Parshas Shelach 08

This weeks Parsha is Parshas Shelach. In the beginning of the Parsha we read the tragic story of the spies. Moses sent twelve men, each one a great leader in his own right, to see the land of Israel and to bring back a report regarding it. The spies went to Israel, and ten of them came back telling the Jews that the land was too hard for them to conquer. “However, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified; we even saw children of the giant there. Amaleik dwells in the South, and the Chiti, Yevusi, and Emori live in the mountain and the Canaani by the sea and by the Jordan river. (Numbers 13:28-29) Calaiv stood up and tried to turn the tide against this terrible report. “And Calaiv quieted the people to Moses, and he said “We will go up to the land and conquer it, for we are surely able to take it!” (Number 13:30) The spies then stood up and countered the statement of Calaiv. “And the men who had gone with him said “We can’t go against the people, for they are more powerful than us.” (13:31) In the end the report of the spies was accepted by the Jews, and they cried, and complained that they would like to return to Egypt (14:1-5)

For his brave act of standing up against the spies, and trying to convince the Jewish people to be faithful to Hashem, Calaiv received a most special reward. “And my servant Calaiv for having a different spirit and following me fully, I will bring him to the land that he went to, and his children will inherit it.” (Numbers 14:24) This was the gift of the city of Hebron to Calaiv, which the Jews gave Calaiv when they later came to Israel. At first glance, we have to understand, why did Calaiv deserve a reward? What did he really accomplish? True, he was very brave for making his stand, but it didn’t help at all? In the end the Jews went after the ten spies and accepted their verdict. The Jews cried, and the great tragedy of a forty year journey in the desert was decreed upon them. Why then is Calaiv offered all this reward? What good did he really do?

We see from here, Rav Moshe Feinstien comments, that a person gets credit for doing something good, even if it doesn’t last. On a physical level, if someone saves a life, they are credited with saving a life, even if the person who was saved ends up dying a few minutes later. The fact that a life was saved renders it irrelevant if the person who was saved dyed later or not. So to, when a person does something good, the fact that the good thing was done renders it irrelevant whether or not the effects of the deed were long lasting or not. At the time Calaiv did a big mitzvah by convincing the Jews to follow Hashem. Even if in the end the ten spies talked the Jews out of it, he still gets this great reward.

This thought can hopefully give strength and resolve to each of us as we go about trying to accomplish good things in our life. How often do we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of getting down because we’ve tried to do something good and it doesn’t seem to have helped? We must learn from this incident with Calaiv that our job is just to do what we have to. The results are in Hashem’s hands. The satisfaction from doing what we are supposed to, regardless of the results, should give us strength to keep on doing more and more mitzvohs!