Sin Of The Meraglim

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By Rabbi Beirach Steinfeld

If one analyzes the sin of the meraglim, several sins can be seen. The first sin would be the lack of emunah in HashemHashem promised us a beautiful land and they did not believe that to be true. Another sin that comes to mind is the sin of lashon horaKfira can be counted as another sin when the meraglimexpressed themselves by stating that the people in Eretz Yisroel are stronger than Hashem. They also lied when they said, “We felt like grasshoppers next to them and that is what they thought of us.”  They could not know what other people thought of them. All these aveiros were part of the sin of the meraglim, as any big sin that impacts many generations usually has many sins included within. The Mishna in Eiruchin 15a says that the main aveira was lashon hora. We see from this story that what one utters from the mouth can be worse than the maaseh of another person, as we see that the fate of Klal Yisroel not to enter Eretz Yisroel for forty years was sealed only because they spoke lashon hora.

We need to analyze the lashon hora regarding who it was said about and what was said. We can’t say that it was against Hashem, because that would be much worse than lashon hora. That would be the aveira of kfira. We find in the above mentioned gemara that the lashon hora was said against Eretz Yisroel since they reported that the land has bad air and destroys its inhabitants. Based on this, Reb Elazar ben Parta says that one should see the terrible act of lashon hora. The meraglim, who only spoke about wood and stones were punished by death. What will happen to somebody who speaks negatively about another Jew? Of course, he will be punished! That is why the posuk says that the people died because they were the ones who spoke bad about the land (dibas ha’aretz.) The question that arises is, what is the problem with saying lashon hora on an inanimate object (domeim)? If I go ahead and say that my car is not good, my house is not nice, or I live in a city that is crime ridden, am I oveir on issur lashon hora? In the Chafetz Chaim we don’t find it an issur regarding speaking negatively about an inanimate object.  In Shmiras Halashon in Shaar Hazechira 5, the Chafetz Chaim discusses the above mentioned Gemara; however, we still need to understand why the meraglim were punished so severely for an aveirah that isn’t so clearly forbidden, speaking negatively about an inanimate object?

There are a number of answers to explain. The first answer is based on the Ramchal in Derech Hashem V2 C5 where he says that Hashem put a malachin charge of every tree and object. It is the malach’s job to keep that object strong and safe. The meraglim spoke against these malachim saying that they were not doing their job properly. Understanding the concept that every living thing has a malach in charge of it, when somebody speaks against it, they have committed a terrible aveira!

A second answer could be explained as follows. Reuven is trying to sell merchandise to Shimon. Levi comes over and says that the merchandise is not good. Levi may be speaking about an inanimate object, but there is an issur of rechilus since he is affecting Reuven’s ability to sell his merchandise. The meraglimspoke negatively about the merchandise that Hashem promised to give the Bnei Yisroel!

A third and final tirutz is based on a story that is brought down in the Zohar. There were two tana’im walking and one of them tripped on a stone. The tana expressed outrage and said something against the stone. The other tana gave him mussar and said, “How can you speak against the stone? Despite the fact that it is a domeim it still has self-respect in its own way, and you were speaking against it!” The Zohar is saying that the fact that this domeim is on this world shows that this is what Hashem wanted to be here at this time and speaking against it is speaking against Hashem’s honor, Rachmana Litzlan. The meraglim should have realized this.

May we all learn to appreciate everything that is on this world and train ourselves to speak positively about everything!

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