Parshas Shelach

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

היש בה עץ אם אין…ולקחתם מפרי הארץ (פרק יג פסוק כ)

Moshe sends the spies to scout out the land of Israel and instructs them to see if there is a tree and to bring fruit from the land. Rashi explains that the tree symbolizes a good and proper person who could protect the inhabitants with their merits. The Satmar Rebbe asks, how does the end of the analogy make sense- to take from the fruit of the land, how does this translate into a good person who has merits? Additionally, how could they tell who is a good person, only Hashem knows a person’s thoughts and their true level? R’ Yoel explains that if a person is a tree, then their “fruit” is their children and students. Moshe was telling the spies that they should search if there is a good person there and they should “take the fruit” i.e. look at the children and students of that person to determine the actual quality of the person. To discover the true essence of a person one can look at their protégé and if their products are good, then it speaks volumes of their inner quality.

ויהושע בן נון וכלב בן יפנה חיו מן האנשים ההם (פרק יד פסוק לח)

Yehoshua and Calev, the two spies who withstood the social influence of the other ten, were granted life “from the other men”. Rashi explains this to mean that they will take the portion of land in Israel that had been destined to go to the other spies. R’ Aharon Kotler explains that we find many times that righteous people receive the reward of the evil people around them. How are we to understand this? Why is this fair? R’ Aharon offers two explanations. Firstly, the evil people present a challenge and a test for the righteous people, especially by the spies where the easiest thing to do would have been to go along with what everyone else was doing. When the righteous can stand up to this test, they deserve “payment” from the very people that inflicted it upon them in the first place. Another approach is that the purpose of the world is for mankind to fulfill the Torah and Hashem’s Will. Therefore, the righteous are the true purpose of creation and the whole world is here for them. This that the evil people exist and are allowed to benefit from the world, is only in the merit of the righteous. It is logical therefore, that everything that the evildoers have, really belongs to the righteous.

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