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Parshas Shlach

So Reliable

By Rabbi Label Lam

And HASHEM spoke to Moshe saying, "Send out for yourself men who will scout the Land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel. You shall send one man each for his father's tribe; each one shall be a chieftain in their midst." (Bamidbar 13:1-2)

What is the relevance of learning again and again about the spies being sent into the Land of Israel? Is it just an interesting historical tale? Of course not! Torah is all about life, as we say daily, “Ki Hem Chayaynu- Because they (the worlds of Torah) are our life! Another way to read it may be what happened to them (ki hem chayaynu) is our life!

To expand the idea the and to focus it like a laser beam back home, the Sefas Emes quotes the Midrash, “There is nothing more dear to HASHEM than a messenger who is sent to do a Mitzvah and he dedicates the entirety of his soul that his mission should be successful.” The Sefas Emes explains that we are all messengers of HASHEM sent on a sacred mission into this world to fulfill his Mitzvos!”

Since HASHEM’s kingship encompasses the entire world there is not one deed that a person does that does not have in it a Mitzvah. Only it is necessary that the person has to devote his whole soul to his task and to gather all his powers and sublimate them to the higher desire, and through this he will he will be successful in his mission and he will do the Mitzvos appropriately!”

A colleague of mine, at school has on his desk a button from Staples that recites aloud when you press it, “That was easy!” Every time he wants to punctuate an accomplishment he half-jokingly pushes it down and you hear, “That was easy!” I told him that I want to make a new one that declares something different and more educational sound, “That was hard! But it was worth it!”

It’s not easy to follow the prescription of the Sefas Emes in this world of distractions and diversions, and in an age of too much information and misinformation it seems almost impossible.

It’s no wonder King Solomon, the wisest of all men in Mishlei writes, “Many men (Adam) are called a person (ish) of kindliness, but a reliable person (ish emunim) who can find!?” Rashi points out that the word for the man of kindliness is a lower designation –Adam- and he is just called by a higher term, “ish”. However to find a person, an ish of emuna- reliability and loyalty, this is rare to find!

This means more than, “It’s hard to find good help!” Rabbi Shraga Silverstein penned in a book called a Candle by Day, a collection his own home grown aphorisms the following profound one liner, “It easy to make your presence felt but it’s hard to make your absence felt!”These are the ones we notice most when they exit this world. They were steady and reliable but almost invisible, while others made a great storm of sound and fury before leaving the stage of life, their survivors breathe a sigh of relief! That may be the ultimate yardstick of the ish emunim- the rare- reliable servant!I don’t know if we have a picture of what this really means!

My son told me he heard from Dayan Dunner when he eulogized Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv ztl. who passed away just this past year. A fellow who lived in America told Dayan Dunner of the following remarkable exchange. As a young man this person had studied in Israel. Many decades later, back in the land of Israel, he made his way to an old but familiar landmark of the past when he entered the small and unassuming study hall where Reb Elyashiv learned his entire long life. It was in that place he grew to become the Gadol HaDor!

He approached Rabbi Elyashiv who was then in his 60’s and asked him, “I remember being here many years and there was a little boy who learned a whole day, with excitement, and a beautiful niggun (song). What ever became of him?” Reb Elyashiv responded to him before returning to his studies, “He’s still sitting in the same seat!” Rabbi Dunner added, “He remained there for another 50 years!” Just like a woman of valor, who can find someone so reliable!?

DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and



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