MidrESHET Hayil

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Parashat Shelakh Lekha

Please learn in the Zekhut of a Refuah Shelemah for Sarah Bat Morvarid, Shahin Shemuel Chei Ben Hadassah and for Rachamim Ben Farcha. Thank you! Tizku lemissvot!
Parahat Shelakh Lekha opens with the rather notorious account of the twelve spies appointed to scout Eres Cna’an and their divided reports of the land upon return to Moshe Rabbenu. Ten of the twelve spies testify to the land’s vice while Ca’aleb and Yehoshua offer a more pleasant depiction of the land. A main point of disagreement was the role of the indigenous nations in the future of Am Yisrael’s existence, the notion of war, or in Hebrew, מלחמה . The ten spies cried to Moshe Rabbenu that the land is inhabited by giants living in fortified cities; Ca’aleb declares that Benei Yisrael are capable of overcoming them. If Ca’aleb and Yehoshua sighted the same exact land as the ten other spies, then how could they possibly bring forth an alternate report of the land? What good did the minority of the spies possibly see in the land the consumes its own people?  The answer lies in the very next topic mentioned in the Torah HaKedosha; the topic of Hallah חלה. How so? How can these two disjoint possibly be connected, let alone to reconcile the former’s paradox? If we look closer at the nature of dividing חלה, we may begin to understand the cause behind discrepancy in the spies’ reports. Before חלה becomes חלה, it first exists as לחם . Only after a piece is torn off the לחם and sanctified is the dough elevated to the higher, more spiritual status of חלה.
When Benei Yisrael enter Eres Can’an, they will be faced with war, מלחמה. If we examine the root of the word מלחמה, we find the word לחם . This draws the beginning of the connection between לחם and the spies reports about war with the nations, מלחמה. But how do we connect this to חלה, the following missva in the Torah? Let’s juxtapose the words לחם and חלה. You may notice that both words consist of the same elements except for the last letters, the ה and the ם. Let’s look closer. These two letters bear the same exact shape; a square. They look nearly identical except that the ה has two gaps that seem to be ‘torn off’ the ם. This is the difference between simple ‘bread’ לחם and of sanctified hallah, חלה. Only when a piece is ‘torn off’, seemingly lacking a piece, does the entire entity of dough exist on a higher level; only then is it complete.
In the words of לחם and חלה we can see two different mindsets. One is ‘closed’ minded (the ם) while the ה in חלה resembles ‘open’ mindedness. This was the exact difference between Ca’aleb and Yehoshua and the other ten spies. Although the facts they were all presented were identical, their mindsets differed as reflected in their alternate reports. It is true, both parties witness giants residing in fortified cities, but their outlooks on this phenomenon were radically opposing.
When the spies entered the land, the group of ten spies realized it would be difficult to serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu among goyim, that’s why didn’t want to enter and offered a negative report in order to prevent Am Yisrael from doing so. They thought they wouldn’t be able to handle it; it was easier in desert where there were no external influences and they were able to peacefully serve HaShem with not challenges. However, Ca’aleb and Yehoshua looked at the situation differently. They didn’t view he fact that the goyim resided in the land as an obstacle, they viewed it as an opportunity to grow stronger and stick closer to HaShem.  Sometimes we have to rip off a part of ourselves and sanctify it like we do with the חלה in order to reach a holier status.  Its easy to serve HaShem in a desert or vacuum where He provides everything, this is the real test. When we live among other nations in the land, will we still depend on Him? Will we still recognize Him? Are we going to assimilate due to our ‘closed’ mindedness and remain as simple לחם ? Or by separating ourselves like we separate the חלה will we elevate ourselves even though we feel like at times parts of us are being ‘torn off’ as sacrifices and offerings? It is all in our mindset in any given place; keep an open mind, be the חלה.

Wishing everybody a Shabbat Shalom u’mevorakh! Enjoy your חלה!

Ariella Samimi

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