Friday, June 23, 2006

Parshas Shelach

This Parshas Shelach we have the ever-so-famous story of the Miraglim, the Jewish spies. Essentially, 12 men, 1 from each tribe, are sent into the land of Israel to scope out the scene before the Jewish peoples’ entrance into the land. At the end of 40 days they come back with their famous report, with most of the spies reporting going something like this: “they’re too many of them, they’re too strong, Amelek is in town, and we’ll lose in a fight to them.” Calev interjects goes on to argue with them, basically saying, “don’t worry – we’ll be fine, Israel will be ours.”

Asks the Piaczezna Rav (who wrote Aish Kodesh and was the Rav of the Warsaw Ghetto), who hid his manuscripts from drashos given in the ghetto: If we look at Calev’s response, he doesn’t deal with any of the issues. The miraglim say that they’re too strong, and because of that, we won’t be able to conquer the land and have it for our own. But Calev’s response doesn’t deal with the fact that they’re too many of them, that they’re too strong, etc., - he’s only dealing with the end result – that they will be able to conquer the land. Says the Piaczezna Rav: by not refuting the original arguments of the miraglim, he must’ve admitted that they were, in fact, true. These were not slanderous lies they were reporting, but the truth.

If that’s the case – why do we look upon the spies mission as being a disaster, if, after all, they reported the truth? Answers the Piaczezna Rav: they lacked emunah (faith). There are certain times in life when you think all is lost, all is in despair, and all of the chips are stacked against you. There are times when there doesn’t seem like a plausible way to overcome the burdens that lie ahead – and it’s at this time that Hashem really can help us out. It would be enough to just end the d’var here by saying that we should learn from the case of the miraglim that even at times of extreme need we can turn to Hashem – but, if we stopped there, I think the point would be weak.

Let’s remember who said these words, and where. It was the Piaczezna Rav, who was risking death to give Shabbos morning drashos in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Piaczezna Rav was no idiot: he knew that Jews were being killed for being Jewish, and he surely knew of Hitler’s plan to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. But, he chose this drasha to give that Shabbos in 1941 to liken their situation to that of the miraglim. Sure, there was a plan; yes, Jews had been killed and yeshivos uprooted. What the Piaczezna Rav was telling his congregation was that the easy thing to do would be to say like the spies did – that they couldn’t overcome the inhabitants of Israel or the Nazi’s. But that isn’t how a Jew thinks: even when up against tremendous odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, a Jew keeps his faith. Unfortunately, help came too late to save the Piaczezna Rav.

It’s nice to say that we believe in hashgacha of Hashem – but for how many of us is it really more than lip service? If the Piaczezna Rav was able to hold on to this faith through, perhaps, the worst period in the history of the Jews, we can certainly have faith in our time of prosperity. Do we really know that Hashem is our “go to guy”, or would we give up in times of despair?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

good stuff

9:11 AM, June 23, 2006

Blogger bellanny said...

Thanks. brought things into perspective for me.

10:08 AM, June 23, 2006

Anonymous Donny said...

Very very nice. (BTW- I loved the whiskey posts)

10:21 AM, June 23, 2006


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