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Isolation vs. Co-Existance

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner
Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

In this week’s Torah portion, we read how the Jews sent one person from each tribe to spy on the land of Israel.  The spies came back and ten of them said that the land is too strong for us to conquer.  Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb gave an extremely good report of the land.  The Jewish people accepted the report of the ten spies and started crying over their plight. This made G-d angry and he decreed that they would all die in the desert and only their children would enter into the land of Israel.

At first glance, this story seems hard to understand.  Hadn’t the Jewish people seen multiple supernatural miracles in the Exodus of Egypt? Why was it so difficult for them to believe that just as G-d performed multiple miracles in the Exodus so too, he would continue to perform miracles in the conquering of the land of Israel, even if they believed that the conquering the land of Israel was a greater feat than the Exodus of Egypt?

The commentaries tell us that what led to their rebellion was that the spies had an ulterior motive of not wanting to enter the land of Israel.  The reason that they did not want to enter the land was that they did not want to struggle to keep the Torah.  While they were in the desert, they were isolated from other nations.  They had food in a miraculous way through the Manna and many other miracles took place in the desert.  However, they knew that once they entered the land of Israel, all these miracles would cease and they would face a constant struggle to keep the commandments under all the restraints of making a living, dealing with other nations and other material physical challenges.

However, this manner of thinking was erroneous, since the spirituality reached through the isolation from worldliness is a limited form of spirituality that can not tolerate natural phenomenon. But, by entering the land of Israel and infusing it with spirituality, the Jewish people would reach an infinitely higher level of Spirituality and thereby fulfill G-d’s desire of creating a home for His essence in our physical world.

About Rabbi Pesach Scheiner

Rabbi Pesach Scheiner is the Rabbi of Boulder County Center for Judaism. In addition, he teaches extensively throughout Boulder County and is the author of "Finding the Joy in Everyday Living," a book of short chapters explaining the ways to access happiness through appreciation, gratitude, and a sense of purpose.

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