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Shabbat Parashat Shelach 5771

Parashat Hashavuah: Spies and Their Helpers

Harav Yosef Carmel

Certainly the sins of the spies that Moshe sent capture the main attention in this week’s parasha, prompting the haftara to dwell on spies, who were, baruch Hashem, more successful (see Yehoshua 2). The two righteous men sent to Yericho were discovered by the local sentries but were saved by Rachav, a local woman, who covered them with stalks on her rooftop, allowing them to escape to safety. In addition to the navi’s account that she and her family were spared during the Israelite conquest, Chazal tell us that she merited marrying Yehoshua and that from their offspring came the prophet, Yirmiyahu (Sifrei, B’ha’alotcha 78).

Let us deal with a lesser known story of spies, which shares an interesting parallel to that of Yehoshua’s spies. When Avshalom’s rebellion broke out, David took a strategic step. He decided not to fight for his throne within Yerushalayim, which would cause the city to be harmed at Avshalom’s hands. He explained his decision, saying that if Hashem wanted him, he would return to his beloved city, and if Hashem did not want David to continue, let Hashem do to him as He sees fit (Shmuel II, 15:25-26).

However, David, while accepting Hashem as the decider of his fate, did his fair share of hishtadlut (human efforts to bring success). He left a whole infrastructure of agents and gave out different roles to loyal friends and servants. Chushai Ha’archi was to win Avshalom’s confidence and undo Achitofel’s plot against David. He was to use Tzadok and Evyatar, the Kohanim, to pass information to David through their sons, Achima’atz and Yehonatan (ibid. 34-36).

Everything was working according to David’s plan until Avshalom’s officers discovered the aforementioned Kohanim passing information between them and trying to bring it to David’s camp, near Yericho. A chase developed, and Achima’atz and Yehonatan went to hide in the house of a man from Bachurim. His wife told them to hide in a well, which she covered, and, in a manner reminiscent of Rachav, told the pursuers that they had returned to Yerushalayim (ibid. 17: 18-20).

Who was this man from Bachurim, whose wife saved David’s helpers and through them, helped David? The midrash tells us that it was none other than Shimi ben Geira, the man from Shaul’s family who came out toward the retreating David and cursed him so harshly. This finds support in that the navi (ibid. 16:5) calls him, “the man from Bachurim.”

When did this woman receive her reward? Megillat Esther introduces Mordechai (and thus, his cousin Esther as well) as a descendant of Shimi from the tribe of Binyamin. Indeed, this couple from Bachurim, merited to be the antecedents of the hero and heroin who saved the Jewish Nation hundreds of years later. This was deserved due to the righteous woman’s efforts to preserve the kingdom of David, who could have been her bitter rival.

May the merit of our righteous matriarchs help us remain in good stead in present and future generations.

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