Parshat Shlach deals with the story of the spies sent by Moses to investigate the Holy Land which the Jewish People were to enter.

They returned with a slanderous report, emphasizing the difficulties in conquering the land, thus discouraging the people and weakening their faith. This led to the tragic consequences related in the Parsha.

Chassidism explains that the spies did not wish to enter the Land of Israel because they did not want to become involved with the materialism of the world.

For the duration of the Jewish people's stay in the desert, they were free from such involvements: their food came from heaven (the manna); water they had from the miraculous "Well of Miriam," and they were sheltered by the Heavenly "Clouds of Glory," which also cleaned and pressed their garments.

Thus they did not wish to leave the desert to enter the Holy Land where they would have to engage in ploughing, sowing, and all other normative activities for their daily existence.

The spies' motive may have been well-intended and spiritual, but it ran counter to the Divine intent.

For G‑d created the world in order to have a Divine abode in this physical world: man is to transform himself and the material world into a worthy abode for G‑dliness.

This is done by using, and relating to, every created substance for its Divinely intended purpose, thus elevating and sublimating it to a spiritual reality.

That is why we were given the Torah and mitzvot, which enable us to achieve that goal. And that is our task and mission for the duration of the galut.

The Messianic era is the ultimate purpose of the creation.

That is when this physical world will demonstrably be a Divine abode with a manifestation of G‑dliness.

It will be a time of "neither famine nor war, neither envy nor strife, because good will emanate in abundance and all delightful things will be accessible like dust. The one preoccupation of the entire world will be solely to know G‑d. The Israelites, therefore, will be great sages and know the hidden matters, attaining knowledge of their Creator to the end of human capacity, as it is said: `The earth shall be full with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the sea.'" (Maimonides)

This ultimate perfection of the Messianic era, and the Resurrection of the Dead, depends on our actions and service of G‑d throughout the duration of the galut (Exile).

The error of the spies began with trying to circumvent and avoid this refining and preparing of the world.

Mundane entanglements, involvement with worldly matters, may be tiresome, difficult and distasteful for one who aspires to spiritual heights. They are, however, an integral part of the Divine plan, and as Chassidism explains: "The ultimate intent of the descent of the descent and exile is to prepare for an immense ascent when, in the days of Moshiach, the light of G‑d will radiate in a manifest way!"

Torat HaGeulah
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Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory