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The Crown of Halacha

Shelach 5777 – Are You a Man or a Grasshopper

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Bamidbar 5777

Shelach 5777 – Are You a Man or a Grasshopper

In this week’s portion the spies returned with a negative report:

“There we saw the Nephilim, the sons of the giant from among the Nephilim, we were like grasshoppers in our eyes, and so we were in their eyes.” (13:33)

“The entire assembly raised up and issued its voice; the people wept that night.” (14:1)

At that moment it was decreed that the BaisHamikdash would be destroyed. It was the night of Tisha B’av.  Hakodesh Baruch Hu said, “Since you cried for no reason, I will give you a reason to cry.”

Is Destroying the BaisHamikdash a Natural Consequence?

At first, this punishment seems out of proportion. Why was crying from the report of the spies worse than the sin of chait haagel or complaining about the mann? Why should that day be inscribed for generations as a day of recurring tragedies?

Why are Some Sharks Small and Others Big?

With the help of a moshal, we can answer the question. Years ago I went to an aquarium shop. One wall was dedicated to tanks of sharks. Each tank was a different size and held a shark that fit it exactly. “This is amazing,” I exclaimed. “How were you able to find so many different sized sharks?”

The store owner laughed in reply, “All sharks start out the same size. However, they will grow only as big as the aquarium you put them in!” This idea also applies to people. A person will grow according to the limits placed on him. In most cases, we limit ourselves with false beliefs and harmful messages rather than fully relying on our emunah in Hashem to help us succeed.

How Do You View Yourself?

On their return, the spies brought two messages. The first was, “We were like grasshoppers in our eyes.” Here we see how seriously they limited themselves and Hashem’s promise. This was bad enough but not yet deserving of terrible recurring punishment. It was the second message that sealed judgment against us; “And so we were in their eyes.”  The proper response was not to care. By measuring ourselves through the eyes of the Naphilim we imposed limitations upon ourselves. This is kafira (denying Hashem’s existence) and because of this our crying (which expressed our acceptance of the spies’ interpretation) deserved a greater punishment than any other transgression until then.

A Jew on the World Stage

We must learn from the mistake of the spies. As Jews, following the laws of Torah, we should not be concerned with world opinion. Anything less is assimilation, whether it is following a certain fad or whether it is apologizing for defending our people.  Today, the tikun of the spies is to view ourselves only through the eyes Torah and to rejoice in the life that only the Torah can give. By doing so we release our unlimited potential.

Series Navigation<< Beha’aloscha 5777 – Children of HashemKorach 5777 – The Power of Free Choice >>
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