Parshas Shlach - Gratitude and Attitude

By Rabbi Yosef Tropper

Posted on 06/27/19

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  1) Why is the Season Significant?

In Parshas Shlach the Meraglim are sent, and in perek 13, pasuk 20, they are told, “V’hischazaktem.”  Be strong.  Probably because the fruit was very heavy.  “v’lakachtem mipri ha’aretz.”  Take from the fruit of the land.  “v’hayamim yimei bikurei anavim.”  It was during the harvest of grapes. What’s the point of saying what time of year it was?  So, more so, says the Gra, we’ll figure out what time of year it is when they see that they actually brought back a bundle of grapes.  We know that. 

“V’hayamim yimei bikurei anavim” is a hint to the Yeitzer Harah

Gra says that there’s something else going on here.  We spoke about this last week, and that is that the letters, “Hayamim yimei bikurei anavim”, the last letters spell out Mem-Yud-Yud-Mem, and that’s the gematria of Samech-Mem.  We talked about the Angel of Eisav, the Yeitzer Harah really.  The Saro shel Eisav, and the Yeitzer Harah.  That’s what is going on here that this was his plot, and he got them, and they gave into him.  And, again, what’s the biggest thing that he stands for?  He stands for lack of hakaras hatov.  

Hashem created us, like Rashi in Sanhedrin says, daf Mem, that, really, technically, and again, this is not halachicly, but, any time that you rebel against the king, you are really chayav misah. The Rebono Shel Olam made it that if you go against a law, sometimes, you only get malkos.  Sometimes you don’t even get punished from beis din, so that’s a rachmanus that Hashem has on us because really we’re chayav misah.  And, so, the biggest lesson that we could learn here, or, one of the lessons I should say, of meraglim is that a person has a lack of hakaras hatov, is really being a merageil.  He’s not recognizing what Hashem did. 

2) Bikurrim are mechapeir for cheit hameraglim

That’s why it’s brought down from the Arizal the hint to this pasuk is that it’s teaching us that bikurim are mechapeir on the maaseh hameraglim.  And, the pasuk says these three things that they brought back: grapes and figs and a pomegranate, and that’s what the mishna in bikurim says that a guy goes into his field and he sees a te’einah, a fig that is starting to blossom, he ties a red string around it to remind him.  What’s the p’shat that it’s mechapeir.  The answer is that this lack of hakaras hatov is the foundation.  You don’t recognize all that Hashem is doing?  He made people die in the city, not because it’s “eretz ocheles yoshveha”, but so that they’ll be distracted from you.  And, He gave you great fruit, not so you could scare everyone and say: Wow, they’re giants and we’re all going to die.  But, so that you could enjoy it.  And, enjoy the pleasures that Hashem gives you.  So, that’s what it is all about.  It’s about enjoying the greatness and the bounty that Hashem blesses us with. 

3) “V’nakeh lo yinakeh” – Why is “v’nakeh” rachamim?

Moving on, we have some of the Yud-Gimel middos where Moshe tries to daven to Hashem to save the Jews after the cheit hameraglim.  Perek 14, pasuk 18.  “V’nakeh lo yinakeh.”  So, Hashem avenges, or sometimes doesn’t avenge.  So, the question is “v’nakeh”, He avenges, why is that rachamim if this is from the Yud-Gimel middos harachamim.  “Lo yinakeh” means He doesn’t avenge things. 

When Hashem punishes in this world it saves us from punishment in the next

So, one simple understanding, besides the Gra’s p’shat which I’m about to say is just that Hashem knows that sometimes we do need to get our punishment in this world, and that’s nakeh.  He pays us in this world so that we don’t get punished in the future world. 

When you remove “Kan-kan” from “v’nakeh lo yinakeh” you get Sheim Hashem

Gra says a different p’shat.  He says based on the mishna.  It’s very criptic, but he says that the mishna says in Pirkei Avos, “Al tistakeil b’kankan elah b’mah sh’yeish bo.”  Don’t look at the barrel, but what’s inside it.  Meaning, in simple understanding, look at the barrel, the quality inside the barrel is most important.  But, says the Gra, that this is saying something else.  “Al tistakeil b’kan”.  Don’t look at the letters Kuf-Nun.  “Elah mah sh’yeish bo”.  So, if you take out the words “kan, kan”.  “Al tistakeil b’kan-kan” from the words “V’nakeh lo yinakeh”, so then you just get the Sheim Hashem because you get the letters Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay that are the only ones that are left.  So, it’s a very fascinating thing.  That’s what it’s saying.  It’s saying that you have rachamim when you don’t stare at the letters kan-kan.  So, that’s the Gra.

Punishment in this world is rachamim

What I believe it’s saying that the recognition that “nakeh” and “lo yenakeh” are all coming from rachamim because Hashem wants us to get our punishment in this world.  It’s like the Sefer Hayashar by Rabbeinu Tam says.  If you want to know if the Rebono Shel Olam still loves you, or maybe He just gave up on you and doesn’t care anymore, if you have tzarros in your life you know that he still cares because if He gives up on you, and just says: All right.  Let him live out his life.  Forget it.  He’s not going to have any Olam Habah, then you should be nervous.  Like it says that David Hamelech had nightmares and trials and tribulations in his life, and he knew that Hashem was always with him.  Now, of course, lo lidei nisayon.  We don’t ask for bad things to happen to us, but when challenges happen we should realize that the Rebono Shel Olam is with us, and cares about us. 

4) “V’nakeh lo yinakeh” has roshei and sofei teivos Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay

Another p’shat brought down in a peirush on Tikunei Zohar b’sheim the Gra is the same idea that “v’nakeh lo yinakeh” has roshei and sofei teivos Yud-Kay-Vav-Kay.  And, this hints to, and we spoke about this earlier that Yud-Hei and Vav-Hei.  Yud-Hei stands for “zeh Shimi l’olam” and Vav-Hei stands for “zeh zichri”, and you’ll have to see back what we explained about that.  But, it’s the same exact idea. 

5) 36 Tzaddikkim Locale

Moving on to perek 15, pasuk 24.  “V’haya im einei ha’eidah nesah bishgagah”.  If the people make a mistake.  Beis Din makes a mistake.  The Gra brings down in his peirush in Tikunei Zohar an interesting idea that there’s Lamed-Vav tzaddikim, but these Lamed-Vav tzaddikim that their merit keeps the world alive, it’s actually not just thirty-six, it’s actually seventy-two.  It’s seventy-two, and it’s thirty-six in Eretz Yisrael and thirty-six in Chutz La’aretz.  And, just like there needs to be seventy-two in the zikeinim, that’s what they represented, so too, that’s what has to happen.  And, they are called the einei ha’eidah, and that’s what’s going on over here.  And, it’s interesting because Parshas Yisro, which talks about the einei ha’eidah is seventy-two pesukim long, which might tie in over here. 

6) Hashem is samei’ach b’chelko in whatever tzaddikim there are in each generation

Another thing is that there’s a Yerushalmi that the Gra brings down, but Rav Chaim Kanievsky points out that it’s not a Yerushalmi that we have.  It’s actually a Tana D’vei Eliyahu in the beginning of perek 1.  That’s where I saw it inside.  It says, “Eizeh hu ashir?  Hasamei’ach b’chelko.”  The mishna in Avos, Chazal teach us: Who’s a rich person?  He who’s happy with his portion.  The Tana D’vei ELiyahu says, “Zeh Hakadosh Baruch Hu.”  That’s Hashem.  What does that mean?  So, the Gra explains that in every generation there’s Lamed-Vav tzaddikim, but they’re not, neccesarily, all equal to previous generations.  But, the Rebono Shel Olam is sameiach b’chelko, and says: I love these people.  I love them, and I’ll take them whatever they are. 

We shouldn’t get disheartened; Hashem is samei’ach b’chelko with us

So, this is a lesson for us that we shouldn’t ever get dishearted and say: Who are we?  What are we?  How do we compare?  No, on the contrary.  We are great, and we have the opportunity to be great, and the Rebono Shel Olam is samei’ach b’chelko in us.  Just like he teaches us to be samei’ach b’chelko, to have histapkus when it comes to our physical desires.  So too, the Rebono Shel Olam is samei’ach b’chelko, and says: I’ll take whatever you could give me; just show Me that you’re giving Me something that you’re being moser nefesh for Me.  That’s the p’shat over here.  And, the Gra explains this in a few places. 

7) “Ahavah rabbah” is Hashem’s love for the tzaddikim of the previous generations; “Ahavas Olam” is Hashem’s love for the tzaddikim of our generation

This is kind of based on a peirush that he says in Mishlei.  But, it’s also brought down by Rav Mordechai Epstein, not the Moshe Mordechai Epstein.  It’s someone who lived in the time of the Gra.  A talmid of his.  What he says is a fascinating thing.  In Shachris the Ashkenaz nusach is “ahavah rabbah”.  You say: Hashem has great love for us.  And, in arvis, we say it’s “ahavas olam”, an eternal love.  And, what’s going on over here?  That the p’shat is, and I heard this from Rav Asher Zelig Rubinstein zt”l, my rosh yeshiva, that Rav Chatzkel used to bring this down also that it’s a Gra from the beginning of Shir Hashirrim that he says that “ahava rabba”, that refers to the great love that Hashem had for the earlier tzaddikim.  Now, one second.  Let me just explain what I’m quoting from who.  So, this is the p’shat that has to do with us, and then I’ll explain the p’shat that I heard from my rebbe which ties in.  It’s the same p’shat of the Gra, but it’s in different context.  So, this is the p’shat from Rav Mordechai Epstein.  He says he heard this from the Gra.  That “ahavah rabbah”, Hashem has great, emense love, that refers to the tzaddikim in the past generations.  But, then, when it comes to our generation, where we don’t compare as much, but yet Hashem says, “ahavas olam”.  I’m eternally committed to love you anyway even though it’s hard, Hashem is samei’ach b’chelko. 

“Ahavah rabbah” is Hashem’s love seen clearly when everything is good; “Ahavas Olam” is Hashem’s love that is still there when it’s dark and we don’t see it

I heard from my rebbe, Rav Asher Rubinstein zt”l that, and this is a Gra in Shir Hashirrim, and it’s the same exact idea.  That “ahavah rabbah” means that Hashem has tremendous love for us during the morning, “l’hagid babokeir chasdecha”.  Everything is good.  We could see that emense amount of love.  But, in the dark time, in maariv, when we get to Arvis, and it’s so dark that we don’t see it, but know that Hashem says, “ahavas olam”.  I’m committed to you forever.  Don’t worry.  Even when it’s dark, I’m still here, and that is a tremendous lesson in life.  Now, you might ask me: What about nusach sfard.  They have a different p’shat.  So, you’ll have to explain why they say it differently, and I’m sure that it could be tied in as well. 

8) When does Olam Habah take place?

So perek 15, pasuk 31.  “Ki d’var Hashem bazah v’es mitzvosav heifeir.  HIkareis tikareis hanefesh ha?? Habah?”  So, the gemara talks about kareis.  And, we’ve talked about this before as well.  There is a machlokes rishonim what the order is, when does Olam Habah take place.  So, the Rambam.  It’s a famous machlokes.  The Rambam writes that Olam Habah is the world that happens after a person dies, and the tzaddikim get a tremendous reward then.  The Ramban says that Olam Habah is Olam Hatechiyah that the techiyas hameisim will take place.  

However, the Gra says that you have a rayah for the Rambam, and ,remember, the Gra was not necessarily the biggest fan of all of the Rambam’s p’shatim.  In Yoreh De’ah he says that he was influenced by Aristotale in some of the things that he said.  But, in this case, he said that we say it in davening.   “Ein k’erkicha Hashem Elokeinu b’Olam Hazeh.  V’ein zulasicha malkeinu l’chayeie Haolam Habah.”  That comes second.  “Efes bilticha go’aleinu limos hamashiach, v’ein domeh licha moishieinu l’tichiyas hameisim”.  That’s a proof that techiyas hameisim comes last.  That’s a proof for the Rambam.  Although, we could say that they all overlap.  I always wondered if each tzaddik would have a different reward based on his own drasha.  But, the real p’shat is “eilu v’eilu divrei Elokim chaim”.  Hashem will have to combine all of them which is what eilu v’eilu does. 

9) The Mekosheish is next to avodah zarah because it’s the same thing

Moving on we have the story of the mikosheish eitzim in perek 15, pasuk 32 through pasuk 38.  So, the Gra brings down a fascinating thing, and that is that he was mechalel Shabbos, and a person who is mechalel Shabbos it’s as if he’s oveid avodah zrah, that’s why the story of mikosheish is right next to avodah zarah because it’s the same thing. 

The melachos of Shabbos are hinted to in the tzitzis

So, the Gra brings down that we find that the tzitzis tie into Shabbos.  Why?  Because there’s thirty-nine wrappings that we do in our tzitzis.  And, just like the melachos are divided into four sections, so too there’s four sections of our tzitzis.  So, zorei’a, planting has thirteen melachos, and we have thirteen wrappings in the first time we wrap the tzitzis, and then arigah, making a garment, has eleven melachos.  We have eleven wrappings, and pulling out wood and creating wood is eight melachos, and then the rest are all nine, and that is merameiz in the tzitzis.  And, if you take the thirty-nine strings that we wear times four because we wear it on all four sides.  So, the Gra doesn’t say this, but I heard in his name as well, and you multiply by fours, so thirty-nine times four is a hundred and fifty-six.  That’s the amount of blatt that there are in Meseches Shabbos.  Remember, Shabbos starts on daf beis, so you have to subtract one.  So, there’s a hundred and fifty-six blatt of gemara.  Very fascinating.  Also, I heard a p’shat that we have twenty-four perakim in meseches Shabbos for the twenty-four hours of Shabbos that you could learn one for every hour.  Obviously, many tzaddikim have stayed up on Shabbos, but we do sleep.  But, anyways, it’s the idea that Shabbos is permeating our lives. 

10) Techeiles will Disappear

Perek 15, pasuk 37.  “V’asu lahem tzitzis al kanfei bigdeihem l’dorosam”.  So, the Gra brings down a remez here which is a big controversy, but the Gra brings down b’Sheim the Griz, says that he had a mesorah like this.  And, of course, many, like the Radziner and other people would argue with this and say that it’s not correct, but he says, “V’asu lahem tzitzis”, so “al kanfei bigdeihem l’dorosam”.  Why does it say that they should have it “l’dorosav”.  “V’nasnu al hatzitzis p’sil ticheiles” comes afterwards?  So, the p’shat is that the only thing that’s going to be l’dorosam is going to be the white of the tzitzis.  But, the “v’nasnu al hatzitzis hakanaf psil techeiles” that techeiles will not be around.  We’ll lose it.  The only thing that’s l’dorosam is the tzitzis that you’re going to put them for the white.  And, again, that’s why the Aruch Hashulchan brings down that we’ll never have it until Mashiach comes.  And, there’s a supposed quote of the Arizal that it’s also missing.  My rebbei’im did not wear techeiles, or did not encourage people to wear techeiles.  But, of course, there certain is a tremendous amount of research and tremendous talmidei chachamim that have their opinions about it, and I’m sure that they are l’sheim shamayim and that it’s a wonderful and fascinating topic. 

11) The Torak is mechapeir for aveiros caused by hirhurrim

We have the pasuk of “Lo sasuru acharei livavchem v’acharei eineichem” and two more thoughts just on that.  So, they asked Rav Chaim Vulvuzin that a man was nichshal in an aveirah of bad thoughts that led him to an action, and so he said: How should I do teshuva.  Now, Rav Moshe has a famous teshuva on this.  But, Rav Chaim Vuluzin basically said a very similar thing.  He said: I asked the Gra, and the Gra said that in the Tikunei Hazohar that even though it’s a very strict aveirah, a person has to live b’kedusha, but the person that learns Torah, that’s mechapeir.  And, the Steipler explained that since aveiros of hirhurrim emenate in the head, in the mind.  So, the only thing that could be mechapeir is Torah because Torah is “chol besaro marpei”.  It affects your whole body.  And, that’s the only teshuva.  Whereas other maasim that you do are only mesakein that limb that you did that aveirah with, the Torah it involves your whole body, so it’s mechapeir.  And, Rav Chaim Vuluzin said that although the sefarim bring down the chomeir of the aveirah, they never ever talk about the fix for it, and that’s inappropriate because that’s not the purpose of a sefer to scare you off, but the bottom line is that Torah is marpeh everything, and Torah gives the person the strength to withstand any aveirah. 

12) Even if your heart already started going after your eyes, when your eyes see again, you could still make another choice

And finally, “lo sasuru”.  We know from the gemara that “Ayin ro’eh v’leiv chomeid”.   Your eye sees something.  Your eye is the window into the soul, and your heart desires.  What’s the p’shat over here?  Why does it say, “acharei eineichem v’acharei livavchem”, what’s the p’shat?  Why does it say, “Acharei livavchem v’acharei eineichem.”  Why does it say your heart first?  So, the Gra says that that which it’s hinting to a very, very important thing, and that is that there’s a story in the gemara Menachos 44a, there was a man that was going after a zonah, and he was very makpid on wearing tzitzis, and his tzitzis reminded him about Hashem and he stopped what he was doing.  And, he stopped the act, and she was insulted, and she thought that she wasn’t attractive, and she said: How could you stop?  And, he said: I reminded myself of tzitzis, and she became a baalas teshuva, and he became a baal teshuva, and they ended up getting married b’heter and b’kedusha u’v’tehara.  Anyway, so what’s the p’shat?  So, the Gra says that that’s p’shat.  V’lo sasuru acharei livavchem v’acharei eineichem is even if your heart already made a mistake, and already started.  Your eyes saw it and then your heart wanted it, and your heart started going, and now your eye sees it again, you could still make another choice.  It could even stop you from that place.  It’s an amazing thing.

Your heart tells your eyes what to look at

I believe that there’s a little bit of a depth here which is that “lo sasuru acharei livavchem v’acharei eineichem”, it’s true that your eyes see it first, but your heart tells your eyes what to look at because deep down your heart knows what it wants, and if you train your heart to be kadosh v’tahor and to focus on Hashem b’kedusha and holiness, then that will help control it because, otherwise, chas v’shalom, you’re exposed to things and your kedusha is constantly compromised.  We live in a world where it’s so important to be kadosh.  I hope we will take these lessons and become great people.


Rabbi Yosef Tropper is a rabbi and psychotherapist. Subscribe at ParshaThemes.com