Wednesday, June 17, 2015

more on why Kaleiv went to Chevron and an Ishbitzer on the law of non-contradiction

Alu zeh ba’negev v’alisem es ha’har…” (13:17) Did the meraglim really need Moshe Rabeinu to give them travel directions? Couldn’t they figure out on their own where to go and how to get there?

A few years ago we looked at this Midrash:

למה הדבר דומה? למלך, שהיה לו אוהב והתנה עמו ואמר לו: לך עמי ואני נותן לך מתנה. הלך עמו ומת. אמר המלך לבנו של אוהבו: אעפ"י שמת אביך, איני חוזר בי במתנה שאמרתי לו, בוא וטול אתה! כך הדבר, המלך, מלך מלכי המלכים הקב"ה. והאוהב זה אברהם, שנאמר (שם מא): זרע אברהם אוהבי. אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא: בא לך עמי (בראשית יב): לך לך מארצך וממולדתך ומבית אביך. התנה עמו, שיתן לו מתנה, שנאמר (שם יג): קום התהלך בארץ. וכן הוא אומר (שם): כי כל הארץ אשר אתה רואה לך אתננה. אמר לו הקב"ה למשה: אעפ"י שהתנתי עם האבות ליתן להם את הארץ ומתו, איני חוזר בי,

What kind of hava amina is it that because Avraham is dead the promise of Eretz Yisrael is nullified as well? Hashem promised Eretz Yisrael to Avraham for all his descendants to inherit, for generations to come, not as a personal gift to him alone!

The Shem m’Shmuel answers that Hashem’s promise is to deliver Eretz Yisrael to Avraham Avinu; the way Avraham can collect is through that little bit of himself that lives on in each and every one of us. By forsaking the legacy of Avraham, we surrender our rights to that promise. Although one might have thought that the sin of the meraglim was so severe as to breach that link to Avraham, the Midrash teaches us that the promise is still intact.

In light of this perhaps the reason Kaleiv went to daven specifically at Chevron is because he wanted to reinforce that link with the Avos, with Avraham Avinu, as that was the guarantee that Klal Yisrael would inherit the land.

Furthermore, as E. noted in a comment to last week’s post, recall that Ya’akov Avinu sent Yosef from Chevron to meet his brothers. Chazal comment that this was an “eitzah amukah” from the “y’sheiney Chevron,” those who rest in Chevron, i.e. Avraham Avinu, the only one of the Avos buried there at that time, which set into motion the wheels of this plot that would ultimately lead to galus Mitzrayim (apparently this was the best way for that onesh to play itself out). Perhaps Kaleiv saw that the plot of the meraglim would lead to a “bechiya l’doros,” an even greater galus, and so he came back to the “y’sheiney Chevron” to try to ask them this time to intercede to stop that plot rather than further it along.

The gemara in Pesachim (88) tells us that Avraham called the Har haBayis a mountain, Yitzchak called it a field, Ya’akov a house. Moshe told the meraglim first to go south, to the negev. “Ha’rotzeh l’hachkim yadrim” – first, think about what you need to accomplish (see Noam Elimelech). Then, “v’alisem es ha’har,” go climb that mountain – connect with the legacy of Avraham Avinu who called the resting place of the Shechina a mountain, because it is through reinforcing that connection that Eretz Yisrael will become ours.

Now that I’ve said my 2 cents, let me add a thought from the Ishbitzer (in Na’os Desheh). Kaleiv was caught between two incompatible desires: he wanted to get to Eretz Yisrael, and at the same time, he wanted to be with his rebbe, Moshe Rabeinu, who he now knew (thanks to the prophecy of Eldad and Meidad) was not going to make it there. Back in January I posed the following question: does G-d “obey” the law of non-contradiction? The first time we have this question raised, or actually not raised, is when Avraham was given the command to bring Yitzchak as an olah even though Hashem had previously promised him “ki b’Yitzchak yikarei lecha zara.” The two statements are incompatible – yet Avraham was not perturbed in the least. The resolution is not finding a sevara or a peirush Rashi to reconcile the statements, but rather accepting the existence of the contradiction. That’s what Kaleiv was seeking in Chevron – a way to have his cake and eat it, a way like Avraham Avinu, to live with contradictions, and thus to have both Eretz Yisrael and his kesher with Moshe Rabeinu.


  1. Your parenthetic remark shoots the messengers. It's not Eldad uMeidad's fault.

    We didn't merit having Moshe lead us into Eretz Yisrael because of the Cheit haMeraglim.

    Moshe didn't merit leading us because of Mei Merivah.

    BTW, did you ever discuss the reports of giants thing? The giants lived in Chevron, which is why it was called Qiryas Arba. The only person to go there was Calev. So why did the other meraglim report about giants?

  2. Maybe Calev didn't have the inferiority complex of ונהי בעינינו כחגבים