Wednesday, May 29, 2013

why didn't Hashem warn Moshe that sending spies was a bad idea?

Rambam, Hil Rotzei'ach 12:14
וכן כל המכשיל עור בדבר והשיאו עצה שאינה הוגנת או שחיזק ידי עוברי עבירה שהוא עור ואינו רואה דרך האמת מפני תאות לבו הרי זה עובר בלא תעשה שנאמר ולפני עור לא תתן מכשול הבא ליטול ממך עצה תן לו עצה ההוגנת לו:

Rambam, Hil Rotzei'ach 1:14
כל היכול להציל ולא הציל עובר על לא תעמוד על דם רעך. וכן הרואה את חבירו טובע בים. או ליסטים באים עליו. או חיה רעה באה עליו. ויכול להצילו הוא בעצמו. או ששכר אחרים להצילו ולא הציל. או ששמע עובדי כוכבים או מוסרים מחשבים עליו רעה או טומנין לו פח ולא גלה אוזן חבירו והודיעו. או שידע בעובד כוכבים או באונס שהוא בא על חבירו ויכול לפייסו בגלל חבירו להסיר מה שבלבו ולא פייסו וכל כיוצא בדברים אלו. העושה אותם עובר על לא תעמוד על דם רעך:

There is an issur of standing by idly and watching your friend come to harm.  There is an issur of providing bad advice and of abetting someone who is on the wrong path.  So how is it, asks R' Noson Gestetner (link), that Hashem allowed Moshe to send spies into Eretz Yisrael?  Hashem surely knew that no good would come from the mission, so shouldn't he have warned Moshe that it was a bad idea and would lead to harm?

I'm struggling to understand the question.  If Hashem were to intervene in that way, would it not rob us of our free will? 

Perhaps this case is different because Moshe directly asked Hashem whether he should send the spies; however, R' Gestetner does not mention that factor as being crucial in formulating the question, and if indeed there was a moral obligation to save Moshe from harm like the moral obligation to save a drowning person, what difference does it make if he asked or didn't ask?  Even if the person drowining doesn't cry out for help (or can't cry out for help), that doesn't absolve you of the obligation to save him. 

Perhaps you could argue that Hashem has already given us all the clues we need to make the right decisions; it's our own shortcoming if we can't follow directions.  However, Moshe had no way to determine whether sending spies was the correct course of action or not, so Hashem should have intervened.  I don't buy this distinction.  The fact that someone should have learned how to swim better doesn't absolve you of the obligation to jump in and save him if he is drowning.  Secondly, there are plenty of decisions where people are at a loss of what to do and they even daven for Hashem and ask for help -- according to R' Gestetner's reasoning, where are the answers? 


  1. I THINK the Ohr H'Chaim says that Moshe was aware of what would happen by sending spies.(He davened For Yehosua to be saved)He sent them anyway because he saw the way the wind was blowing.People anyway wanted to stay in the Midbor.It would be much better for them to demand to stay as a result of the Meraglim then without then.

  2. It's similar to bderech sh'adam rotzeh lelech molichin Oso, like by war by binyamin, where they asked the urim vtumim. The uvt gave them the answer but they interpreted it differently.