Rashi brings that the juxtaposition of Miriam contacting tzaraas for speaking Lashon Harah on Moshe and the parsha of the Meraglim is to point out that even though the spies witnessed the severe results of speaking Lashon Harah from Miriam’s affliction yet they did not learn from it but rather spoke Lashon Harah on Eretz Yisrael. The mefarshim ask but how can one compare the two Lashan Harahs? One was towards a person and the other was towards earth and trees?
We can answer this question with a fundamental introduction. There are two methods through which Hashem conducts His creation. One is called miracle and the other is called nature. The truth is that nature is also a miracle except it is concealed. If one has deep insight like Am Yisrael had in the period of the Purim redemption, one will still realize that his salvation came through Hashem’s intervention without the necessity of miracle to bring home the same idea. As the Yaaros Devash explains that the Chazal say (Yuma 29) that Esther is called Ayelet Hashachar because she is compared to the dawn. Just as the dawn is the indicator that night has ended so too Esther is the end of the miracles.
The question arises that the dawn ends the night and brings on the light which symbolizes miracles and yet Esther is called the end of miracles? Rav Yonasan Eibshutz answers that in the darkness of Purim, Hashem enlightened Am Yisrael to attain the belief that hiding within nature lies Hashem’s constant miracles. Esther is the end of miracles. This means that there is no more need for them. Am Yisrael has learned from Purim that even nature is a miracle. And if Hashem redeems Yisrael through nature they have learned to realize that their salvation came directly from Hashem.
The same applies to living in Eretz Yisrael. To live there, Am Yisrael must be on the level that even without open miracles they would still realize that only due to Hashem’s providence is what made their war campaigns and living successful. This is because the land possesses a unique quality different from all other lands and that is, it enables one to become smartמחכים (Baba Basra 158b). Wisdom begins and ends with Yiras Shamayim ראשית חכמה יראת ה’ סוף דבר הכל נשמע את האלקים ירא. The person who possesses true wisdom and Yiras Shamayim is the one who realizes that everything is a miracle from Hashem.
However, the spies were of the opinion that Am Yisrael were not on such a spiritual level and if Hashem would rely on hidden miracles of the type found in nature of Eretz Yisrael, the nakedness and sins of Yisrael would surely be revealed. The Meraglim’s worry stemmed from their misinterpretation of the directive to spy on “Eretz Canaan” (Bamidbar 2,13,17). Canaan the son of Cham was cursed because he revealed to his father his grandfather’s nakedness. The Meraglim saw in this name of Canaan spiritual fallout for it sent the message that by being in Eretz Yisrael one becomes very vulnerable in revealing his nakedness since its spirituality is so demanding.
This especially applies to the aspect of our discussion that Eretz Yisrael has very little overt miracles for it relies heavily on the emunah that one can naturally absorb from the mere nature and atmosphere of the land. In short the Meraglim claimed that Eretz Yisrael would be detrimental for Am Yisrael at their present madraigah.
This was their same intent when they claimed כי חזק הוא ממנו (Bamidbar 13,31) that the land is stronger than him – referring to Klal Yisrael. That Eretz Yisrael with its hidden miracles will overpower Yisrael into thinking that Hashem is not so involved in their daily lives. For Yisrael to stay spiritually healthy they are going to need the miracles that they experienced in the desert, the Clouds of Glory, the manna, the Be’ar Miriam. Through these open miracles their emunah that Hashem is present with them all the time will endure.
Their same intent is also hinted in the passuk (Bamidbar 13,32) ויוציאו דבת הארץ אשר תרו אותה אל בני ישראל . The passuk does not say that they spoke Lashon Harah on the land but rather they spoke the Lashon Harah of the land? Secondly, these three words אל בני ישראל is superfluous?
These words can be explained based on the Oheiv Yisrael’s interpretation on why the earth did not fulfill Hashem’s command of bringing forth trees tasting like its fruit (Bereishis 1,11,Rashi). The Oheiv Yisrael writes that the spiritual earth in heaven saw that Adam was going to sin with which all humanity will perish from the world. In order to avoid such a catastrophe it performed an aveirah Lishmah and changed from the will of Hashem by not making the tree taste like its fruit. By doing so the earth’s hope was that when Adam will sin he will now have a justification for his action for he was created from earth that sinned against Hashem’s command. What can you expect from him?
That means that the earth was afraid that Adam will eventually show his nakedness by sinning. This reasoning of the earth is called Dibbas Haaretz the speech or the intent of the land. And the truth was that Adam did show his nakedness after he ate from the Aitz Hadaas as the passuk says וידעו כי עירומים הם that they realized they were naked from spirituality (Rashi).
With this explanation we can answer our original question how do Chazal relate the speaking of Lashan Harah on a human to the speaking of Lashan Harah on the land? In reality the Meraglim spoke slander on Am Yisrael that they were not on the madraigah of living in Eretz Yisrael without open miracles for fear that their nakedness would be revealed. This is almost explicit in the passuk ויוציאו דבת הארץ אשר תרו אל בני ישראל. The last three words אל בני ישראל are superfluous? In truth they are not at all. For the passuk is telling us that the subject of the Meraglim’s Lashan Harah was the spiritual inferiority of Bnei Yisrael.
However, the correct and expected positive interpretation of the usage of the name Eretz Cannaan as a segment of the Meraglim’s mission is answered by the Yalkut. Hashem said to Yisrael that you are not worthy to receive Eretz Yisrael but He remembered Yitzchak who was born to Avraham at 100 years old and to Sarah at 90 years old, together the gematriah of 190 the same as כנען .
How are we to understand this Medrash?
As we explained above, Eretz Yisrael unlike Chutz Laaretz doesn’t need open miracles in order for one to recognize Hashem. The passuk says שכון בארץ ורעה אמונה (Tehillim 37,3) Live on the land and pasture in its emunah. Yet, Yisrael on their own were not on this madraigah and therefore would need miracles to come to this emunah and this would alter the special nature and segulah of Eretz Yisrael. But then Hashem reckoned in the birth of Yitzchak which reaffirmed that Yisrael will truly be infused with this emunah of Eretz Yisrael through the zechus of Yitzchak. For since his birth he never left Eretz Yisrael as did the other Avos. At the Akaidah on Har Hamoriyah he surrendered his life to Hashem will full emunah, thus facilitating Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael an easy absorption of natural emunah from the holy land and its holy atmosphere.
The bottom line of the Chait Meraglim was their test of how to interpret the word כנען, to choose the positive interpretation or to be influenced by their own subjectivities and interpret it in a negative light. If they would have chosen the correct interpretation of כנען and see the zechus of Yitzchak and the Akaidah, then Klal Yisrael would have been zoche to the קץ which is gematriah כנען. For with the positive interpretation Am YIsrael would have went straight into Eretz Yisrael, build the Beis Hamikdash and bring Moshiach. The קץwould have returned the world to the emes that was compromised after eating from the Aitz Hadaas. This is also hinted in the word כנען when spelled with all the outer and inner letters – כף נון עין נון which equals 442 the same as אמת (with the word).
It was the wrong choice and every Tisha B’av we mourn for it. This is also hinted in the words והימים ימי בכורי ענבים which the sefarim explain to mean a time to rectify eating from the Aitz Hadaas which was a grape tree. Instead of בכורי ענביםwhich is gematria 412 (including the two words), which is also gematriah בית referring to the Beis Hamikdash, we ended up with טת אב the ninth day of Av which is also gematriah 412.
Now we can understand the meaning of Chazal (Kesuvos 110b) that whoever lives in Eretz Yisrael is considered as if he has a G-d but living in Chutz Laaretz indicates he is missing G-d. Our interpretation of this puzzling Chazal is that they are talking about living without open miracles. In Eretz Yisrael just living there without any supernatural experiences one feels he has a living G-d who is performing hidden miracles daily. In contrast to Chutz Laaretz, one must experience open miracles to feel that he has this living G-d with him for otherwise he lacks that conscious emunah that is present and felt in Eretz Yisrael.