Parshas Shlach
Numbers 13:1 -15:41

Preparing To Avoid Disappointment ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. James W. Belk, may he rest in peace.

We wish to thank those who shared in the Mitzvah of during our first year on the internet... "MAY HASHEM BLESS YOU FOR SHARING IN OUR VISION AND SHARING IN OUR EXPENSES!" - Akiva and Staff

The Story On Surviving Disappointment
Many years ago when my parents were in their seventies, they were traveling by car from Colorado to visit relatives in Illinois. This trip was a custom for them every few years. As they became older my brothers and I became increasingly concerned. We wanted to drive them but they refused. We wanted to buy them airline tickets but they refused. Eventually our parents agreed to spread their trip out over a longer period, drive shorter distances, give us their itinerary, call us at each stop along the way, etc. This was the best we could do.

Several days into their trip, late in the afternoon our phone rings. I thought it was Momma calling. Upon answering the phone the individual on the other end inquires, "Is this the Belk residence?"

I respond, "Yes!"

The lady identified herself as Edna Brown, the daughter of my father's brother who lived in Illinois. My parents were en route to visit them. My brothers and I scarcely knew Edna or her family. She was twenty years older than us. She was already married and raising children before our first introduction. Our families were a great distance apart both in miles and communication. We rarely spoke by phone. We were not close.

After the brief introduction Edna inquired, " Are your parents on their way to visit us?"

Again I responded, "Yes!"

She continued, "Do you know where they're staying?"

I said, "Yes! Is something wrong?" She began crying, then sobbing as she spoke, "My father passed away at two o'clock this morning from a heart attack. I have been trying for hours to reach you."

This was very bad news! I expressed condolences. We talked for a little while. My uncle was 82, may he rest in peace. He was a good man!

After hanging up I called the hotel where my parents were scheduled to spend the evening. They had not arrived. The clerk took a message. He would have them phone after they checked in. Next I phoned my brothers with the tragic news. They were distraught at the death of our uncle and at how our father would take this news. Daddy was looking forward to spending time with his older brother so much. It was all he talked about for weeks leading up to the trip. Now I would have the unfortunate responsibility of informing him of his only brother's death.

Soon the phone rang. It was Momma, may she rest in peace. She was cheerful as always. She spoke of how nice their trip was and how they were enjoying everything. After a little while Momma inquired something to the effect, "How's everyone in Colorado doing?" I responded, "Fine, but there is some bad news."

Momma responded, "Oooh. What's the matter?"

The serious tone in Momma's voice caught Daddy's attention. I could hear him say in the background, "Honey, what's wrong?"

She said, "Be quiet! I'm trying to find out."

I softly said, "Momma, please sit down. We have to be strong for Daddy. Edna phoned. Uncle Jim passed away this morning."
Momma handed the phone to Daddy as she kindly said in the background, "Honey, it's your brother."

Daddy spoke up, "Son, what's the matter?"

I said, "Dad, please sit down. I have some bad news."

Daddy said, "O.K., son, I'm sitting down. What's wrong?"

I said, "Daddy, your brother passed away this morning. I'm so sorry!" The phone dropped. It fell to the floor! In the background I heard Daddy crying. His only words were, "Oooh Oooh! Oooh!" as he wept.

He and Momma were in an out-of-the-way place. It was not near an airport. They were about three hundred miles from their destination. They immediately continued on their journey now to attend the funeral of my father's brother.

Dear readers, we {Kal Yisroel} were on the edge of the Promised Land when we heard the bad news. We were preparing to enter our new home when the tragedy struck!

Holy reader, for over a year and four months we had been talking, making plans, excitedly looking forward to the time that we would enter Eretz Canaan. Parshas Beha'aloscha {Numbers 9:1} states that we were in our "second year of {our} exodus from the land of Egypt..." The Midrash states that it was on 29 Sivan {July 3rd this year} in the year 2449 that the twelve spies, the highly respected leaders of Kal Yisroel, were dispatched to Eretz Canaan. They returned on the eve of the Ninth of Av {August 11th this year} which was the fortieth day.

After our spies returned and spoke to us, it appeared that our hopes of living in our own homeland, of being a people with our own country were dashed. What were we to do? We were faced with a decision. Were we to believe the good reports of Caleiv and Hosheiah over the reports of the other ten very respected leaders {Shamua, Shafat, Yigal, Palti, Gadiel, Gadi, Amiel, Sesur, Nachbi and
Geu' el}? What were we to do?

We were faced with a very serious dilemma. The Midrash discusses our dilemma.

First, ten of our leaders felt threatened. They reasoned, "Under Moshe's leadership we are heads of the people. As soon as we enter Eretz Yisroel, Yehoshua will become the leader. He will then appoint a different cabinet of ministers. Let us therefore detain the people in the wilderness to ensure that we shall not be demoted from our high positions." {Zohar}

Holy readers, these men were tzaddikim at the time of their appointment. They were righteous. Yet in short order they became corrupt. They changed. Their program got in the way of what was best for Kal Yisroel. HOW OFTEN HAS THIS HAPPENED IN OUR HISTORY?? Their institution was more important than what was best for Kal Yisroel. Their individual goals took precedence over the interests of Kal Yisroel. They felt threatened. Their positions of leadership were at stake. These men were unreasonable! They were selfish! They deliberately misled Kal Yisroel. HOW MANY TIMES HAS THIS HAPPENED?

Holy reader, each of us needs to make a careful examination of the programs we support. We need to be very cautious of those whom we lift high as tzaddikim! We must constantly be on guard NOT to place our trust in men who are corrupted with their own selfish programs and interests over the good of all Jews!

Every leader must be especially careful during the next nine weeks. It is a time when leadership faces trials of great selfishness!

Second, we as Kal Yisroel must examine our own hearts. It was us as a people that expressed distrust in the Most Holy, G-d forbid! It was us who in the back of our minds questioned, "Is Eretz Canaan as good as Hashem has described it to us?" Kal Yisroel questioned, "We have not seen Eretz Canaan. Is it worth fighting over?" Our doubts and our distrust of Hashem's word, of Hashem's promises brought us to a major fall!

Since our own hearts were impure, we set the stage for our corrupt leaders to deceive us. Our faults are exposed! The faults of our leaders are exposed!

It is at this time of year every Jew faces trials that test our belief in what G-d has said. It is at this time of year that our Yetzer Raw raises up, G-d forbid! We, Kal Yisroel, are challenged to completely trust, to completely believe in Hashem! Every Jew both then and now had / has to reassert their total dependence on Hashem's word because it was at this time of year that we doubted and distrusted Hashem!

Third, we must learn now to look for the truth and how to openly receive the truth. If, G-d forbid, we have prepared our hearts to receive a lie then we like Kal Yisroel in 2449 will not be able to receive the truth even when it is presented to us, even when it stares us in the face. Caleiv and Hosheiah presented the truth then and other men like them will present the truth now. How will we know what is truth and how will we know what is a self serving lie?

Simply put, we must examine everything in the light of what the Torah says. Our Torah is the record of Hashem's promise to Kal Yisroel! The Torah is the standard by which every leader's words must be examined!

It is very important to lift up the names of our leadership and of Kal Yisroel in the Amidah especially the next nine weeks {until the day after the Ninth of Av}. We do not want to be making preparations that we will not be able to keep!

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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