Tuesday, July 3, 2012

331 - Shlach

This week's parsha recounts how spies were sent to scout the Land of Israel and how they returned with a derogatory report thereby causing Bnei Yisroel to cry at the thought of entering the Promised Land. This aroused Hashem's wrath and a punishment was immediately decreed. Bnei Yisroel would wander for forty years and the entire generation would perish in the wilderness. Only then would Bnei Yisroel merit entering Eretz Yisroel. 

Nevertheless, there was a group of people that was unwilling to accept this fate. The Torah relates how they woke up early the next morning and, against the will of Hashem, began their ascent toward Eretz Yisroel: "And they defiantly (vayapilu) ascended to the top of the mountain" (Bamidbar 14, 44). Rashi writes that "vayapilu" connotes both strength and boldness (azus). Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) explains that sometimes people are compelled by outside factors to behave or take action in a certain way. Other times people act in a certain way because internally they have decided it is the proper thing to do. When an individual acts out of internal inspiration, he has acted with a measure of azus. 

The group of Bnei Yisroel who forcibly made their way to Eretz Yisroel acted with the above mentioned azus. They decided to do teshuva and enter Eretz Yisroel. However, they disregarded Moshe's warning and followed what their hearts told them was right. The problem was that they disregarded Hashem too. He made it clear that they were to remain in the desert for the next forty years and they decided otherwise.

Yet, there is also a positive side to the coin of azus, and that is azus of kedusha. A person who ignores the multitudes around him who insinuate that one is to live a life of "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die," and instead lives his life with holiness, has demonstrated this azus of kedusha. 

There are many things in the world that "everyone does." However, this should not be the determining factor as to whether we will follow in their footsteps. We ourselves must take the initiative to ascertain what the Torah dictates is the proper course of behavior and then act accordingly. Although such azus often disregards those around us, it puts Hashem at the epicenter of our lives.  

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