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"In the Long Run"

07/19/2018 04:42:20 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

It is interesting that our parashah this week is the first parashah of Sefer Devarim, the Book of Deuteronomy.  In fact, the Book's Hebrew name is derived from its first verse.  The Hebrew word "devarim" is usually translated to mean "words."  This fifth and final book of the Torah is Moshe's summary of all that has happened to B'Nei Yisrael, the Children of Israel, since he became their leader.  In one particular passage, Moshe recounts how, when B'Nei Yisrael asked Moshe to send out spies to assess the land that HaShem intended to bring them to, he concluded "And the matter was good in my eyes."  The result was that Moshe sent out spies from each tribe.  However, it must be noted that in the Talmud Bavli, the Babylonian Talmud, in Masekhet Sotah 34b, our Sages state that HaShem did not agree with Moshe.  Rabbi Yissocher Frand notes the difficulty of such a conclusion.  If it is really true that HaShem opposed the idea of sending out the spies, why did He not merely tell Moshe that it was not to be done?  Why did He allow B'Nei Yisrael to do something of which He did not approve?  Why did not Hashem just say "No!"  Well, as is usually the case when a Rabbi asks a question, the answer is provided by that very same person.

Rabbi Frand answers his own question by citing a comment made by the late Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Telz in Cleveland, Ohio.  Rabbi Mottel Katz noted that sometimes children wish to do something that their parents consider inappropriate.  More often than not what is the parents' reaction?  It used to be that they would "put their foot down" and forbid their children from doing what they wished to do.  I remember such reactions from my parents, especially my father.  When he said "No!", he meant "No!"  What did I do?  I stopped dead in my tracks and followed his dictum.  However, it turns out that sometimes this is not always the best reaction.  Sometimes we need to concede and give in to our children.  How do we know this to be true.  We know this because of the lesson learned from the episode of the spies as found in the Torah.

In the episode of the spies, HaShem understood that B'Nei Yisrael were not at all ready to accept H-s denial of their request.  He therefore conceded to their request and let them go their own way.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  In the case of our children,as long as there is no danger to their lives involved, there may be times that they may simply not be able to accept our total refusal at the moment.  And it is at such a time that it might be best for us to concede with the understanding that other opportunities will arise to bring our point across more effectively in order to bring about our desired results.

The major news event that took place this week has centered around "devarim," "words."  What was said?  What was not said?  What should have been said?  At what moment should it have been said?  At what moment should it have not been said?  The words that have been spoken have been spun and "respun" in ways that those speaking them each appear to be "right."  Sometimes, more often than we care to admit, even if the action taken is not right, it is better to be smart and concede to its performance.  Why?  Because, as HaShem taught us in the episode of the spies, it is better to be smart than to be right...for the greater good in the long run.

Shabbat Shalom!  

Tue, July 27 2021 18 Av 5781