Let's keep in touch!
Want to keep in the loop on the latest happenings at Harford Chabad. Subscribe to our mailing list below. We'll send you information that is fresh, relevant, and important to you and our local community.
Printed from HarfordChabad.org

What are your priorities?

Thursday, 12 June, 2014 - 7:01 am

This week's Torah Portion tells us how Moses sends twelve spies to the land of Canaan. They were told to find out if “the nation that dwells in it—is it strong or weak? Is it few or numerous? … the land in which it dwells—is it good or is it bad… Is it fertile or lean?”

The spies come back and begin to answer the questions. They reported about the richness of the land and the might of its inhabitants, precisely the issues which Moses had asked them to determine. 

Before they said anything negative the Torah tells us Calev silenced the people to [hear about] Moses, and he said, “We can surely go up and take possession of it, for we can indeed overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30) 

It is only in the next verse, following Calev’s speech, where the spies make their heretical statement that G-d’s promise of the Jews’ conquering the land of Canaan could not be fulfilled. What did Calev sense in their earlier words that caused him to interrupt them? 

The answer is priorities. 

A careful reading shows that when describing their fact-finding mission, Moses’s first concern was: “the nation that dwells in it—is it strong or weak? Is it few or numerous?” And only then, “the land in which it dwells—is it good or is it bad… Is it fertile or lean?”

Moses’s focus was first and foremost on how to go about the task at hand, the conquering, and only then to learn about the reward, the quality of the land that would soon be theirs. Calev sensed from early on in the spies’ response that their priorities were starkly different to Moses’s. The spies spoke first of the prize their efforts would yield, “the land flows with milk and honey, and this is its produce”. Only then did they address the challenge of what was expected of them, “But the nation that dwells in 
the land is very powerful….”

Calev immediately realized that they were making a dreadful mistake. For when one serves G-d for the sake of the rewards he will receive in return, the service itself becomes gauged on his interest in the incentive. A reward that “warrants” a lighter effort, doesn’t necessarily “justify” the strain of a more challenging and difficult task. And once each task is evaluated by its level of difficulty, it isn’t long before one makes the awfully mistaken conclusion that even if commanded by G-d, some things are simply impossible, “We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 

Calev was hoping to preempt this pitfall, reminding us that if one wants to serve G-d for the sake of serving G-d, then nothing is impossible. The only question is how! 

See you Shabbos Morning (or tonight at Barnes and Noble), 

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Based on an email written by Machon Or Hachasidus

Comments on: What are your priorities?
There are no comments.