In our last week’s post we already referred to Torah Portion “Shlakh”, which we read in Israel, but outside of Israel the reading actually was that of the Torah portion “Be’haalotkha”.
This Shabbat in Israel we will already read the portion of Korah, but since the majority of our readers live outside of Israel, we will refer again to the Torah Portion “Shlakh”.
In the Book of Proverbs (6:6), King Solomon tells the lazy person that he should go and observe the way of life of an ant.
לֵךְ-אֶל-נְמָלָה עָצֵל רְאֵה דְרָכֶיהָ וַחֲכָם
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise…
We brought this verse from Proverbs, because of the puzzling explanation that the commentator Rashi brings in regards with the description with which ten out of the twelve spies sent by Moses return, after spending 40 days of scouting the Land of Israel.
“The people who live in the Land are such giants that we appeared to be like grasshoppers in their eyes!”
וְשָׁם רָאִינוּ, אֶת-הַנְּפִילִים בְּנֵי עֲנָק–מִן-הַנְּפִלִים; וַנְּהִי בְעֵינֵינוּ כַּחֲגָבִים, וְכֵן הָיִינוּ בְּעֵינֵיהֶם
Rashi explains that the Spies overheard the giants saying, “There are ants in the vineyard that look like people.”
There is an inconsistency in Rashi’s explanation.
If the Torah explicitly compares the Spies to grasshoppers, then Rashi should have said that the Spies overheard the giants saying, “There are grasshoppers in the vineyard”.
Why then Rashi mentions ants?
The Midrash explains that the ant spends the entire summer gathering different types of kernels and beans.
Working hard, ants can gather enormous amounts of grain during the summer. Yet ants only live for six months, during which time it is only capable of actually consuming very little of the kernels and beans!
So, the question is:
Why do ants gather vastly more food
than they are consuming?
According to the Midrash, the ant says to itself, “Perhaps God will decree long life for me, therefore I will be prepared.”
From here we see that the fundamental characteristic of an ant is that of preparation and saving for the future.
King Solomon therefore teaches the lazy person to go out and observe the ant, so that he too can learn to prepare in this world for the Next World – the Eternal World.
The grasshopper, however, is the antithesis of the ant.
The grasshopper, instead of saving its food for the future, is constantly involved in eating, in the present.
Thus, the grasshopper symbolizes those who materialistically think only of the present – the “here” and “now”.
Ten (out of twelve) spies referred to themselves as grasshoppers!
According to the Talmud they were carrying the physical fruits of the Land of Israel, and, like the grasshoppers, they were relating to the materialistic qualities of this world.
The Talmud teaches that Joshua and Calev, were not carrying the physical fruits of the Land. They were interested in the spiritual properties of the Land of Israel and the impact of those on the eternal existence.
Thus, Rashi’s comment about ants does not contradict the verse in the Torah.
It actually refers to Joshua and Calev who were viewing the world through the eyes of the ant.
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