banner2.gif
  Torah from Dixie leftbar.gif [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []    [top_passo.jpg]

A BATTLE FOR THE AGES

by David Shleifer    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"But My servant Caleb, because a different spirit was with him and he followed Me wholeheartedly, I shall bring him into the land to which he came, and his offspring shall possess it" (Numbers 14:24).

complete_story.gif    

[]

"But My servant Caleb, because a different spirit was with him and he followed Me wholeheartedly, I shall bring him into the land to which he came, and his offspring shall possess it" (Numbers 14:24).

This passage delegates the reward that Caleb received for his opposition to the spies defamatory report about the land of Israel. He will inherit the city of Chevron, the location of the M'arat HaMachpelah where the Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried. During the spies' tour of the land of Israel, Caleb had visited Chevron in order to pray to Hashem at the graves of his righteous ancestors for help in overcoming the evil plan of the spies.

Upon considering this information, three questions come to mind. Firstly, why does the above-verse mention a specific reward only for Caleb, while not making any mention of a special reward for the other righteous spy, Joshua, who fulfilled the exact same mitzvah? Secondly, what is the "different spirit" that was with Caleb? And finally, exactly what mitzvah did Caleb fulfill to warrant such a tremendous reward?

The Ohr HaChaim, a classic 18th century Kabbalist and commentator on the Torah, explains that a person possesses within him two opposing tendencies - an inclination towards good and an inclination towards evil. This evil inclination caused the spies to stumble and speak slander against the land of Israel. Caleb possessed this evil inclination within him, and that was the "different spirit" to which the verse refers, yet he still overcame that desire and did not fall prey to its entrapments. He followed Hashem wholeheartedly and therefore earned his reward. By contrast, Joshua was not tested by this "different spirit" to join the spies in their evil report. As Rashi, quoting the Talmud, informs us, immediately before the spies' departure, Moses blessed Joshua that he should be saved from the spies conspiracy, appending the Hebrew letter yud to the beginning of his name and thereby changing it to Yehoshua, meaning "G-d will save". This blessing removed his evil inclination toward slander against Israel. The lack of this evil inclination is the reason Joshua didn't receive a specific reward for his actions.

One question still remains. What is this mitzvah that Caleb performed? The Ohr HaChaim explains that a person's reward for a mitzvah comes directly from his battle with his evil inclination. Therefore, when a person battles against his evil inclination, his battle itself is a mitzvah. Caleb fought a battle against his evil inclination, adamantly refusing to join the other spies in their slander against the land of Israel, the sin which caused the Jewish people to spend the next forty years wandering in the desert. It is fitting that Caleb received Chevron, one of the four holiest cities of Israel, as a reward for his victory over his evil inclination.

[]

David Shleifer, a native Atlantan and graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is a student at the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore.

You are invited to read more Parshat Shelach articles.

Would you recommend this article to a friend? Let us know by sending an e-mail to editor@tfdixie.com

butombar.gif [] [] [] []