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    In bad company – Sh’lach L’cha

    The return of the spies, by James Tissot

    The twelve spies – the fact-finding mission that Moses sent to check out the land of Canaan – came back with a majority pessimistic report, and a minority report that was sure the land was conquerable.

    The minority report was by Joshua and Caleb. But though colleagues in optimism, they were, as the sages did not fail to notice, quite different in approach.

    The Chafetz Chayyim lists three differences:
    1. Moses prayed for Joshua (Y’hoshua), previously called Hoshea, and said, HaShem yoshi’acha – a play on the name Y’hoshua – “May God deliver you from the counsel of the spies” (Num. 13:16 and Rashi).

    2. Caleb alone went to pray at Hebron, the burial place of the patriarchs (Rashi on Num. 13:22).

    3. Caleb alone is said to have had “another spirit within him” (Num. 14:24).

    The Chafetz Chayyim believes Moses suspected from the beginning that ten spies would, for their own reasons, argue that the land could not be conquered, a view that showed a lack of faith in God who had promised the land to the people.

    He also knew that there are two ways of dealing with wrong-minded movements, and Joshua and Caleb would each choose a different way.

    What are the two ways? You can either strongly and openly oppose their schemes and risk being victimised, or you can pretend to go along with them and work against them later once you seem to have their confidence.

    Joshua would choose the first way, but this would place him in danger and he needed protection.

    Caleb would follow the second path, but first needed a quiet visit to Hebron to strengthen his nerves and his resolve. He had “a different spirit” in that though outwardly he let the others think he was with them, inside he maintained his opposition and was waiting for the right moment to act.

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