Shelach Lecha 5777

Rabbi Boruch Kibel

שלח לך אנשים ויתורו את ארץ כנען (במדבר יג:ב)

Send for yourself people and they will spy out the land of Canaan (Bamidbar 13:2)

Rashi asks, “Why is the story of the meraglim next to the story of Miriam? Since she was punished for speaking lashon hara about her brother Aharon and these resha’im saw what happened, but they didn’t learn mussar from the story.”
Rav Shimon Schwab comments that it seems from Rashi that the main criticism with the meraglim is that they didn’t learn the lesson from the story of Miriam’s punishment, not from speaking lashon hara about Eretz Yisrael. Even though speaking lashon hara was an aveira long before the story of Miriam took place, Rashi says that was not why they were punished. It follows that there must be some aspect of hilchos lashon hara derived from this story that was not previously known.
Rav Schwab goes on to explain that lashon hara is an aveira that is bein adam lechaveiro, between man and man. The root of the aveira is that through this action, one is causing pain to another person. This would seem to imply that if the person being spoken about would not feel any pain or would not be insulted, there would be no issue. Accordingly, if one would talk negatively about some stones or trees, then he didn’t do anything wrong, since they don’t have any feelings. By this logic, the meraglim did nothing wrong by speaking badly about the land of Eretz Yisrael, because the land has no feeling.
Chazal are saying that based on this mistaken notion, the meraglim should have learned from the story of Miriam; that even if the subject being spoken about has no feeling, still one may not say anything negative. Immediately after Miriam spoke negatively about Moshe, the Torah says, והאיש משה עניו מאד (במדבר יב:ג), “Moshe was the most humble of all men” (Bamidbar 12:3). Because of this humility, Miriam was not guilty of speaking “regular” lashon hara; her speech had caused absolutely no hurt feelings to him, so it was as if she was talking about a stone. Even so, she was punished, because in demeaning Moshe, she was degrading an item of kedusha. This is forbidden because anything kodesh has the name of Hashem in it. What Miriam did was essentially degrading Hashem.
So, too, Eretz Yisrael is an item of kedusha. By degrading the land, one is dishonoring Hashem. This is what the Torah is teaching by putting the parsha of the meraglim next to the story of Miriam.
Regarding the entire story of the meraglim and their actions, it is very hard to understand how this terrible outcome could occur. The meraglim were the leaders of their shevatim. The Chiddushei Harim says the problem the meraglim had with going into Eretz Yisrael stemmed from their righteousness. Being tzadikim, they loved their life in the midbar, a life of complete ruchnius. The manna came to their doorstep daily. They did not have to worry about parnassa or any other physical matters. Everything was taken care of for them. They knew this would all end when they went into Eretz Yisrael, and the nonstop ruchnius would be over.
Knowing this would happen, they felt it would be better not to enter the land. They were not lacking in bitachon in Hashem and therefore afraid they could not stand up to the giants. Rather, they felt there could no better way to serve Hashem than a life in the midbar, with all their physical needs taken care of and the ability to spend all day in total ruchnius.
However, this is not what Hashem wants from us. He wants us as Jews to live in a physical world where we have to deal with everything in that world, aiming to sanctify every action for the sake of Hashem.
The Sefas Emes adds to the Chiddushei Harim’s comments and notes that following the story of the meraglim in the Torah, three mitzvos are introduced: nesachim, wine libations on the Mizbeach; challah; and tzitzis. Why these 3 mitzvos? He says that these mitzvos demonstrate a connection between the two worlds, olam hazeh and olam haba.
Hashem wants us to work hard and plant a vineyard. After the harvest, we are to take those grapes, make wine out of them, and bring them on the mizbeach. So, too, after planting wheat and then making bread, we separate challah. A similar process applies to raising sheep and spinning the wool. This process doesn’t seem to be one of kedusha, yet there is a mitzvah to wear tzitzis.
The Torah specifically taught these mitzvos after the story of the meraglim. The lesson to be drawn is that our job is to try to bridge the two worlds and do everything for the sake of Hashem.


Rabbi Shmuel Lieberman
The melacha of Tzod, trapping, was performed in the Mishkan when animals were trapped to be killed for their hides, which were then fashioned into the coverings of the Mishkan. The Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 15, 41) was asked an unusual question regarding Tzod. A couple wanted to know if they may lock their children in their home before heading out on a walk. Is Tzod limited to trapping animals, or can people also be “trapped”?
The Gemara (Menachos 64a) discusses one who, while fishing on Shabbos, unwittingly saved a child who had fallen into the ocean. While casting his net with the intent to catch fish, the fisherman also caught the child. Rava maintains that he is liable for the forbidden act of fishing, while Rabba exempts him. Tosafos (s.v. leha’alos) explains that Rava’s opinion is not at odds with the rule of הואיל (literally, “since”). הואיל teaches that one may cook on Yom Tov, even for the following weekday, “since” guests may arrive on Yom Tov and the cooked food will be needed on Yom Tov. Here, too, it can be argued that הואיל ופטר ליה אתינוק, “since” the fisherman is anyways not liable for rescuing the child, he should be similarly exempt from punishment incurred by fishing. (See there for Tosafos’ resolution.)
The Sefer HaKovetz (to Rambam, Shabbos 10:22) and Avnei Neizer (O.C. 189:22) point out that the words הואיל ופטר ליה אתינוק indicate that in theory one would be forbidden to trap a child on Shabbos, yet the prohibition is waived here due to the aforementioned rule of פיקוח נפש. The Sefer HaKovetz adds that the wording of the Rambam (Shabbos 2:16), when codifying the halacha which results from this Gemara, seems to support this idea. Similar phraseology appears in Shulchan Aruch (328:13), implying that the Mechaber is also of this opinion. This appears to be the view of the Sfas Emes (Menachos ibid.) and Mekor Chaim (316:3) as well.
On the other hand, the Chemdas Yisrael (vol. 1, p. 61b and vol. 2, 21:4), Tzafnas Panei’ach (Shabbos 2:16), and Avi Ezri (Yom Tov 1:10) disagree. They insist that Tzod only applies to animals, not to people. This view, too, finds itself basis in Shulchan Aruch (339:4), where the Mechaber rules that we do not issue legal rulings on Shabbos. The Rema adds, “Therefore, one may not arrest and imprison one who is liable to punishment, so as to prevent him from fleeing,” inferring that the singular reason to prohibit incarceration is because of the Rabbinical ban on judging, not because of the Biblical melacha of Tzod.
Perhaps the two opinions differ in the fundamental understanding of Tzod. The Chazon Ish (50:3) describes Tzod as “the removal of a creature’s freedom,” whereas Rav Nissim Karelitz (Toras HaMelachos vol. 5, p. 189) understands Tzod as “preparing the creature for its intended purpose,” such as slaughter or consumption. According to the Chazon Ish, trapping people can ostensibly be prohibited, as the freedom of the person has been removed by virtue of his immobility. According to Rav Nissim Karelitz, though, trapping a person isn’t a preparation for any specific purpose, so Tzod does not apply.
A proof to the latter opinion can be brought from this week’s parsha. The מקושש עצים was found violating Shabbos and was summarily brought before Moshe and Aharon to determine his fate. Chazal (Sifri 15:57) explain that although it was already known that חילול שבת is punishable by death, the precise death penalty was unknown. The pasuk (Bamidbar 15:34) says that until this information became available, ויניחו אתו במשמר, “And they placed him in custody.” Although some (Rabbeinu Bechaye, ibn Ezra) understand that this incarceration took place on Motzaei Shabbos, others (Shvus Yaakov vol. 1, 14; Bigdei Yesha 339:4) argue that if so, why would the מקושש not flee on Shabbos? Rather, they assert that the incarceration took place on Shabbos, to preclude an escape. This concurs with those who maintain that imprisoning, i.e., trapping, a person does not involve Tzod.
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos KeHilchasa 27 §119) offers guidelines regarding trapping people on Shabbos, which may help solve the apparent contradiction in Shulchan Aruch, and refute the proof from the מקושש. He understands the melacha of Tzod like the Chazon Ish, explaining it to be “the removal of a creature’s freedom.” Thus, he explains, with regards to trapping people, it depends on the type of person being trapped. If the person is mentally unstable and detests civilization, trapping him can perhaps be prohibited, for such a person no longer has the freedom to escape to the forests. However, one who is a functioning member of society but requires incarceration due to his running afoul of the law is not considered trapped when others catch him, since to an extent, he remains a part of civilization even after his imprisonment. The same applies to one who wishes to be “trapped,” such as a drowning victim, as his true freedom is dependent on being rescued.
It can be suggested that a drowning baby, however, who has no concept of life-threatening situations, may fall under the first category. Hence, the Gemara in Menachos, the Rambam (Shabbos 2:16), and the Shulchan Aruch (328:13) are all discussing trapping a baby, and consequently imply that Tzod does indeed apply, whereas the Rema (339:4) and the case of the מקושש entail trapping a sane adult who committed a crime (legal or spiritual). As explained, trapping such people does not involve Tzod.