יושיעך מעצת מרגלים”. The Chafetz Chaim (Shemiras HaLashon 2:19) asks a number of questions. First, why did Moshe only daven for Yehoshua and not for Kalev as well? After all, Kalev was also worthy of Moshe’s tefillos, as he, too, refrained from speaking Lashon Hara against Eretz Yisrael!
Later (Bamidbar 13:16), Rashi cites another Gemara (ibid.), which states that Kalev went to Daven at the graves of the Avos in Me’aras HaMachpeilah, beseeching them to intercede on his behalf so that would he not be convinced by the Meraglim to join in their evil plot to slander Eretz Yisrael. The Chafetz Chaim asks, why didn’t Yehoshua go there to daven as well?
Subsequently (Bamidbar 14:24), when Hashem informed Moshe that his generation would not merit entering Eretz Yisrael, Hashem added that Kalev, who possessed a רוח אחרת, “different spirit,” would indeed be allowed to enter. The Chafetz Chaim wonders, why was Yehoshua not mentioned there? He, too, was opposed to the Meraglim’s ways!
The Chafetz Chaim answers these questions with a penetrating insight in Avodas Hashem. He says that there are two equally valid approaches to serving Hashem when faced with רשעים, wicked people. One way is to fight them from the start, explaining to them directly why what they’re doing is wrong. The second way is to remain quiet at first, when presented with their ideals, thereby fooling them into thinking that one agrees with them. Later, at a more opportune time, one can publicly reveal his true beliefs and clarify the falsity of their ways.
The Chafetz Chaim explains that each method has its pros and cons. The first approach is advantageous because by refuting their ideologies at the start, one is less likely to become affected by the רשעים. By choosing to remain silent at first, however, one risks being swayed by their evil ways.
On the other hand, direct confrontation can be dangerous. An argument may potentially cause the evildoers to band together and inflict harm, thereby requiring one to be saved by רחמי שמים, Heavenly mercy. In this aspect, the second approach is better, because by tricking them into thinking that he is on their side, one is less likely to bring harm upon himself. Additionally, there is a greater chance that they will listen to him when he indeed does express his true opinions, as they are under the impression that he agrees with them.
Moshe Rabbeinu knew through Ruach Hakodesh that Yehoshua’s persona aligned with the first approach, so he alone needed רחמי שמים. Therefore, Moshe davened to Hashem to save Yehoshua. Kalev, however, would be more likely to follow the second method, by keeping quiet at first, so he didn’t need any special protection. When the Meraglim came to Chevron and Kalev discerned their true intentions, he became afraid that he would be swayed by them, and he therefore went to daven by the קברי אבות.
Since Kalev used this route to deal with the Meraglim, he was later able to surprise them by publicly voicing his approval of Eretz Yisrael. The reason the Pasuk mentions only Kalev as having a רוח אחרת is because until that point, Kalev kept his favorable opinion of Eretz Yisrael hidden, while at the same time outwardly appearing to associate himself with the negative view of the Meraglim.
The Tosefta (Kerisos 4:7) says that sometimes the Torah writes Kalev before Yehoshua and sometimes vice versa, to teach that Kalev and Yehoshua were equal. The Chafetz Chaim understands this to mean that both approaches to disputing the ways of רשעים are correct, provided that one has the right intentions when doing so.


RABBI SHMUEL KLEINBART

Breaking Addictions

והיה לכם לציצת וראיתם אתו וזכרתם את כל מצוות ה’ ועשיתם אותם ולא תתורו
אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם (במדבר טו:לט)

In Parshas Shelach, the Torah commands the Jews to wear Tzitzis. The Mitzvah of Tzitzis is unique in that the Torah places a special emphasis on seeing the Tzitzis: “And you shall see them (the Tzitzis), and you shall remember the commandments of Hashem and [thereby] do them” (Bamidbar 15:39)
The Torah continues, however, “And you shall not spy after your eyes and after your hearts, by which you [naturally] stray.” Rashi explains this Pasuk as follows: “The heart and the eyes are spies for the body, procuring sins for it. The eye sees, the heart desires, and the body commits the sin.” Rashi is describing a three step process to sinning. First, one must see the forbidden object; second, he must think about it; and only third, will he pursue it.
What is the explanation for the juxtaposition of these two seemingly unrelated ideas – Tzitzis, and the eyes enticing sin?
The following explanation can be offered: Just as there is a three step process in being enticed to sinning, similarly there exists a three step process in refraining from sinning. This is the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, which consists of three stages. First: “And you shall see them…” Second: “and you shall remember…” Third: “and you shall do…” This means that people should use their eyes to see the Tzitzis, then to think about them and how they represent all 613 Mitzvos, and finally to do the Mitzvos.
The Torah here reveals a great lesson. When one is compelled to sin by the evil inclination, the correct manner to counteract it is not to wait until the desire culminates, but to curtail it from the starting point.
The following example will better define this message. As everyone knows, one must wait an extended period of time after consuming meat before consuming dairy .If, for example, one had just eaten meat, and shortly afterward he is faced with a dairy chocolate bar, he may become tempted to eat it. Based on the aforementioned, there is a three step process to sin. First he sees the chocolate bar. Then his mind begins contemplating it and the thought is further exacerbated. Only then can he succumb to his craving, despite the fact that it is forbidden. Although his desire is enormous, he is still required to restrain himself from sinning. This is a most difficult task which opposes human nature.
The Torah is therefore teaching that the correct mode of action against such a powerful inclination is not to refrain at its climax, but to divert one’s attention to a different direction. This is what the Pasuk means by, “And you shall see them…,” meaning that when a person is confronted with a desire-based sin, he should redirect his eyes towards a different direction. This is the Mitzvah of Tzitzis, which the Torah has provided as an object to look at and sidetrack one’s mind in times of sin.
This idea can be taken a step further and applied to breaking addictions. If one were addicted to playing guitar, for example, the correct mode of action would not be to lock it up in a room, for it would still be on his mind. What he must first do is to realize that he is currently at Stage 3 of his desire, i.e., “the body does the sin.” To counteract it, he would need to return to Stage 1, i.e., to sidetrack his thoughts off his guitar. This can be accomplished, for example, through accepting a demanding responsibility, which would inevitably take over his mind. The guitar should be left accessible so that he would feel that the only reason he is not playing it is because he is too busy. After a while, the overwhelming desire will subside, bringing him to a tamped down Stage 2 desire, i.e., he only contemplates playing. At this point, his desire will be weak enough that he can regain control over it.