“Vayishlach Yehoshua...Miraglim……” [Likkutei Torah p. 102]
This week’s Haftorah, mentions the sending of spies to Yericho by Yehoshua, and thus relates to the similar action taken by Moshe in this week’s Parsha. We are all aware of the episode that occurred with the spies sent by Moshe and the tragic outcomes that resulted; the entire Jewish people between the ages of 20 and 60 were destined to die in the desert and not enter into Eretz Yisrael as result of the sin.
We would think that such a spy mission would never be repeated in our history, and certainly not by those that lived in that generation, having learned from the lessons of the previous outcomes.
Thus it is most puzzling and surprising that we find in the Haftorah that once again prior to the conquering of Eretz Yisrael, after the conclusion of the 40 year decree of wandering in the desert, the leadership again decides to send spies! And which leader does so? Yehoshua, the prime pupil of Moshe and one of the members of the previously tragically failed mission!
In this Maamar the Alter Rebbe delves into the spiritual conquering of Eretz Yisrael and the spiritual task of sending spies which is accompanied with it. Just as there exists a physical land called Eretz Canaan, which is desolate of holiness and requires conquering by the Jewish people, so too the body and animal soul of each Jewish person is considered an Eretz Canaan which requires conquering by the Jewish people, the G-dly soul, in order to be turned into Eretz Yisrael.
This fervor for Eretz Yisroel is applicable in each generation to every Jew, as each Jew is given the task of conquering his personal Eretz Yisrael found within his nature and soul. However the goals of this achievement must be realistic with the capabilities that one is given for battle. Ideally one would entertain the idea of conquering the body and animal soul until complete surrender, and integration into the holy society, having it join the efforts of the G-dly soul in serving G-d, and ceasing all thoughts or activity that is contrary to his will.
However realistically, this goal is not truly achievable by majority of people, as by most people, other than Tzaddikim, the animal soul will always retain some animalistic sentiments which run contrary to G-d’s will, and thus the achievable goal of conquering is simply to prevent the animal soul from ever expressing its evil tendencies, neither in though speech or action. The goal is to stand guard that the animal soul is never given a podium to express its evil inclinations within the body.
This difference of goals was the core difference between the spies of Moshe and Yehoshua. While Moshe intended on sending spies to help conquer the essence of the enemy and turn them into G-dly citizens, Yehoshua simply desired to control the enemy and prevent it from committing acts of spiritual terror.
Moshe’s goals were high and unrealistic for the next generation, and hence met a tragic outcome. Yehoshua’s goals however are within the reach of every Jew, and hence his spies were successful in their mission and brought about the conquering of Eretz Yisrael in that generation.
For the entire Maamar click here