Although the Jews within the land [J@TM: Israel] and the ones in the diaspora won't currently be on the same lectionary cycle, the diasporean ones get to benefit due to having read blogs and other Torah sites with parsha stuff a whole week ahead of time.
Therefore, I offer an interesting thought on Parashat "Shlach" -- what we read yesterday in Israel and what those of you in the Diaspora will be reading this coming shabbat.
Parashat Shlach starts with G-d commanding Moshe Rabbeinu to send 12 people to tour the land of Israel. And who were these people? They were the leaders of Israel -- each tribe sent a leader, a "Nasi." These leaders all saw the miracles of leaving Egypt and the revelation of G-d at Har Sinai when the Torah was given. They saw the daily miracles of the man/manna which fell daily from the sky to feed the people, the cloud pillar which lead the Jews through the desert, the traveling well, and many others.
So how could it be that they returned with such a negative report on the land of Israel? If G-d commanded them to go, how is it that 10 gave a negative and scary report, while 2 others (Yehoshua and Calev) gave such a diametrically opposed (and positively glowing) report on the land? Not content to simply announce their report before the people (imagine a press conference setting), the midrash states that these leaders then went tent to tent to personally convince the people what a bad idea it would be to cross the Jordan and enter the land of Israel.
The Zohar gives us a frightening answer in human nature as to what drove these leaders to reach such a conculsion. ( זהר, שלח, קנח ע"א, וראה בשפת אמת, שלח, תרל"ט, שמבאר שעיקר החשש של המרגלים היה שיאבדו את מדרגתם, כהסבר המובא להלן. ראה גם: מסילת ישרים, פרק יא, עמ' קכ"ב ( אורות חיים, ירושלים תשמ"ח).
What would have happened had all 12 people given a positive report?
1. The Jews would have gone directly into the land of Israel.
a. They wouldn't have wandered in the desert an additional 38 years.
b. An entire generation would not have died in the desert.
c. According to the midrash, none of the major tragedies would befall the Jewish people on the 9th of Av -- destruction of the Jewish Temples, and more.
2. The Beit Hamikdash would be built -- without the need of a temporary mishkan
3. The immediate anointing of a king.
It was item #3 that worried these leaders the most. If a king would be anointed, then these leaders would no longer be leaders of the Jewish people. Their personal leadership status would disappear, and in today's language -- they would be out of a job.
Astoundingly (or not) , these 10 leaders of the Jewish people sacrificed the future of the Jewish people for thousands of years to come, indirectly causing the destruction of both Temples and countless deaths of Jews -- all to support their own personal agenda of continuing to lead the Jewish people for the next 38 years in the desert.
All to keep their jobs.
Obviously, this isn't an indictment of ALL Jewish leaders, and there are many who selflessly work on behalf of the Klal, sacrificing much of their own freedom and family time for the sake of the betterment of the Jewish people.
Unfortunately, in the time of the spies, it was only 16% (2 out of 12) that knew how to do the right thing.
How many of today's Jewish leadership honestly serve the Jewish people selflessly, with 100% of their dedication for the good of the Jewish people and Israel? What drives Israel's Knesset Members, Government Ministers and Prime Minister? When story after story of corruption, or alleged corruption emerge, one could think that their paradigm for leadership are the 10 spies instead of Yehoshua and Calev.
When we read about the RCA and Israeli rabbinate jockeying for the pole position -- is it really a "machloket lisheim shamayim?"
When the OU leadership writes an open Op-Ed piece to Prime Mister Ehud Olmert in the Haaretz newspaper (Big hat-tip to JoeSettler who discusses this entire issue here) -- is that really about what is best for Israel as a whole? There's not one mention of the Gush Katif displaced families -- how most of them do not have real housing, welfare or employment solutions.
First the article states why the OU is a force to be reckoned with:
While a minority within the U.S. Jewish population, the Orthodox are unsurpassed as those closest to and most supportive of Israel. We travel to Israel more frequently than our less observant brethren; our children study in and emigrate to Israel in higher percentages; in participatory terms, we contribute more broadly to Israel-related charities and institutions; and we consistently poll as those most highly affiliated with Israel. We also identify closely with the settler community.
Then they demand that Olmert discuss the issues with the OU to gain their support.
No, Prime Minister Olmert must engage religious Zionist Americans directly and appeal to the community's deep commitment to Israel in the context of its modern role in world Judaism
Back then in the desert the results were terrifying.
What drives our Jewish Leadership today?
Food for thought.