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Sharfman’s Weekly Dvar Torah

Welcome to the Sharfman’s Weekly Dvar Torah! Bnot Torah/Sharfman’s, is legendary for offering you inspirational classes as well as shiurim that feature intellectual stimulation for your mind and soul. Ever week, we will update this page with a Weekly Dvar Torah from Rabbi Shlomo Borinstein, our amazing Parsha teacher who captivates his audience, while making the words of the Parsha come to life before your eyes.  If you are looking for more  Torah from Bnot Torah, click here to enjoy Rabbi Sharfman’s  Podcast. Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!

Parshas Shlach

By: Rabbi Shlomo Borinstein

Rav Dessler, in his Michtav M’Eliyahu, explains that before Adam did the sin everything was given to him on a silver platter. He didn’t have to do anything. After the sin he was punished with “By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread”, meaning he would have to make a Hishtadlus, an effort, if he wanted to succeed. Therefore, we see, that Hishtadlus is a curse and a punishment. We have no choice. We have to do it. But like any punishment, you try to avoid it as much as possible. Would you willfully try to get lashes or pay fines if you didn’t have to? And since the Torah doesn’t give a Shiur of how much Hishtadlus you should make, there’s no reason to do more than the bare minimum.

So how much is the bare minimum? Rav Dessler brings Rav Zundel from Salant, who basically says that a person needs to do just enough that you wouldn’t call it a miracle if things worked out so theoretically you would be able to make a mistake and attribute the success to yourself. This is the minimum curse that a person should accept upon themselves.

However there’s a problem. What happens if HaShem decides to test you and makes things not work out the way you wanted them to? If you did the bare minimum of Hishtadlus you might lose all your Emunah and say that obviously it’s up to me if I’m going to succeed. Enough of this relying on HaShem, I have to try harder and put in more hours. Therefore, Rav Dessler writes, there is a very fine line tightrope that a person must walk when it comes to Hishtadlus. On one hand you must minimize the Hishtadlus as much as possible. This will make it easier for you to see that really HaShem is behind everything. But, on the other hand you must know yourself very well as to how much Hishtadlus you need, so that if it fails, you won’t lose your Emunah.

This amount of Hishtadlus is extremely difficult to decide upon and we find that even Moshe Rabbeinu wasn’t privy to the answer. At the beginning of the Parsha, HaShem tells Moshe “Shlach Lecha”, send spies according to your understanding. Meaning, Moshe and Klal Yisrael had to decide what the proper Hishtadlus was in regards to conquering Eretz Yisrael. Did they need to send in the spies or was that overdoing it? It was a hard decision. What level were they holding at, and what would happen if they entered without spies and HaShem decided to make their first conquest not successful? Would they totally rebel?

There’s an incredible Midrash which says that the people came to Moshe to request sending in spies. Moshe asked them why they need them. The people answered that HaShem had promised that when they entered they would inherit all the riches of the land. Now, what’s going to happen if the Caananim hide their money and the Jews won’t be able to find it? There will be a terrible Chilul HaShem because everyone will think that HaShem didn’t keep his word. Therefore, for the sake of Kiddush HaShem, let them send in the spies so that they would see where the money was hidden. At first glance these people look like tremendous Tzaddikim, and it could be they were. But what they didn’t realize is that in truth their reason for sending in the spies wasn’t a hundred percent for the sake of Kiddush HaShem. There was also an element of wanting to do their Hishtadlus as well and because of this they failed. They should have realized that on their level, that Hishtadlus was improper.

If deciding how much Hishtadlus to do is so hard that even Moshe and the people of the Midbar had problems with it, than how are we supposed to come up with the right amount? What we need to understand is that every single one of us has a point of truth buried inside that HaShem will never allow to be totally covered up. If we tap into ourselves, understand who we really are, we can find that Emes and understand what is right for me. The problem is that so few of us really know who we are. We’re so busy being hooked up to the world around us with our phones and computers we never stop to get to know ourselves. The thought of not having a cell-phone 24/7 is scary. But the truth is, having one is even scarier because you never stop to talk to the one who is closest to you, yourself.

Having Emunah and minimizing Hishtadlus are musts that we are obligated to work on. Try to get to know yourself so you won’t have to spend forty years wandering around.

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