When Moshe sent the twelve spies into the land to explore its strengths and weaknesses, ten came back with an evil report and Joshua and Calev declared that “the land is very very good”.
It is clear that Joshua had the strength to avoid the pitfall of the other spies because he received a special blessing when his name was changed from Hoshea to Yehoshuah ( Rashi, Sotah 34b) Yet Calev also did not fall prey to the disheartened spirit that felled the other ten spies. In fact we hear of Calev,”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.( Bamidbar /Numbers 14:24)
Rashi in tractate Sotah (34b) points to the verse describing the entry of the spies into the land ” They went up in, the south, and he came to Hebron…” ( ibid 13:22) and asks why it did not say “They went up in, the south, and they came to Hebron” . Rashi explains that while the other spies entered from the south and continued forward , Calev, referred to as the “he” then turned aside to pray at the caves of the Patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov.It is in Hebron that that different spirit was sparked in him. As we result in the ensuing torah narrative we read , “And to him (Caleb) I shall give the land upon which he trod”;(Deuteronomy 1:36) and then we read “And to Caleb they gave Hebron” (as his portion in the Land of Israel)(Judges 1:20).
What actually caused the fall of those other ten spies?
The Baal HaTanya asks what led the other ten spies who were clearly chosen because of their spiritual greatness, to fail. Why would men of such great spiritual awareness not want to physically enter the land of Israel.These men, he explains, had experienced the highest spiritual experiences that mortals can envision. They experienced G-d’s great hand in Egypt and at the Red Sea and they heard the Divine voice at Mount Sinai. They lived in the desert but they drank from the miraculous well of Miriam and ate of the manna from heaven and were protected in their voyage by the very clouds of Glory. Why would they want to leave all of that purely spiritual experience and lower themselves into a land where they would by necessity become involved with the physicality of reality. They believed that spirituality is best separated from the physical.
Yet Joshua and Calev declared “The Land is very, very good.” Calev learnt this in Hebron. Calev learnt this from the legacy of his forefathers that the whole point of the people of Israel was to teach the world and themselves that G-d wants the elevation of the physical into the spiritual, not its separation.
Before the exodus from Egypt Hashem appears to Moshe and tells him G-d appears to Moshe and declares: “I am HaShem. I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaacov, as E-l Sha-dai, but by my name HaShem I did not make myself known to them.” (Exodus 6:2-3 )
This statement clearly needs to be understood, since we see that in fact that G-d did appear with the Divine name of Hashem to all our forefathers. To Avraham He appears, as He said to him, “I am HaShem who brought you out of Ur Kasdeem.” (Genesis 15:7) To Yitzchak, we see as well: “He went up from there to Be’er Sheva. HaShem appeared to him that night.” (Genesis 26:23-24) To Jacob as well, as we read: “And behold, HaShem was standing over him and He said, ‘I am HaShem, G-d of Avraham your father and G-d of Isaac.'” (Genesis 28:13)
What, then, does G-d mean when he says, “but my name HaShem I did not make revealed to them”?G-d is saying that I did not need to reveal the attributes of the Ineffable name in my experience with the forefathers.
The name of HaShem (translated as “the L-rd”), as Rashi points out, is the essential name of G-d, working outside of the limitations of nature, in order to fulfill his promises and actualize them. Ramban (Rabbi Moshe Ben-Nachman) maintains that the name Sha-dai on the other hand, represents G-d working within nature.
In all of G-d’s dealings with the Patriarchs, He is discovered, revealed and revered within the parameters of the natural world.The forefathers discovered the intimacy and the spiritual power of HaShem within natural reality.They did not need for Him to be revealed to them in some dramatic or supernatural way.In fact Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov understood that the greatest sanctification of HaShem’s name will be in the fusion of the physical and the spiritual.
As opposed to the spies who wanted to create a false separation between the spiritual and physical dimensions, Calev learnt in Hebron that the opposite is true .This is part of what gave Calev the strength to shout above the others: “Let us by all means go up, ki yachol nuchal lah (“for we shall surely overcome it”) (Numbers 13:30)
The Gaon of Vilna, wrote that it is the “sin of the spies” that will plague the Jewish people throughout the generations until the last days. “Many will fall in this great sin of, ‘They despised the cherished Land.’ Also many guardians of the Torah will not know or understand that they are caught in the sin of the Spies…” (Kol HaTor, Ch.5).
In the midst of all the confusion and fears abounding in the world may we develop true vision. Though our own people may lose hope and determination, may we be blessed with a “different spirit” so that we can loudly declare”ki yachol nuchal lah (“for we shall surely overcome it”)