Parshat Shelach 5781: The Miraglim, Lag B’Omer Tragedy and Israeli Political Egos

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua Sh’lach is being sponsored by Dr. Eli and Miri Behar of Ramat Beit Shemesh L’ilui Nishmas for the Yahrtzeit of Yerachmiel Meir ben Nissim Avraham. To the Behar family, many thanks for your sponsorship and continued kindness.

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Moshe Burt
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Parshat Shelach 5781: The Miraglim, Lag B’Omer Tragedy and Israeli Political Egos

by Moshe Burt

This author has indicated in previous Parshiyot Hashavua that they are compiled three to four weeks before the Shabbos of the Parsha. And so, our Parshat Shelach is compiled against the backdrop of the recent Lag B’Omer tragedy in Meron.

In previous vorts on Parshat Shelach, this author discussed the errant protocol of the miraglim, their bogus “but, “modern-day parallels to the miraglim’s false conclusions and the ongoing battle for the collective soul of Am Yisrael.

This vort on our Parsha deals with the possible agenda(s) behind the miraglim’s (spies) testimony given before the people, ignoring command protocol which would have had them report directly to Moshe and Aaron for debriefing.

We open with an excerpt from Rabbi Goldin’s summary of our Parshat Shelach in his sefer, “Unlocking The Torah Text” on Sefer Bamidbar ( page 117):

Upon their return, the spies [miraglim], with the exception of Calev ben Yefuneh and Yehoshua ben Nun, offer discouraging testimony concerning [their opinion of] the nation’s inability to conquer the inhabitants of Canaan. In despair, and ignoring the counterarguments of Calev and Yehoshua, the nation rises in rebellion against Hashem, Moshe and Aaron.

The populous of the nation had already rebelled numerous times against Hashem as Torah related in last week’s Parshat Beha’alotcha. This author excerpts portions of Rabbi Goldin’s Parshat Beha’alotcha Parsha Summary (ibid, pages 69-70):

Immediately upon leaving Sinai, the nation begins to complain. Hashem responds with a devastating Heavenly fire that is lifted only as a result of Moshe’s prayers.

An even more serious rebellion develops as [some] within the camp convince the nation to demand food other than the miraculous manna. Moshe turns… to Hashem, bemoaning the difficulty of caring for the people, his inability to lead the nation alone and the impossibility of providing Am Yisrael with the meat they desire.

Hashem responds to Moshe’s pleas… [and] commands Moshe to inform the people that their demands for meat will be answered — to their everlasting regret.

A Heaven-sent wind sends an influx of quail into the camp, providing the nation with the meat that they so desperately desire. As the Jews consume these provisions, Hashem strikes “a mighty blow against the people,” causing many of the nation to die.

So we find that the stage was already set, due to the peoples’ rebellions, prior to the episode of the miraglim.

Our Parshat Shelach opens:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, ‘Send forth for yourself men, and let them spy out the Land of Canaan that I give to the B’nei Yisrael…” (Perek 13, posukim 1-2 as rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition — The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary” on Sefer Bamidbar)

Rashi comments on the above posukim:

“Send forth for yourself” — by your discretion. I do not command you to do so: if you wish, send forth. “For yourself” implies that Hashem was not ordering Moshe to send forth the spies, but rather, was leaving the decision to him [Moshe] (Rashi citing Devek Tov) Since Israel came and said — “Let us send men ahead of us,” as it says — “All of you approached me [and said, ‘Let us send men ahead of us’]. etc. and Moshe consulted the Shechinah. Hashem said, “I told them that [the Land] is good, as it says, — ‘I shall bring you up from the affliction of Egypt, etc.’ I swear by their lives that I give them room to err — through the words of the spies — so that they shall not take possession of it.” This explains why Hashem agreed to sending the spies although He did not order it. Hashem wished to give the B’nei Yisrael the option of sending the spies, and sinning through them, because they showed a lack of faith by suggesting that they be sent. (Rashi cites Tanhuma 5 and Sotah 34b and Devek Tov)

Regarding the tragedy in Meron, this author has seen media accounts ranging from claims alleging that certain political entities have blocked necessary repairs and alterations which would have made the Meron facilities safe for the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the grave of the Tzaddik Shimon Bar Yochai on Lag B’Omer. There have also been accounts placing the blame for the tragedy on a whole host of authorities from government ministries, to alleged police harshness and brutality, to the supreme court, to lack of a stable governing coalition and to all political sectors with their egos, agendas and self-serving blame games.

But what could be the Heavenly message of this tragic event on Lag B’Omer in Meron? Observant Jews throughout the ages hold as axiomatic that every event throughout history is for the benefit of the Jews. Rabbis are speaking to their kehillot with the message of Ahavat Chinom. Rabbi Avishai David of Beit Knesset Beit Tefillah Yona Avraham has given talks, here and here, regarding the need of Am Yisrael for Ahavat Chinom in the aftermath of the Meron tragedy.

Just as the self-interest of the miraglim seemed an outgrowth of the disunity, lack of emunah in, and rebellion against Hashem, could it be that today, the divisiveness and egotistical self-interests of Israel’s governance — from the police, to the politicians, to the ministerial bureaucracies, and the supreme court could be the outgrowth of the disunity, alienation and discord among the various sectors of the populous?

Is that the Divine message behind the pleas of our Rabbanim for Ahavat Chinom?

Rabbi Goldin concludes (ibid, page 128):

….As is often the case, the most tragic moments in Judaism carry within them the seeds of optimism and redemption.

Each generation of our people lives on in those that follow. This ongoing truth will power our people across history and represents the substance of My “forgiveness” for your sin.

Our generation. blessed with the return of the Jews to their homeland, does not stand alone. Sacrifices of countless individuals and communities long gone were required to enable us to achieve this goal. Through their hopes, dreams and aspirations, those generations accompany us on our passage. Any successes we achieve are theirs, as concretely as they are ours.

And we will accompany our children, and their children after them, on the continuing journey towards the culminating moments of our people’s destiny.

These seeds of optimism that Rabbi Goldin speaks of seem to depend, in the moments that we are currently in: the aftermath of the Meron tragedy, the repeated recent spate of terror stabbings, rocket attacks from Gaza, Iran and Biden’s appeasement and more, on the forming an awakened, stable, real government rather than a fifth, sixth or seventh round of fruitless elections. Optimism depends on all governing bureaucrats — ministries, police, supreme court, and all sectors dropping their egos, agendas and blame game.

American President Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here.” It’s about time that Israel’s governance knocked off the blame game and got down to work in Am Yisrael’s interests al Kiddush Hashem, rather than in their own personal self-interests.

And optimism and our redemption depend upon, in Divine terms which the Rabbanim have spoken in the days post-tragedy, our ability for Ahavat Chinom — senseless love for our brethren, for our fellow Jews.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.