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SHELAJ-LEJÁ

In this parashah, the Torah tells us that Moshe sent twelve scouts to explore the Land of Israel, and establish a strategy of conquest. The scouts were important representatives of each tribe.

A year and a month has passed since the departure from Egypt, and we see that the Divine plan was that the people would begin the conquest of the Land of Israel.

However, the incident of the scouts is going to cause them to remain forty years in the desert, until all that generation that left Egypt disappears.

But what really happened, why was such a strong decree decreed upon the people?

Moshe Rabbeinu gave a very concrete mission to the scouts, they had to investigate what kind of land it was, what kind of people lived there, to see if the cities were walled, what kind of army was in that land, to see if there were trees or not.

They stayed forty days in the Land of Israel, and when they returned they gathered the people together and told them "...there is nothing to do, it is a land of giants that consumes its inhabitants, they are strong,...". Most of these spies, ten of them, brought a negative report. Only Yehoshua and Caleb gave a positive report, and they tried to encourage and stimulate the people by saying: "...if we can go in...".

It is hard to understand how a people who were experiencing first hand the miracles in the desert, such as the manna that fell daily, the clouds of glory that protected them, the Divine Presence in the Tabernacle... could say: "...no, we have nothing to do...".

Rabbi Isaac Arama, in his book Akedat Yitzhak explains that this plot occurs after the parashah of Behalotecha, in which the people began to feel nostalgic for Egypt, missing the vegetables, the fish..., and the way of life without precepts that they had in Egypt. And G-d answers, you have to appoint seventy leaders to educate, and reactivate the flame of spirituality in the people.

These explorers had lived through the spiritual fall of the people, and therefore, they made an assessment "...from the spiritual point of view we have no merit, and from the military point of view they are much stronger than us, so we have nothing to do...".

Apparently the argument had its logic, however what was their mistake?

Rabbi Isaac Arama argues that the scouts made two mistakes:

1st Moshe when ordered to draw up a program of strategy to conquer the land, gave the scouts a very specific mission, but at no point, did he tell them that they had to decide. Therefore, when the scouts returned they should have come to Moshe and reported directly to him, so that he as leader could determine what was most convenient in view of the report. Instead, the scouts decided and attributed to themselves functions that were not entrusted to them, and what they achieved was to discourage the people, so that they did not even want to listen to Moses.

2º The scouts lost confidence in the people. They became desperate and said"...we have no spiritual merit". And there was the mistake. The scouts should have said "...now we have no merit, our level of spirituality is low, but we have to fortify ourselves, and if we do, we will surely be able to conquer the land...".

The transgression of the explorers is that they gave up. Every day is a new birth. Every day, the person has the opportunity for renewal, to repent and be born again spiritually in every moment.

A person should never give up, as the Talmud says:

"Even if a person has a sharp sword on his neck, he should not lose hope, because he can always cry out to the Divine mercy for help and assistance....".

This eagerness to attribute powers of decision, and also this defeatist spirit of not having the desire to overcome, and taking for granted that we are already condemned, was the transgression of the explorers, in which not only they fell, but they made the majority of the people who supported them fall.

They gave up the battle for lost, when the battle had not even begun.

We have to learn that the person never has to give up with the fall, but always has to have courage, illusion and hope to say, I can be born again today, renew myself, transform myself, repent and erase all my past and start again. Of course, I can.

And never despair.


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