Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Faith and the Sin of the Spies

The beginning of the book of Devarim has a recounting of the Sin of the Spies from a slightly different perspective, it makes certain implied ideas more explicit.

Moshe says:

דברים א:לב - ובדבר הזה, אינכם מאמינם בה' אלקיכם

Devarim 1:32 - And on this matter, you do not believe in Hashem your G-d.

The basic format of the discussion between Yehoshua & Calev and the 10 tribes is as follows:

  • The 10 spies describe how great the Land of Israel is.
  • They describe how the people are much bigger and stronger than Am Yisrael.
  • Calev ben Yefuneh stresses that we can inherit the land.
  • The 10 spies say that we cannot inherit the land, stressing further how insignificant Am Yisrael is in comparison to the nations currently inhabiting the Land of Israel.
  • The nation sides with the 10 spies.
  • Calev ben Yefuneh and Yehoshua bin Nun stress how good the Land of Israel is, and that our inheriting it is dependent on Hashem being with us, which He is.
  • The nation still sides with the 10 spies.
  • Divine intervention.

The 10 spies and Calev/Yehoshua argument can be simplified to this:

  • The 10 spies say we can't inherit the land because we are weak.
  • Calev/Yehoshua say we can inherit the land because Hashem is with us.

Calev/Yehoshua do not address the base claim of the 10 spies. They didn't contradict a single claim of theirs, for that matter. They don't dispute the fact that the fruit brought back was abnormally large, that the cities were well fortified, that huge people inhabited the land.

Their only response was "Their protection has left them, Hashem is with us, do not fear them" (Bamidbar 14:9).

  • The 10 spies saw realpolitik
  • Calev/Yehoshua saw Divine Providence

Our forefathers sinned in that they didn't believe in the Divine Providence involved in settling Eretz Yisrael. They did not believe that they would be made successful by the Hand of Hashem. So they decided to give up on the mitzvah settling the land.


  1. back to your past post that the GRA said that the three oaths apply to the temple mount

    in sefer Chazon Tzion (Shklav V'Yerushalayim) page 110 relates part of a conversation between R Moshe Doresh tzion & Sir Moses Montifiore, that only for binyan hamikdash we have to wait,(also see footnote) there seems to be a misunderstanding to the affect that this means till Moshiach comes, but according to Professor Morgenstern in the name of a certain Rav who was from vasikei Yerushalayim, the correct version is untill "the time comes" not necesarily Moshiach.

    But either way, to be makriv karbanos, & to totally control Har Habayis, is still short of binyan Bais Hamikdosh. (Dovid Hamelech bought Har Habayis & brought a Korbon, yet he did not build the Temple.)

  2. This just doesn't seem logical to me.

    If we use force to bring Korbanot, we wouldn't really need any additional force to build the Beit HaMikdash, which would make the GR"A's maamar irrelevant.

    Regardless, "until the time comes" means you have to know how to figure out that time.

    We count the years that the Batei Mikdash stood based on the beginning of construction. So too here, the עץ חפץ is the beginning of construction, it seems.

    Kol tuv.