by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON PARSHAS SHLACH 5763 BS"D
The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that Yoseif is mentioned only by the tribe of Menasheh since in the future, half the tribe would settle in Trans-Jordan (Bmidbar 32:33). We might think that a representative of the tribe was one who had no strong feelings for residing in Eretz Yisroel. The verse therefore stresses that the spy who was sent was a descendant of Yoseif, who was very strongly connected to Eretz Yisroel. Even when he was in Egypt for a number of years he proudly stated, "Ki gunove gunavti mei'ertz ho'Ivrim" (Breishis 40:15), that he was from Eretz Yisroel. Thus the verse indicates that the person sent would hopefully bring back a report that would encourage the bnei Yisroel to conquer and inhabit eretz Yisroel. In spite of this, we later see that this was of no avail.
If one were to ask that the tribes of Reuvane and Gad had all their people settle in Trans-Jordan and there still were representatives sent from those tribes, it seems that there was no choice but to send one person from each tribe. Alternatively, it is suggested by Rabbi Y' Bernstein z"tl that there is no indication that the bnei Reuvane and bnei Gad were anti-Eretz Yisroel. They had a large amount of cattle and were very impressed by the grazing capacity of Trans-Jordan. They gave more importance to this than to residing in Eretz Yisroel. However, the half of Menasheh that resided in Trans-Jordan did not have this consideration and it seems that they were not terribly interested in living in Eretz Yisroel.
It seems that this explanation is not in consonance with the M.R. Breishis 84:19 mentioned by the Chizkuni (Breishis 32:32), who says that the reason half of the bnei Menasheh were given land in Trans-Jordan was not at their request, but rather as a punishment for their ancestor Menasheh causing the brothers to rent their garments in two when Yoseif's goblet was found in Binyomin's satchel.
Ch. 13, v. 30: "Va'yahas Ko'leiv es ho'om el Moshe va'yomer olo naa'leh" - MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that the bnei Yisroel heard the prophecy of Eldod and Meidod (Bmidbar 11:28) that Moshe will die in the desert and Yehoshua will bring them into Eretz Yisroel (gemara Sanhedrin 17a). As well, Moshe did not protest or punish them, thus they felt it was conclusive that the prophecy was accurate. Given this background, they greatly feared entering Eretz Yisroel without Moshe's protective merits, especially that they had to conquer Amo'leik (verse 29) with whom they had a previous encounter (Shmos 17:8-16), and with the giants (verse 33). Ko'leiv silenced them, saying that Moshe's greatness came through the merit of the bnei Yisroel (see Rashi Shmos 32:7 d.h. "Leich reid"). He added that Moshe's prophecy only came when the bnei Yisroel were close to Hashem, but when they were excommunicated after the sin of the golden calf Hashem did not speak with Moshe until after the generation of those who sinned died (Dvorim 2:16,17 as explained in the gemara Taanis 30b). The gemara Yerushalmi Taanis 3:4 says that this lasted for a period of 38 years! Thus Ko'leiv silenced the people "el Moshe," - regarding their attitude about Moshe, that without him they would be doomed to die at the hands of the nations occupying Eretz Yisroel. Ko'leiv said "oloh naa'leh," - we will successfully enter the land and conquer its inhabitants on our own merits. Hashem is always with us, even after the loss of our greatest leader of all generations. This was the intention of Yehoshua when he said, "B'zose teidun ki KEIL CHAI b'kir'b'chem v'horeish yorish" (Yehoshua 3:10). He stressed that even without Moshe alive, Hashem is constantly with us, hence the term KEIL CHAI, indicative of Hashem's permanent presence.
Ch. 14, v. 18: "Hashem erech apayim" - Hashem Who is slow to anger - Compare this with Shmos 34:6, where the word Hashem is mentioned twice.
The gemara R.H. 17b says that the first mention of Hashem refers to Hashem's mercy before one sins and the second to His mercy after one sins. The Rosh asks, "Why is there a need to invoke Hashem's mercy before one sins, as no sin has as of yet been committed?" He answers that "before one sins" refers specifically to when one has the thought of sinning with the act of idol worship, regarding which the gemara Kidushin 39b-40a says that Hashem considers the thought as if it were action, as stated in the prophet Yechezkel, "l'maan t'fose es beis Yisroel b'libom" (14:4).
The difference is now well understood. Moshe was asking for compassion after the bnei Yisroel sinned with the golden calf, a sin in the realm of idolatry. Therefore when asking for forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf, mercy was needed even before the sin was perpetrated, for the thought of sinning itself. Here however, Moshe was asking for atonement for the sin of the spies and those who sided with them. The thought of sinning in this case is not a sin itself and therefore Moshe only invoked the word Hashem once for forgiveness only after the sin had actually taken place. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 15, v. 31: "Hiko'reis tiko'reis ha'nefesh ha'hee avonoh voh" - That soul shall surely be excised, its sin is upon it - The Sifri "diburo d'chovoh" 1:1:2 says that although the Torah says "pokeid avone ovose al bonim" (Bmidbar 14:18), which teaches us that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, this does not apply to the sin of idol worship, as is indicated by the words of our verse, "avonoh voh," the sin is upon the soul, but not upon later generations.
The Meshech Chochmoh explains why this is so. Although when a person transgresses a sin that carries as its punishment excision, this is limited to this world, but the soul is not disconnected from the Jewish nation in the world to come. However, with the sin of idol worship the soul is cut off completely, leaving it with no connection to the Jewish nation even in the world to come, as is indicated by the double expression "hiko'reis ti'ko'reis" (gemara Sanhedrin 64b). As long as the sinner's soul is still connected with his nation, there is reason for his sin to impact upon later generations. Not so with the sin of idol worship. Since the person's soul is totally cut off from his nation, there is no reason for his sin to affect his progeny.
It is now well understood that immediately upon forgiving the bnei Yisroel for the sin of serving the golden calf, a sin in the realm of idol worship, the verse says "u'v'yom pokdi u'fokad'ti" (Shmos 32:34). Had this sin not been forgiven, the residual punishment of this sin could not be passed on to later generations, but as soon as it had been forgiven, Hashem advised that there would be future installment payments. These words are actually a silver lining in the clouds according to the MESHECH CHOCHMOH.
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