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Shabbat Parashat Eikev 5773

Parashat Hashavua: Giants and their Sons But of What?

Harav Yosef Carmel

As in a few other parshiyot (most recently, Devarim), Parashat Eikev stresses, on the eve of the entry into Eretz Yisrael, the existence of giants in the Land. Yet before the entry and the turning of the Land of C’na’an into the Land of Israel, the giants were destroyed. Let us clarify the process somewhat and understand its significance.

“Listen Israel, today you are crossing the Jordan, to come to conquer nations that are greater and more powerful than you … a great and lofty nation, the sons of giants, which you knew and you heard: ‘Who can stand before the sons of giants’” (Devarim 9:1-2). The giants are also mentioned in connection to the inhabitants of the areas captured east of the Jordan (Devarim 2:20-21). The sinful spies also focused their fears on these sons of giants, whom they saw when scouting out the Land (ibid. 1:27-28).

In the past, we have discussed that Nimrod and his cohorts destroyed the giants when they were passing through the region in their momentous wars, before Avraham smote those four kings, with Nimrod being killed and Kedarlaomer taking his place. We see, then, that the four kings were not merely serving themselves but were actually making things easier in the future for the offspring of Avraham. That is why, by the time Bnei Yisrael came to the region, there were only sons of giants. (Og remained and was killed by Moshe, and there were still some nefillim, who were apparently also formidable. Of course, even later, David would have to deal with a Philistine giant named Goliat.)

There is evidence that, at the time the spies came to the Land, there was a plague that affected primarily the nefillim. They should have seen this as a great favor and a wonderful omen for Bnei Yisrael, and their failure to do so makes their sin all the more grievous. We can also add that the special nature of the Land caused many things to be oversized: people and fruit.

The phenomenon of giants in the Land was not intended to disappear when Bnei Yisrael entered the Land. It was only supposed to change. Instead of having physical giants, Eretz Yisrael was to be full of giants of unusual proportion – in the spiritual realm. Giants of the mind and especially of the spirit: “men of dimension” who were to take the nation to new heights in their pursuit of a life in the heavens. The patriarchs were such people, as were the prophets, as were the leading Torah scholars in every generation. “There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael.”

We pray that we will merit to raise “men of middot [dimensions and good character],” outstanding in Torah – people who, despite having their legs firmly set on the ground, have their heads reaching the heavens. 


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