Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg zt”l: Notes on Devarim VIII: Moshe’s Explanation
Moshe leaves out the reason why Klal Yisrael didn’t want to go to Israel. He says that the report was that the Land was a good one. He leaves out what it says in Shelach that the spies said the enemies were too powerful.
In pasuk 26, Moshe says simply that “You didn’t want to go-Velo Avisem Laalos’. Moshe was saying that Klal Yisrael first decided that they didn’t want to go and then they searched for a reason to latch on to. The reason wasn’t real. They simply didn’t want to go and looked for an excuse.
Moshe mentions that the spies brought fruit and makes it seem that they brought it with good intent.
Why does Moshe seem to whitewash the meraglim? Eleh the pshat is that the extraordinary fruit was itself the reason why not to go. The large fruit showed that the Land was a miraculous one and they can’t live in such a land.
Just as Moshe did in the story of Yisro, Moshe strips the story to the bare bones of reality as to what really happened in these events. In the previous description of the stories they are reported as they happened. Moshe tells them the drives and what was underneath the events.
It’s a Lack of Faith
In pasuk 32, Moshe tells Bnai Yisrael that their excuses of not thinking that they could live up to the level of living with Hashem in their midst are really expressions of a lack of trust in Hashem. They simply were ‘Einchem Maaminim’.
Yes, it’s true that keeping the madreiga of living with Hashem is very difficult but if you really believed then you would do it.
Rashi brings that they didn’t believe in Hashem’s promise to bring them into Israel. Now we must say that this promise had to be that even if Klal Yisrael sinned the promise would still be kept-there was no ‘shema yigrom hachet’, because if sin could make the promise not occur then they have a right to be afraid to go into Israel. [The fact that at Ai in Sefer
Yehoshua, Achan’s sin did make them lose a battle would seem to contradict this. But we have to say that in reality it wasn’t that they were going to lose the battle but it’s that they suffered slight casualties which don’t (and didn’t) occur when they fought for Eretz Yisrael so they were brought to panic.
The Maharsha explains that the reason why others were culpable for Achan’s sin was because they had accepted ‘arvus’-responsibilty upon themselves for each other.
They should have set up watchmen to guarantee that no one would take from the cherem.
A Noisy Chet
In pasuk 34, it says that Hashem heard “Kol(voice) Divreichem’ and became angry. What do I now know more with the added word ‘koi’? The whole concept of what the Chumash is saying would have been a different one if instead of kol divreichem it would have used
Evidently, Kavayachol would have overlooked and the consequences would not have been the same if it had not been a ‘noisy’ chet. If it had been thoughts or even expressions of words but without the ‘kol’, it would not have been the same severity.
Making G-d Angry
In pasuk 34, Moshe says “Vayiktzof about Hashem and then He swore that we wouldn’t go into Israel. Making G-d angry, affecting negatively our relationship with Him, even without any effect to our well-being, is itself a terrible thing.
In pasuk 36, the Rosh Yeshiva 2TL klerred the following. It says that Kalev will go into Eretz
Yisrael because he was ‘Mileh Acharei Hashem’. Is it the pshat that Kalev needed to speak up the way he did, to do something active, to merit going into Israel and simply not being part of the rest of the people’s sin would not be enough.
If so, then the ‘yaan. .’ would describe why Kalev received a special reward-Chevron.
Or did Kalev need to do something active otherwise he’d be included in the consequences of the Chet because he was part of the Dor [The Chumash describes them as a ‘Dor Raah’ even though they were on a very high madreiga because they chose to reject a G-dly life with all of its tensions.
If a generation seeks G-d and pushes itself and is in the right direction even if it is not as close to G-d as the Dor HaMidbar they could be a good generation and not a Dor Raah.], and simply standing apart would not be enough.
The Rosh Yeshiva ZTL did not have a pshat as to what happened with Betzalel or whether he was part of the Chet HaMeraglim.
Moshe’s Hitting Not Enough
In pasuk 37, it is clear that Moshe would still have entered the Land even with his hitting and not speaking to the rock. It was only because the whole dor wasn’t going into Eretz Yirael that Moshe’s chet made a difference. Moshe as leader can’t evade responsibilty. Whatever happens to and with the people is a reflection on the leader.
You Can’t Force G-d
In pasuk 42, Klal Yisrael is being told that although they might feel that they could force G-d’s hand [Because they felt so close to Hashem in the midbar, they felt they could demand. This is similar to the Choni haMagel story in which he demanded rain from Hashem and Rabbi Gamliel sent him a message that he would have put him in cherem for speaking to
Kavayachol like that but Hashem treated him as a son that can demand from his parent sometimes and get away with it.] in that they would go fight anyway and Kavayachol would be forced to save them, it would not happen. Just like a child tries to force a parent to do something that he doesn’t want to do, Klal Yisrael did the same.
But just like there are times when a parent must let the child make the mistakes and not come to bail the child out so too Hashem let Bnai Yisrael face the consequences of their actions.
A Teshuva that is not Accepted?
In pasuk 45, it would appear that Klal Yisrael does teshuva and Hashem rejects it. But a closer look reveals that they were only ‘VaTashuvu’. It does not say that they returned to the camp but only that they returned from the battle. They had returned from fighting but they still wanted to continue to fight for Eretz Yisrael even after Hashem had said they could not. They were crying because they wanted Hashem to change His mind and let them fight for Eretz Yisrael now.