In the torah portion of Shlach we read that Hashem says to Moshe “”Send out for yourself men who will scout ( LaToor) the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel.” (Numbers 13:1-2)
Yet in our portion of Devarim we read”… and they came to the valley of Eshkol and spied ( VaYiraglu) it out.” ( Deuteronomy 1:24)
What is the difference between “scouting out ( LaToor) the land” and “spying ( LeRagel ) it out”.
The difference is all a function of purpose and intent. Moshe wanted the twelve scouts to explore the land reveal its greatness and bring back tidings of its promise. Ten of these men did not have the vision to do that. All they saw was their own unworthiness, “And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:33 ).
All that they were able to see was their own fears and insecurities; “ You murmured in your tents and said, ‘”Because the Lord hates us, He took us out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand[s] of the Amorites to exterminate us.” (Deuteronomy 1:27)
The sages in tractate Taanit ( 29a) state that the children of Israel cried a Bichiya Shel Chinam, a baseless cry on the night the spies came with their evil report.. HaShem responds by saying, “You cried for nothing, in the future, this day of Tisha B’av ( the ninth day of the month of Av) is appointed for tragedies and real weeping. “Tisha B’av, then became a day that exemplifies calamity and sadness.
The litany of disasters is staggering
On the 9th of Av (423 BCE) the First Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. On the 9th of Av (69 CE) Titus and his Roman army burnt the Second Temple Then again on this day the Bar Kochba revolt was crushed and the city of Betar – the Jews’ last stand against the Romans – was captured and liquidated On the 9th of Av in 1086 the first Crusade began and on the 9th of Av In 1290 on this date the Jews were expelled from England and then in 1306 from France and in 1492 from Spain, The first killings were recorded to have started at Treblinka on this day. On the 9th of Av in 1990 the Gulf War began and around the 9th of Av 2005 Jews were expelled from Gush Katif. Following that in these same days ,the badly managed “second Lebanese war” was fought. ..and so it goes…
All , seemingly, a result of the first Tisha B’av that occurred over 3000 years ago.
Yet one has to wonder, is this day truly fated for disaster and calamity? Are our spiritual and physical lives as individuals or as a people simply a victim of the pre-determined appointed nature of such days?
G-d is never interested in punishment for punishment’s sake. G-d is always interested in instruction , just like a parent with a child . As Moshe explains;” and in the desert, where you have seen how HaShem , your G-d, has carried you as a man carries his son, all the way that you have gone, until you have come to this place.( Deuteronomy 1:31)
In truth this day of Tisha B’av is a day appointed to do the opposite. Our sages tell us that while it is true that exile began on Tisha b’Av, we are also told that redemption is born on this day as well. It is a day appointed to give us the opportunity to fix the sin of the spies and not to relive it. Yet that will not happen until we overcome those things that led them and subsequently us into sin.
The spies felt unworthy and hated. They sensed that they could not live up to the promise and the destiny. So they lost the ability to see beyond their fears. Those are the same feelings that continue to fester in our people, especially after two thousand years of exile and oppression .If one sees himself “as small as grasshoppers” then one loses the ability to love another . If one feels “hated” by G-d then one loses the courage to have faith.If one cannot truly learn to “see” again then he will view people and situations through the prism of his insecurities and fears.
The resulting baseless and senseless hatred led to the destruction of the Temple on Tisha B’Av. It is the continuation of that same lack of vision and the hatred that comes with it, that has kept it from being rebuilt.
Yet it is the Temple itself that will prove to be the remedy. It is in that place that we would learn to truly see again. Since it is on that mount that the promise of that vision was first established “ And Abraham called the name of that place Adonai-Yireh; as it is said to this day: ‘In the mount where HaShem is seen.'( Genesis 22:14)
“One thing I ask of HaShem, that I seek-that I may dwell in the house of HaShem all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of HaShem and to visit His Temple every morning.( psalm 27:4)