Parashios Behaalosecha and Shelach

This week, the Torah reading is parashas Shelach in Eretz Yisrael and parashas Behaalosecha outside of Eretz Yisrael. Here I discuss an idea that relates to both parashios.
We know that everything we receive is from Hashem, but Hashem has set up a system in which we need to make some effort (hishtadlus) to obtain what He has designated for us. The proper degree of hishtadlus depends on various factors. Often people exert more effort than Hashem’s system requires. Expounding on the events of parashios Behaalosecha and Shelach, the Maggid describes two reasons for such behavior.
The first reason is a deficient degree of faith in Hashem. This fault is what led the Jewish People to want to send men to scout Eretz Yisrael. Sending scouts can be a legitimate step, as indeed it was for Yehoshua and Gideon. But for the generation of the wilderness, who had personally witnessed the great miracles Hashem did in Egypt, it was an excessive step. Given what they had seen, they should have been confident, without sending scouts, that Hashem would enable them to conquer the land.
The second reason is a desire for unnecessary pleasures and amenities. This fault is reflected in the episode in parashas Behaalosecha in which a segment of the Jewish People complained about the manna and pleaded for the delicacies they had enjoyed in Egypt: meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. The section of the Torah on this episode alludes to the fact that the wicked ones of the nation had to venture far from their tents to collect their portion of manna, while the righteous ones found their portion at their door. The Maggid elaborates on this system of dispensation. He explains that the wicked were driven by a desire for gratification, as reflected in their eventual demand for delicacies. This desire led them to excessive hishtadlus: They ventured far from their tents in order to gather extra manna, beyond the amount needed for their sustenance. Hashem punished them by forcing them to venture out just to receive their alloted portion.
Our hishtadlus should be measured: A certain amount of normal effort is necessary, but we must not allow anxiety or desire to lead us to excessive exertion.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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