Kosher… but wicked – Shabbat Kodesh Parshat Shelach Lecha

This week with start reading about the Meraglim, the “spies”:

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ שְׁלַח־לְךָ֣ אֲנָשִׁ֗ים וְיָתֻ֙רוּ֙ אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן אֲשֶׁר־אֲנִ֥י נֹתֵ֖ן לִבְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אִ֣ישׁ אֶחָד֩ אִ֨ישׁ אֶחָ֜ד לְמַטֵּ֤ה אֲבֹתָיו֙ תִּשְׁלָ֔חוּ כֹּ֖ל נָשִׂ֥יא בָהֶֽם׃

Hashem spoke to Moses, saying:  Send agentsto scout the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people; send one participant from each of their ancestral tribes, each one a chieftain among them

Rashi Says on the spot: “Those (רשעים) wicked people saw what happened to Miriam for speaking Lashon Hara, and did not learn from it….” (Lashon Hara: לשון הרע: “evil tongue”).

However, just two Pesukim further in the Parsha  Rashi seems to retract his own words, and says : “At that time, they (the Meraglim) were righteous (כשרים – kosher). 

So, are they רשעים or כשרים, Wicked or Righteous? 

Let us try and go to the physical world.  In today’s medical advanced scene, we know about some conditions which develop deep in the person’s bone marrow system, – leaving the “patient” totally asymptomatic, sometimes for many years. If however, for any reason, this person would undergo a bone marrow test – the disease would be discovered. (This sometimes would be a life saver).

Now – back to RashI

The first Rashi states that for the Meraglim – to have witnessed the “Miriam affair” and not to learn from it to be extremely careful about one’s Lashon Hara, – was an (early) sign of wickedness. Their behaviour at the time however – was still kosher, כשר.  Would have the Meraglim noticed at the time – the “slight” degeneration of their characteristics – 40 years in the desert might have been prevented….

The weekly Parsha is not read for purely historic reasons. Rather in order for us to “take home” a moral point. I feel that reading this week’s Parsha, we are well advised to take a constant look into our deep selves – and double check whether a small “Pocket of wickedness” is not trying to establish a stronghold within us. 

And if we do discover it early – it is totally curable.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld