PARSHAS SHLACH - פרשת שלח
"Send for yourself men" - "שלח לך אנשים" (Numbers 13:2)
Let us try to understand why does the verse say "לך" - "for yourself". It would seem that it would have been sufficient to merely say "שלח אנשים" - "send men", what is the significance of the seemingly extra word? However, the real question is how was it possible for there have been, G-d forbid, such a horrendous destruction wrought by the spies (who were known to be great men)? From this we must learn that one must avoid being wise in one's own eyes. Rather, one must simply do what the Torah says in a sincere, simple, trusting way. The spies only deviated slightly from G-d's Word. Moses gave a sign to the spies that they should give a report as to whether the inhabitants of the Land lived "in open camps or walled cities" (Numbers 13:19). If they live in open camps, it is a sign that they are strong, whereas if they live in walled cities it shows that they are weak. The Spies said that even though they lived in walled cities they were strong anyway. This was their main deviation from the command of Moses. Even though they saw that it did not make sense to deviate from the opinion of the Torah that Moses taught them, including this sign that he gave them. They should have believed in it even if they did not understand in it. This is the meaning of "send for yourself men", as the commentators explain, "for yourself" means "for your benefit". The meaning of "for your benefit" is that we should learn that we must always follow the Torah only with simple sincerity. "You should follow the Lord your God with simple whole hearted sincerity" (Deuteronomy 18:13). This is a lesson for all generations, that no person should think that he is smarter than the Torah. Even if something makes a lot of sense and seems to be the right thing, if it is even slightly against the Torah it is completely forbidden.
In this generation we see many Jews want to learn foreign wisdom and vocations in order to make a living. However, this is completely forbidden. This is hinted to in the verse, "And you should not fear the people of the land, for they are our bread." (Numbers 14:9) This means that someone should not think about their ways, that they are our bread, i.e. that they will help us make a living. The truth is that this is all nothingness and vanity, because all of their livelihood is only like a shadow. This is the meaning of "because their protective shadow has left them" (ibid.), that they have no substance to them anymore than a shadow does. This is the meaning of "their shadow has left them". "And the Lord is with us" (ibid.) if we strengthen ourselves with the Lord, then He will be with us. Then, "there is nothing to fear" (ibid.). We can see that there is nothing to fear as far as making a living is concerned, particularly the livelihood of a Jewish person, which trancends time, and is only under the control of the Blessed Lord alone, Who feeds and sustains everything.
(Divrei Binah - Parshas Shlach p. 62-63)
"And Moses called Hosea the son of Nun 'Joshua'" - "ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע" (Numbers 13:16)
Rashi, z"l, explained that Moses "prayed that God - Who's Divine Name begins with "Yud" (י) and "Kei" (ה) - should save Joshua (Yehoshua means "G-d saves") from the advice of the spies." This term, "the advice of the spies" does not seem to make sense, where do we see them giving advice? They spoke slander against the Holy Land, but there was no advice. The fact of the matter is that it is known from the holy books that one can only pray to God to be saved from the trap of the smooth talk of the enemy (the Yetzer HaRav), whose advice sometimes seems good in a person's eyes, which leads someone to fall into the bitter depths of sin, G-d forbid. One can only pray to be saved from the advice itself, but not the actual sin, because free will gives a person the power to overcome the sin itself. One can only pray to be saved from the advice that leads to sin. This is why King David opened the book of Psalms with the words "Happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked" (Psalm 1:1). This was the sin of the Spies, inasmuch as they advised the Israelites saying "We be not able to go up" (Numbers 13:31). Their job was not to give advice about what to do, but rather only to see the Land before the people settled it. Why were they giving advice? The entire reason was to weaken the full faith that the Jews had in God.
This is similar to the advice that the wicked people of our generation have given us in regard to settling the Land of Israel. Their entire wicked desire is to cause the Jews to believe false ideas that the future Redemption can only come about through natural means, G-d forbid, as is known from their lies and falsehoods. This is the prayer that Moses prayed on behalf of Joshua (which, once again, means "G-d saves"), that "G-d should save you from the advice of the spies", that He should illuminate your eyes to see that all of this is the advice of the wicked, as explained above. Once he realizes that it is wicked advice, he will automatically be able to overcome the sin. Just the same, we pray that G-d should enlighten our eyes to see that all the words of the Zionists are false. Through this, we will be worthy to see the true complete Redemption, soon and within our days, amen, so may it be His Will.
(Divrei Binah, Parshas Shlach p. 82)
"And they went until Hebron, and there... and Hebron was build seven years before Zoan in Egypt" - "ויבא עד חברון ושם וכו'וחברון שבע שנים נבנתה לפני צוען מצרים" (Numbers 13:22)
The Talmud teaches, "do you think a person builds for his younger son before his older son? ...there is no worse stony ground in all the land of Israel than Hebron... Nevertheless Hebron was seven times more productive than Zoan (the most productive city outside of the Holy Land)" (Talmud Sotah 34b) [which teaches that the Holy Land is the best Land in the entire world]. It seems that Caleb learned from this to go to pray in Hebron, because even though there is no worse ground in the Holy Land, it is still seven times more productive than Zoan. From this he learned that any place where the Yetzer HaRa has more power, it is more of a place to fulfil the Will of G-d. That is why he went to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. From here a person can learn that the more difficult it is for a person to overcome the Yetzer HaRa, there is more of a place to come to the heights of perfection.
(Divrei Binah - Parshas Shlach p. 82)
"Now, please, let the strength of the Lord be increased, as You spoke, saying. 'The LORD is slow to anger...'" - "ועתה יגדל נא כח ה' כאשר דברת לאמר ה' ארך אפים" (Numbers 14:17- 18)
The Sages said that "when Moses ascended on high, he found G-d sitting and writing 'the LORD is slow to anger', Moses asked 'You mean for the righteous?', G-d answered, 'even for the wicked'... G-d told Moses, 'by your life, you will need this some day'" (Talmud Sanhedrin 111a). The concept of "slow to anger" is because G-d, so to speak, actually slows down His Anger. Because of this, everything becomes perfect, and everything is covered, even the evil. This is the meaning of "He forms light and creates darkness." (Isaiah 45:7). There are two ways of nullifying evil. One comes from the power of evil itself (by fighting against the evil). The other way is to cover up the evil (with goodness). This is the concept of "but flying sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7), this is the concept of the teaching of the Sages, "I created the Yetzer Hara, and I created the Torah as an antidote" (Talmud Baba Basra 16a), that the Yetzer Hara itself is transformed to be good. This is the concept of "slow to anger". The Spies had a different idea, to nullify evil totally through their strength. Because of this, they came into error. This is why Moses said "Now, please, let the Strength of the Lord be increased." (That evil should be nullified by the power of goodness.) This is actually the concept of the Sabbath, which is itself the power of the Torah, which is the antidote to the Yetzer Hara, as mentioned above.
(Divrei Binah - Parshas Shlach p. 83)
"And you shall not wander after your hearts and after your eyes after which you are going astray." - "ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם אשר אתם זונים אחריהם" (Numbers 15:39)
One can explain this according to the holy words of the Holy Rebbe of Berditchev, ztll"h zy"a, who explained the word "תתורו" - "Thaturu" - "wander" as being related to the word "תורה" - "Torah" - both containing the letters "ת-ו-ר", that one drags along the Torah. Until here are his words. I already explained the words of Ezra "and they sinned with Your laws" (Nehemiah 9:29), which means that one sins through the laws themselves. This is the main sin, that one tries to justify his actions through the Torah to sin, which makes it very difficult to repent, because the Yetzer fools one to think that he has not sinned at all. This is why the Sages taught that "anyone whose fear of sin comes before his wisdom, his wisdom will endure" (Pirkei Avos 3:9). Why does the Mishnah specifically teach concerning "fear of sin", rather than saying "fear of G-d comes before his wisdom..."? The reason is because "fear of sin" means that he is afraid of sin, that he is afraid of the sin itself. This is very great, for it makes him afraid to actually sin, so he will not try to justify his sins through Torah, G-d forbid. In order to be this way, one's fear of sin must come before his wisdom (so as not to use the wisdom to justify sinning). This is the intention of the Scripture, "and do not go after" (the word "go after" being related to the word "Torah"), that one should not attempt to learn justifications to "follow after your hearts and after your eyes after which you stray", attempting to find permission in the Torah to fulfill your heart's desires, which cause you to yearn to find permission to fulfill the desire. This is why it is written "and do not (use the Torah) to stray after your hearts" etc.
(Divrei Binah - Parshas Shlach p. 83)
In Parshas Shlach, "And you should not stray after your heart and after your eyes" - "ולא תורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם" (Numbers 15:39)
One time we asked the Holy Jew of Peshischa, zt"l, if the Sages were so strict against haughtiness and against the desire for money, why are these prohibitions not mentioned openly in the Torah? The Rebbe answered that they are hinted to in the above verse. After the letters "לב" - "LeV - "heart" are the letters "גם" - "GaM" - "also", since the letter מ - mem comes after the letter ל - lamed, and after the letter ב - beis comes the letter ג - gimmel, which spells Gam - "also". It is known that the word "also" comes to hint to the concept of haughtiness. After the letters "עין" - "AYiN" - "eye" are the letters "כסף" - "KeSeF" - "money". The meaning of "and do not go after your heart and after your eyes" is not to follow the letters that come after "LeV" - heart, which are "GaM" - "also", which hints to haughtiness. And the letters which come after "AYiN" - "eye", which are "KeSeF" - "money", which means that this verse hints to the prohibitions against haughtiness and desire of money. Until here are his words.
(Sefer Niflaos HaYehudi p. 37)
"And you should see them" - "וראיתם אותם" (Numbers 15:39)
It is improper how many hide the tzitzis of the talis katan, since it is written "and you should see them" (Numbers 15:39), which means seeing the tzitzis is a mitzvah in and of itself. It is brought in the holy books that if improper thoughts come to a person, he should look at his tzitzis. This is how he will fulfill "and you should not go after..." (ibid.) Seeing the tzitzis brings one to remember and keep the mitzvos. The mitzvah of tzitzis is a segulah to help one keep the holy Sabbath, and to accept upon oneself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, and to be worthy to come to the level of the patriarch Jacob, of blessed memory. It is taught in Tanna Devei Eliyahu (chapter 26) by Elijah the prophet, may he be remembered for good, "God asked Moses, 'Why did this man (mentioned in Numbers 15:32) desecrate the Sabbath?' Moses answered before Him, 'Lord of the world! I don't know!' God answered to Moses, 'I will tell you why, because during the six days of the week the Israelites have tefillin on their heads and on their arms, so when they see them they repent of their deeds. Now, however, on Shabbos, they do not have tefillin on their heads and arms. That is why this one broke Shabbos.' At that moment, God said to Moses, 'Go and explain to them one mitzvah, which will also be applicable on the Sabbath and Festivals (as well as during the week) - this is the mitzvah of tzitzis.' As it says, 'Say to the Children of Israel...and they should make for themselves tzitzis... and they should see them and remember all the commandments of the LORD.' (Numbers 15:38-39) The word 'l'dorosam' (for their generations) means 'l'dor tam' (to a perfect generation) and none is called 'tam' (perfect, simple) except for Jacob, as it says, 'And Jacob was a tam (“simple”, or “perfect”) man' (Genesis 25:27). He was perfect in that he never stole, he was perfect that he was from Gan Eden, and he was perfect in that he never murdered. Therefore this mitzvah of tzitzis was brought and compared to accepting the strict yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, for we begin 'Hear O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is One' (Deuteronomy 6:4), and end with 'and make for them tzitzis' (Numbers 15:39). From here we learn the easiest of the mitzvos is the same as the strictest." See there.
Is it not enough that one will need to give judgment for the times when we simply perform mitzvos by rote, but to actually disgrace a holy and dear mitzvah, by hiding the tzitzis so not to see them? If, l'havdil, some important person gave you a small gift, would you not feel honored and take pride in this? And the God gave us Torah and mitzvos, which are gifts of treasure chests filled with valuable treasures, the jewels of Kings! We need to give thanks and praise to God that we were worthy to receive this! We may never be ashamed of them, God forbid. "A wise man will hear this and add to what he takes from it." (Proverbs 1:5)
(Sefer Seder HaYom by Rebbe Yechiel Yehoshua of Biala - Day 5 - paragraph 19)
"This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord to perform them, and you shall not wander after your hearts and after your eyes after which you are going astray." (Numbers 15:39)
It is good to add to the "L'shem yichud" formula, which is said before enwrapping oneself in the talis gadol, that what is printed in the prayer book of the holy Gaon from Butshash in Daas Kedoshim, to recite, "that it should be considered as if he had techeles on each corner, so to prevent memory-loss, as it says 'and you should see them and remember all of the commandments of the LORD.' (Numbers 15:39)"
Check the tzitzis before donning the talis. The blessing should be recited after placing the talis over one's head, but before enwrapping. When enwrapping, the face, from the eyes to the mouth, should be uncovered. One should be sure that when enwrapping the tallis should reach the distance of one cubit in front and one cubit behind.
Remember the reason for the mitzvah (of tzitzis), which is to remember all of G-d's commandments, and to accept His mitzvos upon oneself, to keep them and to fulfill them. This is the main reason for the mitzvah, but it is also good to remember, "and do not stray after your heart and after your eyes" (Numbers 15:39). Also, one should remember the Exodus from Egypt, like it says in the legal codes, (see Ba"ch: Orach Chaim: 8), that if the reason for a mitzvah is written explicitly in the Torah, one must have that reason in mind.
After enwrapping in the talis it is good to place the tzitzis upon the eyes (see Shulchan Aruch: Orach Chaim 24:3), and to recite the verse, "The statutes of the LORD are upright, causing the heart to rejoice: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes." (Psalm 19:8), and to kiss the tzitzis.
(Sefer Seder HaYom Day 8 - paragraphs 36-39)