The Torah portion Shlach
opens with G-d saying to Moshe: "Send out men 'for yourself' to explore the land ... which I am giving to the children of Israel."
Our Sages comment
that by stating "for yourself," G-d was in effect telling Moshe, "Send them according to your understanding; I am not commanding you."
Since G-d had already promised the Jews that He would lead them into Eretz Yisrael, why indeed did Moshe find it necessary to spy out the land?
The commentaries explain that Moshe did not send the spies to see whether the Jews should conquer the land, rather he sent them merely to ascertain the manner by which the land could best be conquered. For inasmuch as "One does not rely on a miracle" and the Jewish people had to prepare to conquer the land through battle, Moshe sent spies to determine the optimum method of attack and conquest.
A contrary question, however, now arises: Since it was necessary to send out spies, why didn't G-d command Moshe to do so; why did He leave it entirely up to Moshe?
But this was really the crux of the matter: Since the conquest of the land by natural means necessitated the sending of spies, once G-d commanded that the land be conquered, it becomes self-understood that this also entails sending spies -- a special command to do so would be superfluous.
By way of illustration: When the Torah commands circumcision it does not concurrently command that a circumcision-knife be prepared. Since circumcision cannot be performed without a knife, Torah need not command that one prepare a knife for the performance of the commandment. So, too, with all the other mitzvos: The Torah commands their performance, not the inevitable preparations leading up to their attainment.
On a more profound level, G-d does not specify how to go about the preliminaries to performing a commandment because He desires to provide the individual with the opportunity of ponder and toil with his own mind how best to perform the mitzvah.
So, too, when G-d told Moshe "Send them if you so understand [that it is necessary do so]; I am not commanding you": G-d was communicating to Moshe that He was leaving the details of how exactly to go about conquering the land up to Moshe himself, that he labor intellectually as to how to best go about performing the mitzvah of conquering the land.
The above carries a unique lesson for our generation: The Rebbe -- Moshe of our generation -- entrusted each and every one of us in this, the last generation in exile, with the mission of concluding the last remnants of divine service in the "barren desert" of exile, preparing the way for our entry and complete conquest of Eretz Yisrael and the entire world.
The Nasi of our generation sent all Jews -- "Send out" -- as emissaries to "explore the land," to investigate and find the best way of conquering the world through the dissemination of Torah and mitzvos, and especially through the dissemination of Chassidus.
Since this "exploratory mission" was entrusted to us inasmuch as we are considered "discerning emissaries" -- one who lacks intelligence cannot become an emissary -- we are to use our own intellect to find the best possible manner of fulfilling this mission. We are not to act as a "spoiled only-child," who constantly inquires about the most minute details as to how to go about conducting his life. We are to decide what words will be most effective, what books should be disseminated, etc.
More importantly, the emissary is not informed of all the details of how to fulfill his mission, so that he may merit to perform the mission with his own powers.
Moreover, it is self-understood that the emissary's dispatcher provides his emissary with all the powers necessary not only to succeed in his mission, but also to make the proper decisions regarding those matters that are left up to his own perception and understanding. The emissary need but lend a "small finger" and he will succeed far beyond his wildest expectations.
Concurrently, we glean from the tale of the spies that only the manner of implementing the mission is left to the understanding of the emissary, the emissary, however, has no say as to the actual mission itself: Since the Moshe of his generation told him that this is his mission, he has no right to ponder whether or not to fulfill it, maybe it's too difficult, and the like.
Additionally, even those aspects that are left to his own discernment are also to be based on established Torah principles and upon the specific directives of the individual who sent him on this mission.
When the emissary will act in this manner, he is assured that all his actions will conform to the will of the Moshe of his generation who dispatched him on this precious mission, fulfilling his task of bringing the complete and speedy redemption through Mashiach.
Based on Sefer HaSichos 5748, Vol. II, pp. 490-497.
One of the complaints of the Jewish people resulting from the incitement and negative report of the spies regarding Eretz Yisrael
"Our women and our small children
shall become captives." We also find this wording in G-d's response to their complaint:
"As for your small children
of whom you said 'they shall become captives' ... they
shall possess it [Eretz Yisrael
This needs to be understood. The fear of captivity was of course not limited to only small children falling captive, it extended to the older children as well. Why, then, the expression "small children"?
While we may well understand why the spies would want to emphasize the captivity of the small children -- this would be most frightening of all, as a parents' love and sense of protection is most manifest with regard to their small child, this does not, however explain why G-d used this very same term, emphasizing that it is the "small children who shall possess the land."
Evidently, the entry, possession and inheritance of the land are in some way more closely related to small children than to older children and adults. What is that relationship?
Our Sages tell us, "A child crumbles more than it eats." In spiritual terms, bread is symbolic of Torah, and Torah and mitzvos are referred to as "food and drink." Herein lies a difference between those who are "older" in terms of their Torah knowledge and those who are merely "small children":
Those who are spiritually mature spend most of their time and efforts on Torah and mitzvos, and their Torah and mitzvos themselves are as they should be. This is not the case with those who are spiritually immature, spiritual "babes in the woods." Most of their time and most of their efforts are spent doing other things, and even the Torah and mitzvos that they do perform is done with ulterior motives.
This is the meaning of "crumbling more than it eats": A spiritually immature individual's Torah and mitzvos readily crumbles -- more than what enters within him is crumbled and falls by the wayside.
Only when Torah and mitzvos are practiced lishmah, for their own sake and with a true sense of inwardness, will all of the person's study and deeds become food and garments for his holy soul. Those who are as yet spiritual neophytes will have only a small amount of their actions performed with a true sense of inwardness -- most of it will be "crumbly," shallow and external.
Thus the spies argued that entering Eretz Yisrael would bring them down to the level of "small children who crumble their food":
Since the life of the Jewish people in the desert was entirely spiritual and inward-directed, while life in Eretz Yisrael entailed much interaction with the physical and the corporeal, it would be better, the spies said, not to enter the land. For upon entering Eretz Yisrael, most of the time would be taken up with material matters, and even the little time devoted to Torah and mitzvos would be external and "crumbled."
G-d's response to this complaint was: "As for your small children of whom you said 'they shall become captives' ... it is they whom I shall bring to the land and it is they who shall possess it":
The service of "small children" -- those involved with material and corporeal matters and enmeshed in the mundane -- who nevertheless compel themselves to perform Torah and mitzvos, is more precious in G-d's eyes than the sublime service of the "adults" in the desert.
"A verse does not lose its simple meaning," and the plain meaning of "small children" is in the literal sense -- of tender age. And here, too, we find and advantage of "small children" in the literal sense, analogous to the advantage of "small children" in the spiritual sense:
Although the actual level and degree of the Torah study of small children is of a lower order than adults, yet in many respects it is more precious to G-d than the Torah study of adults.
The Midrash comments that even if a child mistakes, skips over or omits the name of G-d in his recitation of verses of the Torah and the like, it still evokes His love. For as the child's action is based on his or her love for G-d, it evokes a great measure of G-dly love in response.
So great is G-d's love for small children and so important is their Torah study, that G-d gave the Torah to the entire Jewish people only by virtue of the children -- "Our children are our guarantors."
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, pp. 581-583
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 13:2.
- (Back to text) Sotah 34b.
- (Back to text) Ramban, beginning of Shlach; see also Or HaChayim, ibid.
- (Back to text) Pesachim 64b.
- (Back to text) Rambam, Hilchos Shluchin v'Shutfin 2:2; Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 188:2.
- (Back to text) See beginning of Shir HaShirim Rabbah and Koheles Rabbah.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar 14:3.
- (Back to text) Devarim 1:39.
- (Back to text) See Hoshea 11:1.
- (Back to text) Lekach Tov on Bereishis 47:12.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar Rabbah end of ch. 8; Tikunei Zohar, Introduction p. 1b. See also Shabbos 120a and Bereishis Rabbah 43:6.
- (Back to text) Koheles Rabbah 2:24.
- (Back to text) See Tanya, end of ch. 39.
- (Back to text) See Zohar, Vol. II, p. 62b; Vayikra Rabbah 9:1.
- (Back to text) Shabbos 63a,
- (Back to text) Shir HaShirim Rabbah 2:4.
- (Back to text) Ibid., 1:4; Midrash Tehillim 8:4; Tanchuma, Vayigash 2.