... those men who gave the unfavorable report about the land died by the plague in the presence of Adonai.
(Num 14:37 CJB)
"We are given two eyes; one is very powerful for introspection, so that we can find even or smallest faults; the other is very weak, for viewing others.
Unfortunately, we often switch their functions."
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It is noticeable that our section this week concerning the spies' evil report is next to the one concerning Miriam speaking evil against Moses. The people should have learned from Miriam's lesson, but they didn't. As Miriam was punished for giving an evil report about her divinely appointed little brother, the spies were punished for giving an evil report about the piece of Land they were to inherit by divine appointment.
The Talmud also teaches, 'If those people who spoke against wood and stones received harsh retribution, how much more retribution is deserved by someone who slanders his fellow man! (Erchin 15a).The ideas being that,
'One who finds fault in things (e.g., meals, accommodations, etc.) will also find fault in other people; conversely, one who sees the good in things will see the good in his fellow man.'
Thus, the lesson the spies should have learned was to notice virtues rather than faults.
Here is a true story called, The Other Side of the Prayerbook to illustrate the point. It is a story published by, Yerachmiel Tilles but told by Simon Wiesenthal, the famous Nazi-hunter when he spoke at a conference of European rabbis in Bratislava, Slovakia. The rabbis presented the 91-year-old Wiesenthal with an award, and he, visibly moved, told them the following story.
"It was in Mauthausen, shortly after liberation. The camp was visited by Rabbi Eliezer Silver, head of Agudat Harabbanim (Union of Orthodox Rabbis of North America), on a mission to offer aid and comfort to the survivors. Rabbi Silver also organized a special service, and he invited Wiesenthal to join the other survivors in prayer. Wiesenthal declined, and explained why."
"In the camp," Wiesenthal said to Rabbi Silver, "there was one religious man who somehow managed to smuggle in a siddur (a Jewish prayerbook). At first, I greatly admired the man for his courage-that he'd risked his life in order to bring the siddur in. But the next day I realized, to my horror, that this man was 'renting out' this siddur to people in exchange for food. People were giving him their last piece of bread for a few minutes with the prayerbook. This man, who was very thin and emaciated when the whole thing started, was soon eating so much that he died before everyone else-his system couldn't handle it."
He continued: "If this is how religious Jews behave, I'm not going to have anything to do with a prayerbook."
As Wiesenthal turned to walk away, Rabbi Silver touched him on the shoulder and gently said in Yiddish, "Du dummer (you silly man). Why do you look at the Jew who used his siddur to take food out of starving people's mouths? Why don't you look at the many Jews who gave up their last piece of bread in order to be able to use a siddur? That's faith. That's the true power of the siddur." Rabbi Silver then embraced him.
"I went to the services the next day," said Wiesenthal.
MORE ABOUT THE EVIL OF EVIL REPORTS.
The sages of Israel have a different twist than what is regularly taught for the events between Ham and his father. They teach that the sin of Ham was nothing more than publicly shaming his father by giving his two brothers an evil report about their father (Gen 9:22). The two other brothers had more respect for their father as instead of gawking at their father, walking backward, they 'covered; his compromising situation' (Gen 9:23). In this situation, we see a perfect example of,
He who conceals an offense promotes love, but he who harps on it can separate even close friends. (Pro 17:9 CJB).
King Solomon had in fact more to say about the evils of an 'evil-tongue' than about anything else.
NOTE: According to these standards, how could any true faithful disciple be involved in the type of politics which nowadays revolves around exposing others and putting them in a bad light in order to make ourselves look better. Even enemies do not deserve what these people say against each other. They need to remember Yeshua's injunction about discipleship and belonging to His Kingdom, "
But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Then you will become children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun shine on good and bad people alike, and he sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. (Mat 5:44-45 CJB).
If the Master hadn't done that towards us in the Name of His Father who
"... so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. (Joh 3:16 CJB)
...we would be in trouble!
Our Master had much to say against slander and negativity. He taught His disciples,
... that whoever calls his brother, 'You good-for-nothing!' will be brought before the Sanhedrin; that whoever says, 'Fool!' incurs the penalty of burning in the fire of Gei-Hinnom! (Mat 5:22 CJB)
When Miriam of Magdala came to Him, the Master didn't see the bad woman, but the lost soul. When Zaccheus called on Him, the Master didn't see the thieving Roman collaborator, but the seeking man. Likewise, He didn't see the 'doubting' in Thomas, but the exceptional disciple who gave his life for His Master in India. He also did not see the sinner in you or me, but the lost soul seeking for its Maker (and we can be thankful for that). I heard it said once at a writer's conference that we need to stop seeing people as 'wrong', but start seeing them as 'lost'.
May we therefore learn to see the Light of God in each person that we meet, in each situation that we face, in each judgment that we have to call. Our world will be then like,
"... the path of the righteous [which] is like the light of dawn, shining ever brighter until full daylight.
(Pro 4:18 CJB)