Golden Minutes

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Golden Minutes

Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita

The story goes that in a small shtieble somewhere in Poland, back in the day, every year when they would read Parshas Sh’lach there would be a great tumult. In attendance each Shabbos was a particularly devote elderly woman, who followed the Torah reading assiduously. Every time it came to the depiction of the Jews sending spies into Canaan, she would break out in sobbing cries and could be heard crying: “Not again!! Every year we read this sorry episode and its consequences, and every year the Jews make the same mistake all over again!”

Obviously we all can share in a chortle over the poor woman’s dismay, however giggle at your own peril my friends, because she has a very pertinent point.

Yidden have lived thru all the Torah’s lessons, yet, we often have failed to learn what we should from them. No lesser a prophet than Sir Winston Churchill is quoted as saying: ‘Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’

Let’s try to discern a bit of what happened with those spies, and see if there are some lessons for our times. In truth, this episode is extremely difficult, and even just skimming the surface can be arduous.  The basic facts are well known. The Yidden in the Midbar sent spies to check out the land which was promised by Hashem for their eternal inheritance. There were representatives from each of the tribes that would be given land. Upon returning, all but two gave a severely negative report that sent a shudder thru the nation and left them seeking to overthrow Moshe and Aaron.

Rashi starts his commentary on this portion pointing out something very pointed.  “Why was the passage of the spies placed next to the passage of Miriam? For she was stricken over matters of speech, which she spoke against her brother, and these wicked ones saw what happened to her and did not take a lesson from her.”

These spies had witnessed what happened to Miriam, how she was inflicted with a plague because she had spoken Loshon Horah on Moshe. How was it possible then for them to blunder in the same way and speak evil against the land Hashem had promised us? Gitte Yidden explain that this mind set is indicative of behaviour in many of us. When a person doesn’t want to see the truth, nothing will help, he just won’t accept that his preconceived ideas are wrong. He will rather drive off the cliff of his own thinking into the web of deceit he has created. The spies doomed themselves because despite everything they saw and knew, their minds wouldn’t go further than the false wall of self-delusion that was driven by their self-interests. If this sounds vaguely familiar, just scan our history and weep.

Amidst all this comes a chink of hope. The Piltzer Rebbe Zt”l points out a Medrash that tells us that The Eibishter has kaveyuchle Hakoras Hatov, (a debt of gratitude) for Caleb ben Yefuneh for that which he stilled the people and exhorted them that they definitely could go up to Eretz Yisroel and conquer the land.

The Rebbe tells us that from here we have proof that if one is challenged and everything looks dismal, still, if for only a moment one catches his breath and realises that Hashem is with him, those few moments are counted in his favour. This is true, even if afterwards he falls down again, and never really regains his equilibrium. Caleb stood up and called out to the rowdy crowd that which was true, that Hashem is with them, and they have no reason to doubt. The calming effect may have lasted only moments, and soon everyone was back at fever pitch, a fever that only ended with their death in the Midbar. However, that slice of time, where they were hearing the truth, gave them what are called ‘goldener meniten’, golden moments, which are precious to The Eibishter, even if they slipped back again.

One may think that Caleb failed, that his words were lost. In truth though, The Rebono Shel Olam has Hakoras Hatov for every one of those moments.

We all face such challenging times, we get caught up in the winds of our feelings and doubts. The Rebbe’s words give us strength! Catch that slimmer of time, say a Kapitel of Tehillim, say Amen to a brocha, focus on your truth’s , let these moments become golden, and if, the storm catches you again, well you will not be alone, the golden minutes will be with you.