The Haftorah of Parashah Shelach mentions the sending of spies to Yericho by Yehoshua, Moses disciple,  which echoes in some way the main theme of Parashah Shelach in which Moses sends twelve spies to scout the Land of Israel in preparation to its conquest. This mission was a complete failure, as we know, the spies came with a bad report and instilled in the Jewish people a tremendous fear and a lack of faith. They didn’t believe that G-d would help them win the war against the Nation of Canaan, therefore they cried in desperation. Since they cried for no reason, G-d told them that that day, the 9th of Av, throughout the future generations they would have a reason to cry.  The entire Jewish people between the ages of 20 and 60 were destined to die in the following 40 years and not enter the Land of Israel. A complete change of generation and mentality had to come in order for the Jewish people to be able to settle down in the Eretz Israel.


The verse states, “Vayishlach Yehoshua Min Hashitim Shnayim Anashim Meraglim Cheresh Leimor Lechu Ureu Es Haaretz Vies Yericho ” (And Yehoshua sent two people to spy the land and the city of Yericho). We would think that such a spy mission would never again be repeated in our history, due to the lessons learned from the previous one, nevertheless, forty years later Moses pupil, previous spy, and successor, Yehoshua, decides to send  Pinchas and Caleb into Yericho before conquering the Land of Israel. This matter seems puzzling as why the most trusted pupil of Moses would repeat such a fiasco, which he himself witnessed in his time.

So one must conclude that Yehoshua had to have been commanded by G-d to send these spies, as he would never have repeated the same mistake. Nevertheless, it requires explanation as  why this time G-d agreed to send the spies, while in Moses times He left it to Moses discretion.

Another question worth asking is why were these two spies sent only to Yericho, when there were many more cities that required conquering?


Yericho was considered to be the “lock” of Eretz Yisroel, and the people who lived there came from all the seven nations. In a physical sense, the conquering of Yericho represented the fortified might of the nations. Conquering them was a blow to their morale. However, on  a spiritual plane, we must understand that every Jewish soul contains aspects of Eretz Yisroel, including the city of Yericho.


The Rebbe explains that Yericho would be the only city to require spies because the command to conquer the Land of Israel is eternal in every generation in spiritual terms. Chapter 9 of the Tanya describes the constant battle of the animal and G-dly souls in the body and its limbs as similar to the battle of two kings over a city, each one desiring to conquer it. Likewise, the giving of Israel to the Jewish people is a spiritual constant occurrence. The conquering of the Nation of Canaan and the naming of Eretz Yisroel represents every Jew’s mission to conquer every aspect and power of the animal soul (Eretz Canaan) and transform it into a vessel for

G-dliness (Eretz Yisroel). Sending spies and conquering Yericho, on the other hand, must have a different and practical directive for us in our service of G-d.


The verse states: “Ve’Avraham Zaken Ba Bayamim” (And Avraham was old and fulfilled in days). The Zohar explains that Avraham was garbed by the “days.” “Days” represent the garments of the soul (thought, speech, and action). Every soul is allotted a certain amount of days in this world in accordance with the amount of “soul garments” he requires to fulfill his mission in this world. These garments are created through the Torah and Mitzvot a person fulfills every day. Every day that a person misses Torah learning or the fulfillment of Mitzvot it causes a loss of the soul garment that was required from that day. What remains to be understood is: What is the meaning of this garment? What would occur if the soul remains unclothed? And why was this matter written in the Torah?


In the morning prayers, every day we sanctify the name of G-d in the Kedusha when we say

“Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh .” The repetition of the word “Kadosh” three times represents the three forms of expression regarding the Torah: “Thought, Speech, and Action.” When we do a Mitzvah we must have the intention of exercising these three garments. Certain Mitzvahs are implemented by thought, others by speech, and others by action and all are equally important to H”S. The Jewish people who are called “Goy Echad Baaretz” (Fulfilling the Will of G-d), say “Kadosh” three times to be able to draw down G-dliness into all of these three levels of service.


In order for the soul to be able to benefit from the ray of the Shechina and be incorporated within the unity of H”S, proper Levushim (garments) are required. When a person has the proper thoughts, the proper speech, and the proper actions, he clothes his soul from head to toe. This is further explained by the verse: “And the soul of my Master was bound to the rock of life.” Because of the Torah study and the Mitzvahs a person performs, his soul is bounded with G-d.


This teaching gives us an incredible insight on the power we all have if used for the good. A single thought of holiness can create a Levush (garment) for the Neshama!! One should contemplate in this matter and be cognizant of its outcome while having thoughts of holiness.

One must also be aware that all he does is “Leshem Shamaim” (for the sake of heaven), one’s sole intention should be to unite his soul with the Oneness of G-d and not to seek reward.

If this is true with a holy thought, one must also be aware of the great damage an evil thought possesses and how it creates a soiled and dirty garment for the soul. Jewish religion takes great care about our thoughts, even though a thought stays in the mind and can never materialize, nevertheless this thoughts become garments of the soul which cover it from head to toe and don’t allow the person to connect to the Oneness of H”S. So it is of outmost importance that one guards his mind with his life and consider forbidden thoughts to be like the most severe form of idol worship, which prevents one from connecting and attaching to G-d.


So now we can understand that the spies that Yehoshua sent into Yericho, went to spy on the garments of the soul and determine how to best conquer them. The spies of Moshe, on the other hand, were sent to spy on the soul itself and discover where one is holding regarding his love and fear for G-d. This supreme level of love and fear of the animal soul cannot be demanded of every person, and therefore it was presented to Moshe as optional. Likewise, only Moshe had the ability to send spies to conquer the animal souls emotions. However, when it comes to conquering the Levushim (garments of the soul), it is not only possible but obligatory and thus it is demanded of every person.


In light of all these explanation we can come to understand one more thing. Yehoshua sent spies only to Yericho which comes from the word “Reiach”, meaning “smell.” Just as the sense of smell is external, such are the garments of thought, speech, and action are external, for one can always change them. However the entire Land of Israel, which was once called Eretz Canaan, refers to the middos (character traits) of love and fear. Since Yehoshua knew that the Jewish people as a whole only have the ability to conquer the Levushim, he sent the spies to Yericho. But Moshe, on the other hand, who desired to have his generation conquer the emotional attributes, sent the spies to scout the entire Land of Israel.



Taken From: Torah Or-Likkutei Torah (Parashah Shelach p.102)

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