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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Shlach Lecha

Pareshat Shelach

Impossible?!

3011
Dedicated to the memory of
Yaakov Ben Behora
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The commentators are quite perplexed as to the precise nature of the spies' wrongdoing. Didn’t Moshe send them with explicit instructions to see.whether the people of the land are strong or weak, whether the land itself is good or bad, and whether the cities are fortified or open to attack? Should they have lied about what they saw? What then was so sinful about their report which seems to have consisted of nothing but the truth?

There are many answers to this question, but perhaps the most significant is the resolution offered by Nachmanides. He argues that the spies’ report was essentially not sinful. Their terrible wrongdoing consisted of only one small segment of their account. They stated: "Efes ki az ha’am," "But the people are strong." Nachmanides understands that the word "efes" implies impossibility, that is to say, we cannot possibly overcome the mighty people of the land. Perhaps it would be difficult, or even logically inconceivable, but IMPOSSIBLE?? That word does not apply to the Jewish people, for it is God who guides their destiny.

This idea governs our present situation as well. Many aspects of our contemporary plight may be perceived as difficult to overcome, and it may be illogical to assume that we will be successful. Yet we constantly overcome the most difficult obstacles that lie before us, because for the Jewish people, who place their trust in God, absolutely nothing is truly impossible, for He continues to guide our destiny.

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Rabbi Moshe Ch. Sosevsky
Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ohr Yerusahlayim, Ed. D and a former editor of "Jewish Thought': A Journal of Torah Scholarship published cojointly by Ohr Yerusahalayim and the Orthodox Union.
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