This week we learn, live and read the Torah portion of Shelach, we study the third chapter of Pirkei Avos, and we bless the new month of Tammuz.
There is an aspect of reward (שכר) that is found both in the Parsha and in the Perek - albeit with a different and unique message.
In the Parsha, the spies who were sent to check the people and the land (in that specific order) came back with a reversed report.
First they praised the land: The land flows with milk and honey.
Then they expressed their fear in the people (the enemy): But the people that dwells in the land is very powerful...
When Caleb heard this report, he immediately silenced them.
He realized that their focus was not in their trust in Hashem and in the directives of Moshe.
Rather, their reply dealt first with the wealth that awaited them.
(See Chayenu this week pg 140).
Once Caleb realized that their focus was on the reward, he silenced them. He understood that when we serve G-d merely because of the promised incentives, we are only prepared to expend effort commensurate with the perceived value of the prize.
The spies' focus, therefore, was certain to lead to the eventual result: their declaration that under the circumstances it was not worthwhile to enter the Land.
Caleb knew that Moshe's directives must be followed to the letter, for even the smallest digression can lead far astray.
Reward is a benefit, but not the focus and priority of one's mission.
In the Perek (3:2) it says: מנין אפילו אחד שיושב ועוסק בתורה שהקדוש -ברוך-הוא קובע לו שכר?
How do I know that even a single individual who sits and occupies himself with the Torah, G-d designates reward for him?
The term קובע לו שכר - designates reward, is unusual. The common term in many places is נותן שכר - rewards, or gives a reward.
Furthermore, what חידוש - what's the novelty, (in our Mishnah) that one who studies Torah is rewarded?
It's a clear verse in the Torah! אם בחוקותי תלכו...ונתתי גשמיכם בעתם וגו?!
If you follow My statutes... I will give your rains in their time etc!
The answer can be understood by introducing a precise difference (as expounded by the Maharal M'Prague in our Mishnah) between the terminology of the beginning (רישא) of our Mishnah and the end (סיפא).
The end of the Mishnah, as mentioned, uses the term עוסק בתורה - who occupies himself with the Torah; whereas the first part of the Mishnah doesn't say: שנים שעוסקין בתורה - two who are occupied with the Torah - but rather: שנים שיושבין ויש ביניהן דברי תורה - two who sit and exchange words of Torah.
Why the difference? The meaning of עוסק בתורה-is explained (Bach, Orach Chaim Siman 47) that it refers to someone who exerts himself as if it's his own - similar to a businessman who doesn't wait for profits to land in his lap - but exerts himself tirelessly, in many ways, in order to profit.
THE MOSHIACH WATCH: In this weeks' Parsha, the spies brought back an "evil report" about the land of Israel. Commentaries and Chassidus explain that the ambivalence to enter Israel was because many were of the feeling, that the physical land of Israel, which required sowing and plowing the land, would take people away from Torah and holiness. The spies erred in their reasoning.
When Moshiach comes, there will be no ambivalence. Every Jew without exception, will want to go to Israel.