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Is Kaleiv successful?

 

Ostensibly, it seems like a silly question. The Meraglim bequeath us the tragic legacy of Tisha B'av. We are still reeling.

 

Yet, our visceral negative response may overlook a nuanced picture of accomplishment, even when followed by ultimate failure; mortal man finds it hard to escape a result-based evaluation; he who dwells in the world of the bottom line may relegate anything short-lived as a pyrrhic and unimportant victory.

 

Thankfully - God sees it differently; A Divine world is not only about the bottom line; moments matter. [1] In Talmudic terminology, Hashem does not deny reward from any creature

 

Thus to suggest that Kaleiv's momentary Kiddush Hashem of infusing hope and strength precisely when the Meraglim insinuate gloom and doom (they are fortifies cities and by the way, Amalek lives here) is monumental - is both plausible and compelling. Consider: Who can grasp the hugeness of a moment that turns an entire nation into believers ? [even as the Meraglim finally foist their myth of Kanaanite invincibility upon a willing to believe masses]

 

A simple Ibn Ezra based proof demonstrates this notion: [Bamidbar, 14:24]

But as for My servant Caleb, since he was possessed by another spirit, and he followed Me, I will bring him to the land to which he came, and his descendants will drive it[s inhabitants] out.

 

Two questions; a. why is Yehoshua not mentioned here? b. other than admission into the land [which is not per se a reward] , what does Yehoshua receive for his reward? For Ramban, Yehoshua's omission is a matter of propriety; Yehoshua's reward is certainly great:

And Yehoshua's reward was not mentioned it is not worthy to mention it right now for he is to replace Moshe

 

For Ibn Ezra, however, Kaleiv seems to get something extra - for he achieved that which Yehoshua did not:

He mentioned him alone because he quieted the people [Bamidbar, 13:30]

 

From Ibn Ezra, the notion is clear: every moment matters. A similar momentary Kiddush Hashem notion emerges in a most unexpected location: In the text immediately preceding the splitting of the sea [Shemos, 14:4]:

v'chizakti es leiv paroh v'radaf achareihem .... v'yadu mitzrayim ki ani Hashem - Hashem will harden/strengthen Paroh's heart in order to glorify via Paroh and so that Mitzrayim shall know that I am Hashem

 

But did not these Egyptians die? Ibn Ezra words enlighten[2]:

those that remained and those that drowned [shall know] before their death.

 

2. One final point: Wherein lies the power of Kaleiv's momentary triumph ?

First, note the dysfunctionality of the Meraglim/Kaleiv exchange; herein lies , lies a key

 

The Meraglim say:

27. They told him and said, "We came to the land to which you sent us, and it is flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.   28. However, the people who inhabit the land are mighty, and the cities are extremely huge and fortified, and there we saw even the offspring of the giant 29. The Amalekites dwell in the south land, while the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountainous region. The Canaanites dwell on the coast and alongside the Jordan."  

 

The people are demoralized - for ostensibly the Kanaanites are just too strong.

Kaleiv responds:

 

30. Caleb silenced the people to [hear about] Moses, and he said, "We can[yachol nuchal]  surely go up and take possession of it, for we can indeed overcome it." :

 

Remarkably, Kaleiv does not address any of the essential Meraglim's claim of Kanaanite invincibility. Yet he is so successful, that the Meraglim feel the need to rebut:

 

31. But the men who went up with him said, "We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.

 

Wherein Kaleiv's power? Perhaps, it is Kaleiv's use of a word that appears only this one time in the Torah and never again; that is [the full spelling of the word] yachol [ability]. [Note as well that this is the word the Meraglim  feel compelled to respond to] It is almost as if Kaleiv is saying to the people. It's not about them. YOU can do it. If you dig deep down and tap into your full kochos, you have the potential to accomplish unbelievable things

 

Kaleiv realizes that root of the problem lies not in the objective reality of external power; rather it is found within, in the puny self perception of the nation. One's greatness therefore, is only limited by one's self perception.  

 

To the extent that one doubts his kochos, one is limited. He who can summon the constant sense of Rabah Emunasecha, that Hashem has great faith in me and thus I must be worth it, empowers himself to accomplish the Divine mission inherent in one's life work.

 

Kaleiv teaches us that moments matter and so do we. Let us work hard to live the message.

 

Good Shabbos,

Asher Brander 

 

[1] Thus Eglon King of Moav walks three deferential steps in recognition of God and is rewarded and Eisav's sincere cry does not go unnoticed.

[2] Cf Ibn ezra, 14:25. Cf also Rashi on Shemos, 15:12 - tivlaeimo aretz

 


 
   
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