War? What For?

July 15, 2018 at 11:42 PM , ,

“…Come and possess the land that G-d swore to your forefathers, to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaacov, to give them and their descendants after them…” – Devarim 1:8

בֹּאוּ וּרְשׁוּ אֶת הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע ה’ לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לָתֵת לָהֶם וּלְזַרְעָם אַחֲרֵיהֶם – דברים א, ח

Moshe recounted to Bnei Yisrael that, if not for the episode of the Spies, G-d would have brought them into the Land of Israel thirty-nine years earlier. Moreover, G-d had assured them at that time that their conquest of the Land would be swift and uncontested: “See, I have given the land before you; Come and possess the land that G-d promised to your forefathers.” In the words of Rashi, this means: “No one will contest the matter, and you will not need to go to war; if they had not sent spies, they would not have needed weapons.”


A careful reading of Rashi shows that at first he states that G-d was ready to bring Bnei Yisrael into the Land of Israel without war, but then he concludes saying that they would not have needed weapons. Evidently, Rashi’s conclusion is not a reiteration of the fact that the nations would not oppose Bnei Yisrael’s conquest of the Land, but a description of the particularly extraordinary manner in which this would take place—without a need for weapons. This means that not only would the nations living in the Land leave on their own without a fight, they would do so without Bnei Yisrael even displaying any military might. The usual tactics of intimidation would not be necessary, for G-d would miraculously cause the nations to miraculously flee on their own.

Rashi adds, however, that Bnei Yisrael would have merited this miracle only “if they had not sent spies”—at all, but not if they had merely rejected the spies’ report about the dangers of entering the Land of Israel. The very sending of spies demonstrated that Bnei Yisrael believed that it was necessary to strategize how to conquer the land through military force. This indicated that Bnei Yisrael lacked conviction in G-d’s promise that He would deliver the Land into their hands without any natural effort on their part. Consequently, they lost the opportunity for G-d to miraculously cause the inhabitants of the land to flee without even the threat of war.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 34, pp. 7-8


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