These divrei Torah are dedicated in honor of my brother in law Chaim Snow, whose encouragement and love for Eretz Yisrael, Torat Yisrael and Am Yisrael are an inspiration to all who are privileged to know him...
We are in the midst of an interesting cycle. In the Gola (outside of the land of Israel) the second day of Shavuot corresponded to Shabbat. As such, in Diaspora Jewish communities, the Torah reading was the designated reading for festivals from the section of Parshat Re-ay, in Devarim; while in Israel, Parshat Naso, was recited. As such the Jews of the Gola, will make up this one week gap by reciting both Chukat and Balak together as a double reading just a few weeks from now...
As such, in Israel this coming Shabbat the sidra to be read will be Parshat Shelach.
It is fortuitous that as my wife and I arrive as new olim, to live in Israel, that the reading we will hear this coming Shabbat speaks of the story of the meraglim, those sent out by Moses to scout out and report on the land the Jewish people were about to inherit.
As many might be familiar, the majority of those who went to assess the land, came back with a report that the land was inhabited by mighty and fierce peoples, that the conditions were less than ideal for us to make this journey, and that surely it would be too difficult for the Jewish people to enter into the land and to dwell therein.
Calev ben Yefuneh, who together with Joshua represented the descending opinion, offered encouraging words, and strongly urged the Jewish people to continue with their mission and come to dwell upon the land’s sacred soil.
As the verse states:
“Vayahas Calev et HaAm el Moshe, vayomer: ‘Alo naaleh veyarashnu ota, ki yachol nuchal la...”
“And Calev stirred on the Nation toward Moses, and said: ‘We should go up immediately, and possess it as we are certainly capable to do so...’’
In Aish Kodesh, The Piascezna Rebbe, Rabbi Kalonimus Kalman Shapira zt'l, in one of the many powerful messages he delivered during the years he ministered to our many Jewish brothers and sisters in the hell of the Warsaw ghetto, asked a very poignant question on this verse.
Why doesn’t Calev try to refute the claims of the other spies in specific terms? Why does he not try to address each of their negative comments individually?
The Aish Kodesh explains, that Calev is in essence teaching us a fundamental idea in addressing the many challenges the Jewish people have faced and will face throughout history. Sometimes when we begin to assess rational answers, when we try to understand the nature of the relationship between God, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel, in merely rational physical human terms, we might end up convincing ourselves that the odds of overcoming that particular challenging event might be beyond our capabilities and we might abandon our effort, losing faith in our capacity to succeed.
But Calev reminds us so clearly, ki yachol nuchal la- we are certainly capable to do so- as the Rebbe explained to those suffering in the Warsaw Ghetto, a Jew must never give up hope, must never lose sight of that no matter how enormous the odds, how ominous things might appear, God is there with us, in our struggles and pain, and in our successes and celebrations.
As my wife and I celebrate the gift of living in a generation when indeed yachol nuchal la- and the incredible blessing of our arrival as new olim, what more precious message, what more propitious reading could we possibly merit to hear as we celebrate our first Shabbat together as residents of the beautiful Judean Hills?
Baruch shehechiyanu v'kiyimanu vehigianu lazman hazeh...
Shabbat Shalom Umevorach...Rabbi Sam Shor