Shlach 5751: To Conquer and Settle the Land

In the sicha of Parshas Shlach the Rebbe contrasts the spies who were sent by Moshe Rabbeinu in the parsha, and the spies sent by Yehoshua in the haftorah.  By contrasting the differences, the Rebbe identifies for us two differing paths in our service of Hashem (and in “entering the land” — bringing the Geuloh) “which complement each other and complete each other for the sake of a singular goal, the conquest of and the entering into the land.”

The spies sent by Yehoshua were for the sake on conquering the land, whereas those sent by Moshe were supposed to aid and encourage entering the land (which includes settling the land after it is conquered).  Moshe’s spies were assigned the task of scouting out the goodness of the land, to give Bnei Yisroel a tangible idea of the special land that awaits them (by bringing back the enormous fruits of the land), and through this to arouse in the Yidden a desire and excitement to enter Eretz Yisroel.  As we know, the spies contradicted their mission and tried to scare Bnei Yisroel away from entering the land as a result of “mixing in” to Moshe Rabbeinu’s instructions.  But, explains the Rebbe, in truth they did accomplish their mission: when Bnei Yisroel entered the land after 40 years wandering in the desert (the consequence of the spies “mixing in”), they did so with excitement that came from what they learned from those same spies.  “If only they hadn’t caused damage by what they added to the shlichus (regarding [the doubting the success of] conquering the land)…then all of Bnei Yisroel would have entered the land of Israel immediately with joy and great desire.”

The Rebbe proceeds to identify the points of difference between the two groups of spies:

  • 12 spies (Moshe), 2 spies (Yehoshua);
  • Tribal leaders (Moshe), unidentified men (Yehoshua);
  • Sent “in your opinion” (Moshe), sent by command of Hashem (Yehoshua);
  • To “scout” the entire land (Moshe), to “spy out” Yericho only (Yehoshua);
  • Travel openly (Moshe), travel secretly (Yehoshua);
  • Identify the nature of the land and the people (Moshe), identify the morale of the population (Yehoshua).

Seemingly, these are completely different kinds of shlichus, deriving from the fact that under Moshe they would have entered the land miraculously, whereas in the times of Yehoshua they needed to conquer the land in a natural manner.  But, as mentioned above, the Rebbe says that they complement and even complete each other, and this is also true in our avoidas Hashem to “enter the land” (bring the Geuloh).  The spies of Moshe represent the inyan of “differentiation” (התחלקות), the unique and special qualities that different elements possess (to be explained momentarily).  The spies of Yehoshua represent the inyan of “unity” (אחדות), where all differences are subsumed and nullified in the common underlying unity.

These differing aspects and approaches manifest themselves in the following areas:

  • Torah is the aspect of unity, the wisdom of Hashem — just as He is One, so too His wisdom is One.  Mitzvos are the aspect of differentiation, each mitzvah involving different limbs, different objects, having different effects.
  • Within Torah itself there are these same two dimensions: Nigleh which is Torah as it differentiates to explain the various mitzvos, etc., and Pnimiyus Hatorah, which explains Elokus and reveals the unity of Hashem in all creation.
  • The Neshoma possesses unique and differentiated “soul powers” (כוחות הפרטים) (intellect, midos) which are applied in different situations, and also it possesses Bittul, which shows on the unity of all aspects of Divine service.

The Rebbe says that the avoidah of refining the world is primarily accomplished through the aspect of differentiation (where one can be better than another, etc.) because the aspect of unity is above the world (and, thus, cannot affect it so much).  Nonetheless, there is also a need for the dimension of unity which brings the avoidah of refining the world to its perfection — that G-dliness which is above the world is drawn down and revealed in the world to make true unity.

This is reflected in two groups of spies.  Moshe’s spies were sent “in accordance with your opinion” (Moshe Rabbeinu’s opinion), which itself reflects on the “differentiation” in Torah as it becomes enclothed in the person’s own intellect.  Yehoshua’s spies, however, were sent upon command of Hashem, the aspect of bittul and kabbolos ‘ol.  The 12 spies represent the different types of Divine service of the 12 tribes, each tribe being different in its strengths and weaknesses.  The 2 spies of Yehoshua show on bittul of all of the powers of the neshoma to the two primary directions of Divine service: positive mitzvos and negative mitzvos.

Each one of us needs to utilize both forms of “spying out the land” in order to properly conquer and settle it.  The actual conquering is best accomplished through the simplicity and bittul of Yehoshua’s spies.  But arousing a desire to enter the land, and to settle it properly demands the approach of Moshe’s spies who utilize their unique abilities and capabilities to accomplish their shlichus.

It is possible to say that when the two dimensions are combined, the bittul of Yehoshua’s spies will keep us away from the mistake of Moshe Rabbeinu’s spies (who “mixed in” and “added” something undesirable to their shlichus) — that even when we make use of our personal strengths and uniqueness we will remain true to the shlichus and succeed to both conquer the land and to settle the land (with joy and desire) and to bring the true and complete Geuloh!

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