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Shabbat Parashat Shelach| 5765

Finding Unappreciated Treasures

 Sometimes a person gets what turns out to be a “booby prize.” Calev, the hero of our parasha, seems to be a case in point. Calev went with the meraglim (spies) through southern Israel but went alone to Chevron (Hebron). There, he prayed by our forefathers’ graves that he should not be involved in his counterparts’ plot (Sota 34b). Because of his righteousness, he received a special portion of land, Chevron (Devarim 1:36; Shoftim 1:20). But what do Chazal say about Chevron? It was the rockiest, least desirable place in Eretz Yisrael (Ketubot 112b). So why did Calev get “stuck” with it?
 Let us ask another “heretical” question. Could it be that Calev really went alone to Chevron? After all, he avoided things that would reveal his opposition to the meraglim until the last minute. There is room to suggest that the Torah and Chazal are hinting at something else. All of the meraglim came to Chevron, physically. But they experienced different things. The sinners saw fearful giants, who were reasons to refuse to enter the land. Calev, upon seeing physical giants walking on the land, turned his attention to the spiritual giants who were buried in the land. Rashi (Bereishit 23:2) tells us that Chevron was called Kiryat Arba (the City of Four) either after the four giants who lived there or the four couples who are buried there. It is not a contradiction, as both facts are true. But some people are sensitive to the significance of one fact while the other fact impresses others. Calev realized that it was due to the virtue of those buried in Chevron that Bnei Yisrael had been promised the Land and would be successful in capturing it despite the Land’s topography and the size of its inhabitants.
 Perhaps Calev’s name hints at this capacity to perceive what is happening underground. The name, without vowels, can be read as kelev (dog). Whose nature is it to sniff out that which is covered up or under ground? The dog (see Pesachim 8a). While dogs search for things that smell, Calev searched … and found … encouragement and spiritual inspiration.
 Now we can understand why Calev got the piece of land that he did. Others may not have been happy with a present of Chevron. There are obstacles there, whether they are ancient giants, rocky terrain, or the troubles we are experiencing in our times. But for people like Calev, who have a ruach acheret (Bamidbar 14:24), a different type of spirit, which enables them to appreciate that which others cannot, such a present can be fully appreciated and cherished.
 The world is full of what some consider obstacles and others consider challenges. May we merit to use the sensitivity we received from “those who slumber in Chevron” to identify those goals which deserve our efforts to achieve and to have the courage to take on the worthwhile challenges and turn them into priceless, realized opportunities.
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.,
Yitzchak Eliezer Ben Avraham Mordechai Jacobson o.b.m.

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