Topic: Personal Transformation | Posted:June 11, 2014
In the portion of Shlach Lecha the Creator tells Moses to send twelve people to enter into Israel and come back with a report; we know it as the story of the spies. Out of the twelve, only two maintained their consciousness and spiritual level – Joshua and Caleb. They came back with the desire to lead the Israelites into the land of Israel, while the other ten spies came back and said, “It’s a terrible place. If we go there, we're going to be killed. We shouldn’t enter.” Many of the Israelites believed them, and therefore did not want to enter. This is called the falling of the spies, and because of it, the entire generation did not merit entering into the land of Israel.
That’s the story all of us know. But on a deeper level, the kabbalists teach that the actions of the spies on this Shabbat are similar to what happened at the fall of Adam and Eve. It says in the book of Beresheet that it was the snake who convinced Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge - Good and Evil. We know that the first time humanity fell was when Eve led Adam to taste and eat from that tree. But with a new understanding, we’ll see that Adam and Eve didn’t really fall. And really, neither did the spies. In fact, both Adam and Eve and the spies did something very positive, something that we all need to aspire to.
To understand this, first we want to understand what it was that caused what is known as the sin of Adam, the eating of the Tree of Knowledge - Good and Evil. When we understand the cause of it and the real consciousness behind it, we’ll be able to understand the consciousness that was behind the work of the spies.
It says in the Midrash, in Beresheet, “Rabbi Yehuda, the son of Simon, says that the snake came to Eve, and said to her this: ‘In the process of creation, whatever is created next— the newest creation— rules over the previous creation. Whatever is created first is ruled over by what’s created second. Whatever was created second is ruled over by what was created third, and so on and so forth. In the process of creation, the later and latest creation rules overall and controls all that comes before it.’”
The snake here is proving to Eve that everything that is created last controls and takes from what was created previously. He is telling her that she and Adam are the last creation, and as such, their purpose at this point is to be able to control, to rule, everything that’s come before them, but that if they don’t do something to cement their position, the Creator will create new creations after them who will be more perfected than they are.
The snake tells Eve that if she and Adam don’t grab the opportunity now and eat from the Tree of Knowledge - Good and Evil, which represents the purpose of our own personal work and the work for humanity to separate good from negativity and take Light out of the darkness, then more perfected worlds and people will come after them to do the work. It says that Eve saw that the snake had a good argument. His teachings were right, and therefore she chose for herself and her husband Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge -Good and Evil.
So, we understand, it was not so much the fall of Adam and Eve, but rather the choice of Adam and Eve. Their choice was to grab the responsibility now. And when Adam and Eve were looking at these two options, they knew that if they chose it now, it would be a path of difficulty. The kabbalists use this example - if you have a fruit on a tree, and it’s not ripe yet, it’s much more difficult to take the peel, the klipa, off the fruit. If you let it stay on the tree for a few more days or a few more weeks and it ripens, then the peel comes right off… which is also true spiritually. If you grab the work early, it's more difficult to remove the darkness.
If we grab the fruit early it means that we're not going to wait to let somebody else do the work. It means we want to be the ones, we want the Creator to use us to be the conduits for this work, and we know the work is going to be difficult and that it’s going to be a long path for us. Or, the other option is to say we’ll do it later. We’ll wait for the fruit to ripen, and other people will come after us, more perfected than we are, and the work will be easier for them and they could do it. But Eve chose the first option.
It's an amazing and beautiful way to view the choice of Adam and Eve. Of course, there’s good and bad that came with making that choice. One is that they are now the ones the Creator will use to assist, to do the work. There aren't going to be any more creations that come after this that are going to replace them in the work. But the other side of it is that they accepted upon themselves the difficult work that they will have to go through.
And now we can understand the secret of the choice that the spies made.
The spies knew before they went into the land of Israel that they had two choices: they could live comfortably, or they could grab the work like Adam and Eve did, which meant that they wouldn’t enter into the land of Israel right away. It meant that they would have to walk in the desert for 40 years.
The kabbalists teach that the Israelites and Moses knew even before the twelve spies were sent that the generation at that time was not entering into the land of Israel. The work had not been done yet. And so the process of the spies going into the land of Israel was of them grabbing the work for themselves, which meant that they made the decision to go through difficulties and challenges for the next 40 years so that the world will ultimately be able to receive the blessings of their work.
We know now that by deciding to go into the land of Israel, the process was therefore not so much to see if the land was good, but rather, to accept their 40 days in the land of Israel and keep doing the work. What a beautiful way to view the work of the spies; they did not, in a true sense, fall, but rather they made a choice to do the difficult work for 40 years in order to be the conduits of the Light of the Creator in this world. Although they did not physically enter that land, they spiritually took control over all that Light; and therefore, all the Light that every person of every generation that comes after them receives through prayer and connection goes through them.