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Monday, June 27, 2005

A Vort on Parshas Shelach

Unfortunately, this only reached my eyes after Shabbos, but it's still worth posting now.
(Quoted by R' Yissocher Frand)

An interesting observation from Rav Elya Meir Bloch (Telsher Rosh Yeshiva, one of the pioneers of Torah in the post war era) on the pasuk [Bamidbar 13:18] "the dwellers therein - are they strong or weak?"

Rashi says the way the spies were supposed to determine whether the inhabitants of the land were strong or weak was by the type of cities they inhabited. Dwelling in unwalled cities indicated that they were strong, since they relied on their strength, while living in fortified cities was a signed of weakness.

Our gut reaction would be just the opposite. Our first thought would be that if they live in fortified cities they would be hard to conquer. Fortresses, we think, are signs of a mighty nation. On the other hand, one would think that a nation that lives in a bunch of tents would be defenseless, and easy to conquer. It should be a pushover!

No. Appearances are deceiving. If they need to fortify themselves from the outside, it is a sign that internally they are weak. On the other hand, if they have the confidence to live openly, this is a sign that internally they are strong.

Rav Elya Meir said there exits an old conflict as to whether it is better to 'insulate' or to 'isolate'. In other words, should a person surround himself with walls to spiritually protect himself from the corrupting influences of the outside world, or should he live openly and have contact with one and all as a means of retaining spiritual vitality?

Rav Elya Meir writes that people who insulate themselves by building strong fortresses are not necessarily demonstrating signs of strength. As Rashi points out, these fortresses may in fact be signs of weakness. People who are internally strong have no need for such walls. On the other hand, people who live openly and intermingle with the rest of society must have an internal strength that allows them to preserve their integrity without resorting to artificial barriers that separate themselves from the allure of surrounding influences.


Blogger ClooJew said...

This is, lulei demistafina, an old vort. I've heard it before--that fortification indicates weakness.

However, one could argue, that in today's society, we are all by definition weak. Ein apitropos la'arayos, and therefore our only hope is fortification.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Fortification also gives rise to successively weaker generations, and generations less able to cope.

Sort of like raising a child in a germ free environment.

What may have been good for a first or second post war generation may not be equally good as a permanent arrangement.

4:38 PM  

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