The Pillars of Spiritual Success

Parshat Shelach Numbers 13:1–15:41

In the Torah portion of “Shelach, “ we read how Moshe sent twelve spies into the land to explore its strengths and weaknesses. Ten of these spies return with an evil report and only two, Joshua and Calev (Caleb), declare that “the land is very, very good”.

These “spies” or “scouts” were not ordinary people, as Moshe would not send ordinary people for such a mission. The text describes them as men who were of great spiritual stature:

“Send out for yourself men who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. You shall send one man each for his father’s tribe; each one shall be a chieftain in their midst.”So Moshe sent them from the desert of Paran by the word of Hashem. All of them were men of distinction; they were the heads of the children of Israel.”Numbers 13:2-3).

Yet all the spies except for two , Joshua and Calev ( Caleb) returned with an evil report of the land.

What is it that gave Joshua and Calev the strength to perceive what the others missed? What is it that we can learn from these two individuals that will give us also the tools and the direction to succeed in our own spiritual paths?

After Moshe describes the names of these important leaders of the tribes that he is sending on this mission we read the following:

“These are the names of the men Moshe sent to scout the Land, and Moshe called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.”

Rashi explains that this is to teach us that “Regarding Joshua, Moshe had already prayed for mercy on his behalf, as it says: “And Moshe called Hoshea Yehoshua (Joshua) – [meaning:] May God (Y-ah) save you (yoshiacha) from the intrigue of the scouts.( Tractate sotah 34b)

Joshua represented the devoted student, In fact we actually hear of him being called Joshua every time he is seen acting as the faithful student or servant of Moshe, or when he is acting faithfully his teachers desires

So Moshe and Joshua, his servant, arose, and Moshe ascended to the mount of God.(Exodus 24:13), and “So Moshe said to Joshua, Pick men for us, and go out and fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand Exodus 17:9)

Walking a life immersed and focused on fulfilling a higher purpose is the greatest armor against spiritual failures and downtrodden spirit of inadequacy.

Yet what of Calev?

We read of the entry into the land of the twelve spies:

“They went up in, the south, and he came to Hebron…” (ibid 13:22).

It switches from “they” to “he”. Who was that “he”?

That unnamed individual was Calev who turned aside to pray at the caves of the Patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov. It is there in Hebron that that different spirit was sparked in him. It is not surprising then that it is that place that Calev later receives as an inheritance “And to Calev they gave Hebron” (as his portion in the Land of Israel) (Judges 1:20).

Calev spent time in the place of the Patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov. It is there that Calev reconnects to the history, the promises and the vision that have finally become realized in his days. Calev suddenly realized that he was not an individual facing a somewhat frightening future bit rather he was a fulfillment of a promise , a dream and of a prophecy. The journey of Jewish history continues to be the greatest beacon that lights our direction into destiny. When we focus on where we came from, explore where we have arrived we then have the insight to move forward to where we need to be.

That became his armor to deflect all the worried declarations and cries of fear. And Caleb cried out:

“We can surely go up and take possession of it, for we can indeed overcome it.””( Numbers 13:30)

Those are the two pillars.

The first like Joshua is being immersed as a humble servant in the daily pursuit of higher purpose.

The second like Calev is realizing how each one of is an integral piece and link in the ever developing blossoming of Divine destiny.

Lerefuat Kol HaPtzuim ve Hacholim
Lerefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Chaya Esther

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