From the Rav’s Desk: Shaalos & Teshuvos on Parshas Shelach and others

The Mefarshim[1] explain that, unlike the superficial understanding of the story in which one concludes the Meraglim were great Reshaim, in truth they were great Tzadikim and had good and holy intentions in their actions. In the wording of the Alter Rebbe[2] “They were on a very high level.” They were great Tzadikim not only at the time they were chosen by Moshe and went on their trip, but even afterwards, upon their return, and eventual deterioration of events.[3] They never intended to rebel against Hashem or proclaim heresy but took a mistaken and misguided approach in their service of G-d, which eventually led to the tragic events that followed. In the coming paragraphs, we will elaborate on the exact mistaken philosophy and approach of the holy Meraglim.


The proof of righteousness of the Meraglim even at the time of their sin:

The fact that the Meraglim were truly Tzadikim throughout the episode can be proven from several sources.

1) The source of a Minyan: The Talmud[4] states that the source in scripture for the law that a Minyan is made up of 10 men, and one needs a Minyan in order to recite a Davar Shebekedusha [i.e. Davening, Kedusha, Kaddish, Barchu] is learned from a verse discussing nonother than the Meraglim! Not the Meraglim before the sin, but the Meraglim after the sin! After the sin of the Meraglim the verse[5] states “Ad Masaiy Leida Harah Hazos/Until when will we suffer from this evil group” and the Sages used a Hekesh to learn from here that an Eida, a Minyan, is made up of ten men just like the group of the Meraglim who sinned. Now, why on earth would the source for a Minyan be learned from such evil people, especially in light of the fact that according to Halacha it is questionable[6] as to if the heretical Meraglim could even join a Minyan? Accordingly, one must conclude that in truth the Meraglim were, and remained, Tzaddikim even after the sin.[7]

2) The fast day of the 17th of Elul: In chapter 580 in Shulchan Aruch, a list of fast days is given for scrupulous Jews, commemorating different events that warrant fasting, most of which are fasts commemorating the death of Tzaddikim. The Tur and Shulchan Aruch[8] after listing several days of fasting for the deaths of Tzadikim, list that the 17th of Elul is a fast day commemorating the deaths of the Meraglim! The Mefarshim[9] are puzzled, and question why one would fast on this day, implying something bad occurred, when in truth it is a day of rejoicing, as states the verse “Rejoice with the loss of Reshaim.” Various answers are offered, and of these answers, some Mefarshim[10] state that in truth the Meraglim were Tzadikim and therefore we fast just like after the death of any other Tzadik listed there. According to this approach, the Meraglim remained Tzaddikim until their death, to the caliber that it is worthy to fast on that day just like it is worthy to fast on the day of passing of Moshe, Miriam, Nadav Veavihu and others!


[1] M”A 580/2 in name of Shelah Hakadosh [However, see Shlah Hakadosh Al Hatorah where he clearly writes they were Reshaim. Vetzaruch Iyun]; Rav Shmuel Vital in Shaar Hapesukim Shlach; Likkutei Torah p. 72; Likkutei Sichos 33/85; Semuchin Lad Shlach; Tiferes Yonason Shlach in name of Shlah; Toldos Adam Shlach in name of Rav Yitzchak of Varka

Other Mefarshim: Most of the Mefarshim view the Meraglim as Reshaim. [See Bies Yosef 580; Bach 580; Shlah Al Hatorah; Igros Moshe 3/14]

[2] Likkutei Torah p. 72

[3] So is evident from all the above sources!

[4] Megillah 23b

[5] 14/27

[6] See Beis Yosef 55 in name of Rashba; P”M 55 A”A 10; Igros Moshe 3/14

[7] Likkutei Sichos 33/85

[8] 580/2

[9] See M”A 580/2; Beis Yosef 580; Bach 580

[10] M”A 580/2 in name of Shelah Hakadosh [However, see Shlah Hakadosh Al Hatorah where he clearly writes they were Reshaim. Vetzaruch Iyun]

17th of Elul. The Tur and Shulchan Aruch[1] list that the 17th of Elul is a fast day commemorating the deaths of the Meraglim!

[1] 580/2

Indeed, there is no maximum limit to Bikurim, and hence one may choose to sanctify all the fruits of his tree and even his entire field as Bikurim to bring to the temple. In this regard, it is different than Hafrashas Teruma, Challah, Maser, etc which requires one to separate from a leftover produce, and he cannot separate the entire produce.

Sources: Rambam Hilchos Bikurim 2:17; Mishneh Bikurim 2:4

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