Friday, July 01, 2016

Really nice, but: the Meraglim's report

Send for yourself: According to your own understanding. I am not commanding you, but if you wish, you may send. Since the Israelites had come [to Moses] and said, “Let us send men ahead of us,” as it says, “All of you approached me…” (Deut. 1:22), Moses took counsel with the Shechinah . He [God] said, “I told them that it is good, as it says, ‘I will bring you up from the affliction of Egypt…’ (Exod. 3:17). By their lives! Now I will give them the opportunity to err through the words of the spies, so that they will not inherit it.” - [Midrash Tanchuma 5]שלח לך: לדעתך, אני איני מצוה לך, אם תרצה שלח, לפי שבאו ישראל ואמרו (דברים א, כב) נשלחה אנשים לפנינו, כמה שנאמר (שם) ותקרבון אלי כלכם וגו', ומשה נמלך בשכינה. אמר אני אמרתי להם שהיא טובה, שנאמר (שמות ג, יז) אעלה אתכם מעני מצרים וגו', חייהם שאני נותן להם מקום לטעות 


For this week's parsha, my grandfather quotes Rashi (copied above) and then points out that Ramban says that according to that view, one would have to say that moshe chata [erred ] in this instance, as he admitted that it was good in his eyes  וַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינַי הַדָּבָר? (Devarim 1: 23) He also questions what did the meraglim do wrong if they were sent on this mission to report what they did see?  Surely, they weren't expected to lie. 

For the first question, he answers that it was relatively good, as in the lesser of two evils. As we see from the Rashi's interpretation of the suggestion to send  meraglim in Devarim 1:22 
And you approached me-all of you:: in a state of disorder. But further on (Deut. 5:20-21) it says, “You approached me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders, and you said, Behold [the Lord, our God] has shown us [His glory and His greatness].” That approach to me was proper-young people respecting their elders, sending these before them. Here, however, you approached me all of you, in a state of disorder, the young pushing aside their elders, the elders pushing aside their heads.ותקרבון אלי כלכם: בערבוביא, ולהלן הוא אומר (דברים ה, כ - כא) ותקרבון אלי כל ראשי שבטיכם וזקניכם ותאמרו הן הראנו וגו', אותה קריבה היתה הוגנת. ילדים מכבדים את הזקנים ושלחום לפניהם, וזקנים מכבדים את הראשים ללכת לפניהם, אבל כאן, ותקרבון אלי כולכם, בערבוביא. ילדים דוחפין את הזקנים וזקנים דוחפין את הראשים:
My grandfather also says that he saw the Ohr Hachaim say, if Moshe had not given in to them in this case, they would have rebelled in a way that would have proved more chaotic than the meraglim.

On the question of what was the chet of the meraglim who appear to merely be fulfilling their mission, my grandfather answers: they switched the order of the mission. Moshe told them first to see the land and what it is, as Rashi says: 
what [kind of] land it is: Some countries rear strong people, and some countries rear weak [people]; some produce large populations and some small populations. — [Mid. Tanchuma 6]את הארץ מה היא: יש ארץ מגדלת גבורים ויש ארץ מגדלת חלשים יש מגדלת אוכלוסין ויש ממעטת 
That was the primary mission; the secondary one was to note the quality of the land, if it is good or bad, fat or lean.

The purpose of this order was that they should be matchilin begnut [begin with the bad new] and finish up with the praise [or good news].  That fits with what Rashi say on verse 17:
Go up this way in the south: This was the inferior part of the Land of Israel. This is the custom of merchants; they show their inferior goods first and afterward display their best. — [Midrash Tanchuma 6]עלו זה בנגב: הוא היה הפסולת של ארץ ישראל, שכן דרך התגרים מראין את הפסולת תחלה ואחר כך מראין את השבח:
But they shifted the order, beginning with the praise of the fertility of the land and ending with the negative report:



27They told him and said, "We came to the land to which you sent us, and it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.כזוַיְסַפְּרוּ לוֹ וַיֹּאמְרוּ בָּאנוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר שְׁלַחְתָּנוּ וְגַם זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ הִוא וְזֶה פִּרְיָהּ
28 אֶפֶס כִּי עַז הָעָם הַיּשֵׁב בָּאָרֶץ וְהֶעָרִים בְּצֻרוֹת גְּדֹלֹת מְאֹד וְגַם יְלִדֵי הָעֲנָק רָאִינוּ שָׁם
28However, the people who inhabit the land are mighty, and the cities are extremely huge and fortified, and there we saw even the offspring of the giant.

In doing so, they revealed their evil intention. The sin lies not just in saying the word "אֶפֶס," as the Ramban says. Rather it was the order of presentation, for the last thing is the one that leaves the strongest impresion.
Related post: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2015/10/dvar-yehudah-parsha-points-from-my.html

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