Wednesday, June 29, 2022

In this week’s parsha, Sh’lach, we read about the Meraglim, the spies that were sent by Moshe to check out the land of Israel. These spies lacked faith in Hashem and were very negative in their expectations. We see in the Haftorah that when spies were sent the second time by Yehoshua, they had a very different, more positive attitude and were, indeed, successful.

The Baal Shem Tov makes a point on a pasuk in the parsha. The spies were instructed: “You shall strengthen yourself (‘v’his-chazaktem’) and take from the fruits of the Land.” On a simple level, the reason the pasuk calls for “strengthening” regarding taking from the fruits of the Land is because the fruits were apparently very heavy. They weighed so much because of their lushness that it took several people to carry a single cluster of grapes. In fact, that is the logo of today’s Israeli Ministry of Tourism.

However, the Baal Shem Tov provides a Chasidic insight to the same pasuk. The Baal Shem Tov states that it was necessary for the scouts to strengthen themselves by taking the appropriate lesson from the fruits of the Land. It was necessary to look at the fruit and ask themselves how fruit came about in the world. Seeing a fruit and being able to recite a bracha and eat that fruit should be viewed as the end of a very long and hard path.

The path started with a farmer who tilled his land many months ago and waited until the soil was dry enough. Then, it rained and the soil became muddy and he couldn’t till it again for a while. Finally, he was able to take seeds and throw them into the ground. The seeds had to first germinate and then decompose. The farmer waited, not knowing what was going to happen with these seeds. Were they good seeds? Would they take to the land or would they not be compatible with the soil? Finally, the seeds began to sprout. The farmer had to fight the different conditions of nature. He had to water and fertilize the trees. He had to prune them. He had to worry about the different weather conditions. After months and months of worry and toil and sweat and tears, a fruit finally emerged. Seeing a fruit on the shelf at the supermarket, one may not realize how much effort was put into place before it arrived at its delicious final product.

The Baal Shem Tov explains that the meaning of “And you shall strengthen yourselves and take (u’lekachtem) from the fruit of the Land...” is that we must take a lesson from this fruit. Study the fruit and learn a lesson for life. Life is like a fruit. There are so many endeavors in life where we invest worry and toil and sweat and tears. We sometimes question: “Is it really worth all the effort we put into it?” But we know that the only way we will ever be able to reap the fruits is if we go through the entire process. We should learn a life lesson from how a fruit grows. This requires strength (v’his-chazaktem). Consequently, the Torah tells us to gird ourselves — and only then, can we take the lesson from the fruit of the Land.

While we may not really want to think of ourselves as a fruit; maybe we can see life as the Baal Shem Tov did — that it is a long and, sometimes, difficult process. Completing our education and the preparation for life has taken us many long years. Having a good marriage and raising a family is also a process that takes much effort and may take a while before we see the desired results.

Maintaining our health is a continued process that takes place over many years. However, we must have faith that the result of our efforts will bear delicious fruit.

May Hashem bless us so that we enjoy the long-awaited fruits of our efforts. Although we may not see the results of these efforts at first, we must never hesitate to put in the required effort and work that will ultimately payoff.

Rabbi Dr. Avi Kuperberg is a forensic, clinical psychologist and a member of the American Psychology-Law Society. He is acting president of the Chai Riders Motorcycle Club of NY/NJ. He is the coordinator of Bikur Cholim/Chesed at Congregation Torah Ohr in Boca Raton, Florida. He can be reached at: [email protected]

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