Send For Yourself

         At times in life we all have to do things for ourselves, as opposed to for others. Even if others tell us not to do so, we feel that something is the right thing to do. G-d told Moses to send for himself men to scout out the land. Why does it need to say לך, “for yourself”? The general answer given is that G-d did not need to have men sent out for he knew the land was good. Moses, on the other hand, needed to have people go for himself, to give proof that the land was good.

Ephraim of Luntshitz wrote in his book Kli Yakar four reasons for the word לך. The first is for his good and his benefit. The Israelites said to Moses “send out before us men to search out the land,”[1] and Moses did as they requested. It will not be for the people’s benefit, as based on their report they will die; rather it will be in Moses’ benefit as he will live an additional 40 years.

The second reason given by Kli Yakar is that G-d wanted Moses to see that people can be deceitful, that they flatter you when in reality disguising themselves for purposes of falsehood. Moses thought the spies were important, reputable people, but their inner nature did not match their outer appearance (אין תוכם כברם), as we learned from their reports.

The third interpretation by Kli Yakar is that in that moment they were righteous people who did the right thing, but in the future it would not be the case. G-d can see people’s actions in the future and knew that they would give bad advice. That’s why Moses had to select the people, ones who in his eyes were leaders but in G-d’s eyes would turn the people astray at the first sign of adversity.

The fourth interpretation is to me the most interesting: Kli Yakar wrote that it specifies the word אנשים, men, as opposed to נשים, women. The men in reality did not like the land of Israel and were the ones who said “let us return to Egypt.”[2] The women, on the other hand, were endeared towards Israel, as in the case of Zelophehad’s daughters who said “give us an inheritance (in the land).”[3] G-d wanted Moses to see that it would have been better to send out women who are endeared to the land of Israel. Moses, in contrast, thought that these men would be drawn to the land of Israel, rather than so quickly attempt an about-face towards Egypt.[4]

This text is used to demonstrate the importance of 10 people for a minyan. Because these 10 men did not have faith in G-d leading our ancestors to conquer the land of Israel, 10 are needed to declare praise of G-d three times a day. Moses thought that sending the spies would be an affirmation of their faith in G-d and their belief that they could conquer the land of Canaan. Instead, to his surprise, he found that 5/6th of the spies did not believe that they would prevail. Through this, G-d demonstrated to him that this generation was not ready to enter the Promised Land of Israel, as to engage in battles for the land would require great confidence and faith in oneself, in one’s people and in one’s G-d. Moses needed to learn this lesson for himself.

Being married requires a great deal of faith as we navigate life’s challenges. As I am only married for 3 years, I cannot imagine what it would be like to be married for 66 years like Larry and Lorraine. It must have taken faith in one another and a transcendent love to navigate all the vicissitudes on life’s roller coaster. I’m so happy that you chose to celebrate the affirmation of your love and the years of bliss you’ve share together with us this morning at the JJC.

Larry and Lorraine exemplify for us having faith in why we are here and our ability to transcend any obstacle that we face. Let us learn from their example of commitment and dedication. Often the summer is an excellent time to recharge and prepare for the coming year. In doing so, let us do all that we can to affirm our faith that we will have the wisdom and foresight to meet whatever crosses our path. We wish Lorraine and Larry Mazal Tov for their years of companionship and only good things to come.

[1] Deuteronomy 1:22

[2] Numbers 14:4

[3] Numbers 27:4

[4] Kli Yakar on Numbers 14:2 ד”ה שלח לך אנשים

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