Shelach: Little Grasshoppers

I feel very sorry for the Chief Rabbinate.  They take the brunt of abuse for problems they never created.


Take conversions for an example.  The Israeli government had a choice when making the Law of Return, on whom to follow regarding the question, “Who is a Jew?”  They could have followed the more lenient opinion of Adolf Hitler, where anybody who has anything to do with a Jew is considered a Jew, or follow that of the Torah, if a person’s mother is Jewish or they have a legitimate conversion, they are considered a Jew.  Naturally, they decided to follow the more “lenient” opinion.


So, as a result, a whole slew of non-Jews came, mainly from Russia, to Israel.  Of course, these people integrated into society (at least their children did), and they want to get married, etc.  Now, since the Chief Rabbinate follows the Torah’s view, they are coming under attack from the left, for not “dealing with this problem that they created,” because they are taking the more “stringent” approach.  If they would only, and “simply,” be more innovative in their approach to halachah, all will be well!  This is just one example of many.  In fact, thinking about it, it’s somewhat applicable to all frum Jews.  People decide to change norms and halachah that go against the Torah, and then, when it’s not accepted by the religious world, it’s the fault of the religious for being so close-minded. 


It’s amazing how these things work . . .


“Calev tried to quiet the people for Moshe, ‘We must go forth and occupy the land,’ he said. ‘We can do it!’ . . . They began to speak badly about the land that they had explored . . . . ‘All the men we saw there were huge!  While we were there, we saw the titans . . . we felt like tiny grasshoppers!’” (Bamidbar 13:30-33).


It’s known that a Jew’s potential can be fulfilled more in Eretz Yisroel than when he is in Chutz L’Aretz  (outside of Israel).  The same person, who pushes himself 100% in Chutz L’Aretz, will reach higher levels when he does the same in Eretz Yisroel.


Not only is this true whether he is physically in Israel or not, but it is also true in his mentality.  If a person, no matter where he is living, is a person who believes in himself and pushes himself, can be likened as an “Eretz Yisroel Jew,” while a person who does what he needs to and no more, can be likened as a “Chutz L’Aretz Jew.” 


Rav Asher Rubenstein was very big in pointing out that this parsha is not just speaking about one’s physical location, but also his mentality.


The Yetzer Horah loves to tell a person that he’s a nothing and cannot accomplish much. “Who are you, after all?  What do you think you can accomplish with yourself?  You’re a nothing!”


When the twelve spies toured the land, they all agreed on the physical situation in Eretz Yisroel.  However, they disagreed on one issue, “we felt like tiny grasshoppers!”  Yehoshua and Calev both understood that their enemies are well fortified, but they had received Hashem’s promise that all will go well, and that was that.  The other ten, however, felt that we were not up to such a monumental task.  And what was the result of such an attitude?  Forty additional years in the desert and the establishment of Tisha B’Av.


A person’s attitude can determine if he will be an “Eretz Yisroel Jew,” who pushes himself to the limit, or to be a “Chutz L’Aretz Jew,” where he does what can, and no more.  If a person listens to the “spies” within him, he will shirk from all opportunities to grow, but if he doesn’t listen, he can “enter Eretz Yisroel” and continue to grow to new heights.


Have a great Shabbos!


Michael Winner