Shlach: Holy Espionage

Summaries, Charts, Translations and aids for recorded lecture tapes by Rabbi Ginsburgh

The following is a summary of an audio lecture
for the Torah Portion of Shlach (#E_022)


Holy Espionage

The Weekly Torah Portion of: Shlach

The Mission

One of the main purposes of the Jewish People is to shine God’s light to the world. This purpose can be accomplished in full only when the Jewish People inhabit God’s Land, the Land of Israel. When Moses sent the twelve spies to reconnoiter the Land of Israel, their purpose was not only to investigate enemy positions, but more importantly, to begin to reveal sparks of Divinity in the Land. 

Transforming Ourselves to Holy Spies

The Ba’al Shem Tov taught that when a Jew finds himself in a particular place, it is not by chance. Divine Providence has brought him there, so that he can reveal Divinity in that place. Sometimes a Jewish soul is born just to walk in a place where no Jew had walked before. When he is connected to God, and especially if he recites a blessing or a chapter of Psalms in that place, he elevates all the sparks that had fallen there.

In Kabbalah and Chassidut we learn that the twelve spies, representing all twelve Tribes of Israel, circled all the borders of the Land of Israel. Their mission was to be holy spies–to spiritually sow the land and prepare it for the entry of the Jewish People, when its hidden sparks would be revealed in full. The spies failed miserably at their mission, leaving it to us to rectify their sin. Wherever our feet walk, we must be holy spies, and make the place in which we find ourselves a vessel for Godliness. This principle applies in the Land of Israel as well as in the exile. Chassidut teaches that wherever a Jew is, he must bring the holiness of the Land of Israel to that location. When we fulfill this mission, we rectify the sin of the spies, and transform ourselves to holy spies.

Spying Out the Divine Pearls of Reality

The Hebrew word for “spy” is meragel. The Hebrew for “holy” is kadosh, whose numerical value is 410. The Arizal points out that the most basic Hebrew letters for this number are tav,(400) and yud (10).  When we add the tav and yud of “holy” to “spy,” meragel, we receive a completely new word: margalit, which means “pearl.” The pearls are the Divine sparks, hidden in the deep waters on the ocean bed. In order to become holy spies, we must know how to dive into the depths of the ocean of reality and retrieve the holy sparks that have fallen there. When we do so, we have filled our present reality, no matter where that may be, with the holiness of the Land of Israel.

The Three-Staged Process of Redemption

The redemptive process has three stages:

  • Point: This is the point of faith in the heart of every Jew that God will redeem us from exile and bring us to the Land of Israel.

  • Line: The vector force of actual progress toward the redemption.

  • Area: Settling the Land of Israel–Redemption.

As soon as we leave the “point” consciousness of the exile, and begin the actual progress toward redemption, we have entered a danger zone. The most dangerous point on the line is the point where the line must transform to an area.

Area Consciousness

The consciousness of “area” is essential for settling the Land. Kabbalah and Chassidut teach that the secret of the spies is the vulnerable stage between “line consciousness” and “area consciousness.” Their purpose was to prepare the Jewish People for the transformation from line to area. When they failed at their mission, the entire process collapsed. Their psychological breakdown became the tragedy of the entire generation of the desert.

Today, the Zionist movement is in crisis. It must transform from the “line” vector of progressing toward the redemption of the Land of Israel to the “area” vector of experiencing and enhancing the redemption itself.

The Land is Full of Pearls

In order to be holy spies, we must realize that the Land of Israel is full of pearls, both spiritual and physical. While the Ba’al Shem Tov said that the Land is full of spiritual riches, the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that the Land of Israel is also full of as-yet-unrevealed physical riches.

The ultimate revelation of Mashiach is that just as the ocean bed is covered with the waters of Divine consciousness, the Land is covered with knowledge of God. With this meditation in mind, we can tread on the ground covered with pearls of Divine sparks. This is the true “area consciousness.”

Opening our Eyes

This is the week to become holy spies, revealing pearls in the Land and in each Jewish soul. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that we must realize that the leviathan of the coming of Mashiach is already here. When we open our eyes to see the leviathan and the pearls, we rectify the sin of the spies of our Torah portion and transform ourselves into holy spies.

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