by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
At first, the spies were important people, as it says, “All the men were leaders of the Israelites” (Numbers 13:3). Yet when Moses sent them to spy out the Land, they were transformed, as it says, “They departed and they came back” (13:26) – just as their arrival had been with bad intentions, so too, their departure (Rashi). From men who were supposed to exude a lofty spirit and strong faith in our right to Eretz Yisrael and our ability to conquer it, they became another type of people, people who only see the negative, libelers of Eretz Yisrael:
“‘We cannot go forward against those people!’ replied the men who had gone with him. ‘They are too strong for us!’ They began to speak badly about the land that they had explored. They told the Israelites, ‘The land that we crossed to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants. All the men we saw there were huge! While we were there, we saw the titans. They were sons of the giant, who descended from the original titans. We felt like tiny grasshoppers! That's all that we were in their eyes.” (13:31-33).
Only Joshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefune were steeped in faith and trust in G-d, and although they were in the minority, they ultimately succeeded in leading the Jewish People to the conquest of the Land and its settlement.
The spies “changed their skins,” altering their views as far as Eretz Yisrael. Rather than strengthening and encouraging the people, they frightened and demoralized them. Just so, in our own day, some of our prime ministers who have taken up the reins of leadership, have changed, altering their political world view despite their having been elected on the basis of their promise to the voters that they would be faithful to Eretz Yisrael and to settling every part of it.
When they were asked for an explanation of their extreme turnaround, they would answer, “What you see from you don’t see from there.” Yet actually that is just an excuse. They followed the path of the spies, whose faith in our right to Eretz Yisrael and in our ability to rule over it and to settle all of it dwindled to nothing.
This weakness stems from a lack of faith, a lack of spirit, and from moral deterioration. These in turn derive from their having distanced themselves from Jewish tradition, and their having never imbibed from our Jewish sources. It is from those sources that from time immemorial we have drawn our faith and trust in the Eternal One of Israel, and in our right to all of Eretz Yisrael. We believe in G-d’s having a goal of fulfilling the destiny of the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael, towards the enlightenment and betterment of all mankind.
Our leaders suffer a lack of self-confidence, and an inability to provide security to the citizens of our country. They hesitate, agonize and zigzag, and the price is paid by our country’s citizens. We saw this both with the recent Lebanese and Gaza war, and in Sderot and the adjoining settlements.
The call of the hour is to change the leadership of our beloved country, to elect leaders full of faith and trust in G-d, people with a vision and great, benevolent spirit. We need people of integrity who set an example by their own lives. We need brave people, who are truly faithful to the people, Torah and land of Israel, such as Joshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefune.
By such means, we will see the speedy fulfillment of Calev’s words: “We must go forth and occupy the land. We can do it!” (Numbers 13:30). Amen.
Looking forward to complete salvation,