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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quality versus Quantity- Parshat Shlach Lecha

In this week's Torah Portion of the Week,  Parshat Shlach Lecha, we can compare two missions, one unsuccessful and one successful, by looking at both the Torah Portion, Numbers Chapters 13:1-15:41, and the Haftara, Joshua Chapter 2.

Both missions had the same basic aim/assignment, get basic information about the Land the Jewish People were to enter immediately.  In both cases, the main leader stayed behind and sent very distinguished representatives.

Numbers Chapter 13 בְּמִדְבַּר
א וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. 1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
ב שְׁלַח-לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים, וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי נֹתֵן, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: אִישׁ אֶחָד אִישׁ אֶחָד לְמַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו, תִּשְׁלָחוּ--כֹּל, נָשִׂיא בָהֶם. 2 'Send thou men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them.'
ג וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה מִמִּדְבַּר פָּארָן, עַל-פִּי יְהוָה: כֻּלָּם אֲנָשִׁים, רָאשֵׁי בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה. 3 And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the commandment of the LORD; all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel.

Moses was ordered by G-d to carefully give each tribe equal representation. So he sent a delegation of twelve, one from each tribe.

Joshua Chapter 2 יְהוֹשֻׁעַ
א וַיִּשְׁלַח יְהוֹשֻׁעַ-בִּן-נוּן מִן-הַשִּׁטִּים שְׁנַיִם-אֲנָשִׁים מְרַגְּלִים, חֶרֶשׁ לֵאמֹר, לְכוּ רְאוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, וְאֶת-יְרִיחוֹ; 1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two spies secretly, saying: 'Go view the land, and Jericho.'
You probably know that the first mission ended in disaster.  Instead of just describing what they had seen, the twelve "tourists" added an unasked for spin.  It was a very pessimistic one.  Ten out of twelve claimed that the Land was inhabited by giants and there was no way that the recent slaves (to Pharaoh) could defeat them if attacked.  The people were scared silly and all were punished by G-d.  They were forced to wander the wilderness, stateless, for forty years until a new generation had been born and ready to take over.  That's where Joshua's story comes in. Joshua was one of the two representatives who gave a minority opinion that the Jewish People could make the Land their home and shouldn't worry.

Forty years later, Joshua secretly sent just two people he could rely on, with the added advantage that the smaller number was able to go where twelve couldn't.  This was a different mission, one of quality, rather than quantity.

I emphasized "secretly," because that's a key security principle and today's Jewish People and State of Israel have forgotten it.  We are most secure when we rely on G-d and follow G-d's orders. 

Our great military victory, the 1967 Six Days War went against all conventional military wisdom.  The only reason why we survived was because we fought it without allies, without the help of other countries.  The United Nations, the United States, Europe etc. stood by expecting us to be defeated.  Thanks to G-d we weren't.  Not only weren't we defeated, but we ended up with our historic, Biblical Land and defensive borders in our hands.

Six years later, when the Egyptians and Syrians massed on our borders and then attacked us on Yom Kippur, 1973, instead of just fighting for our lives, existence, survival, we kept "consulting" with Nixon and Kissenger asking their permission, waiting for more weapons.  We were almost defeated.  The United States had been hoping that we would ask them to come in and take over security.  Thank G-d we fought better than they had predicted/calculated.

I'll end this with a quotation from King David:
1 Samuel Chapter 17 שְׁמוּאֵל א
לג וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל אֶל-דָּוִד, לֹא תוּכַל לָלֶכֶת אֶל-הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי הַזֶּה, לְהִלָּחֵם, עִמּוֹ: כִּי-נַעַר אַתָּה, וְהוּא אִישׁ מִלְחָמָה מִנְּעֻרָיו. {ס} 33 And Saul said to David: 'Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.' {S}
לד וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל-שָׁאוּל, רֹעֶה הָיָה עַבְדְּךָ לְאָבִיו בַּצֹּאן; וּבָא הָאֲרִי וְאֶת-הַדּוֹב, וְנָשָׂא שֶׂה מֵהָעֵדֶר. 34 And David said unto Saul: 'Thy servant kept his father's sheep; and when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock,
לה וְיָצָאתִי אַחֲרָיו וְהִכִּתִיו, וְהִצַּלְתִּי מִפִּיו; וַיָּקָם עָלַי--וְהֶחֱזַקְתִּי בִּזְקָנוֹ, וְהִכִּתִיו וַהֲמִיתִּיו. 35 I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth; and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.
לו גַּם אֶת-הָאֲרִי גַּם-הַדֹּב, הִכָּה עַבְדֶּךָ; וְהָיָה הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי הֶעָרֵל הַזֶּה, כְּאַחַד מֵהֶם, כִּי חֵרֵף, מַעַרְכֹת אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים. {ס} 36 Thy servant smote both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath taunted the armies of the living God.' {S}
לז וַיֹּאמֶר, דָּוִד, יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר הִצִּלַנִי מִיַּד הָאֲרִי וּמִיַּד הַדֹּב, הוּא יַצִּילֵנִי מִיַּד הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי הַזֶּה; {ס} וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל אֶל-דָּוִד לֵךְ, וַיהוָה יִהְיֶה עִמָּךְ. 37 And David said: 'The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.' {S} And Saul said unto David: 'Go, and the LORD shall be with thee.'

We the Jewish People and the State of Israel must never depend on others to save us. Just like during the Holocaust, when the Nazis were systematically murdering Jews and the world stood by uncaring (at best,) they wouldn't endanger themselves to save the State of Israel. The Allied Forces fought the Nazis to keep them from taking over Europe and Britain, not to save the Jews. It's hard for many Jewish People to accept it, but it's fact.

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