1. It is customary to greet each other with the expression: “Shalom Aleichem — peace be unto you.” This greeting expresses our wish and hope that the person we meet should enjoy peace, a blessing which as Rashi explains “is balanced against everything.” (Vayikra 26:6)

Peace must be connected with Torah; for everything in a Jews life, health, satisfaction from our children, our work, and ourselves in general is dependent on Torah. Torah is “our length and the length of our days.” It is the medium through which G‑d grants life to a person. Furthermore, the concept of long life cannot be taken from a purely chronological perspective. Long days mean that the days are full with good things. Each moment has an importance equal to that of a number of days. Therefore, when Jews gather together it is proper to begin with a Torah concept, for Torah is “the length of our days.”

Since Torah is G‑d’s Torah, we can find within it an infinite number of lessons and directives. However, each week is connected with a specific Torah portion. That portion is connected with the present times as the Alter Rebbe declared: “We must live with the times” — i.e. look to the weekly portion for direction in dealing with the events of the week.

Even though the Torah speaks about events and situations that took place thousands of years ago, in a different place, with different conditions, nevertheless, “the Torah is eternal,” containing within it lessons for our present situation as well. The Torah speaks about actual historical events (and is not heaven forbid a collection of parables and illustrations) yet its lessons are not limited to the specific circumstances described but apply in all times and all places. In that context, since everything happens through Hashgachah Protis (Divine Providence), we must conclude that the weekly portion contains a particular lesson that is relevant to the present occasion, a gathering of Jewish women and girls as well; whose intention is that after they finish one stage of learning they will proceed further. And they will use out their time, especially the upcoming summer months in educating Jewish children and bringing them up in the way of Torah.

This weeks portion, Parshas Shelach, relates how Moshe sent spies to survey the land of Israel and see how it could be most easily conquered. When the Jews left Egypt, their intention was never to remain in the desert, but rather to proceed to Israel, “a good and large land.” (Shemos 3:8) They were meant to settle that land, a land “that is flowing with milk and honey” (Ibid.) and make it a Jewish land and a holy land. It is self-understood that G‑d saw to it that the land of Israel would have all that is necessary, that it would be “a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey;” that “nothing would be lacking in it.” (Devarim 8:8-9) Everything that a Jew (and a person in general) might want would be found in Israel.

However, since G‑d wants that all things be accomplished in the easiest and best possible manner, He gave Moshe permission to send spies to survey the land. The intention was for them to return and tell the Jewish people what a good land Israel was, and what would be the easiest way to conquer it.

However, the spies didn’t fulfill their mission as commanded. In addition to bringing back Israel’s fruit and a report of the land, they added another element, an independent decision of their own, on a question which they were not asked to pass judgment. They mentioned that it would be better for the Jewish people not to enter Israel. Though they had been sent to see the easiest way to conquer Israel, they took upon themselves to add their own opinion and argue that they should remain in the desert, even when that opinion was the opposite of Moshe’s command.

This concept contains a lesson for every Jew, particularly those involved with education. Each Jew has been sent into this world (and in particular to his individual country, city, or place) to transform the world around him from a desert into “a good and large land” (i.e. an extension of the land of Israel). G‑d gives the Jewish people the potential, and inner powers and capabilities, of carrying out their mission in the best and most successful manner. Each person is entrusted with a mission that is appropriate to the unique set of potentials which he personally has been given. Each Jew has the power to make his portion in the world like the land of Israel. Through these efforts we become a living example to other Jews around us and show them how they, too, can transform their personal environment, the desert around them into a land of Israel.

This holds true even though we are “the fewest of all the nations.” (Devarim 7:7) In particular, we might find ourselves in an environment where we are a minority, where most of the people living around us do not follow Torah and Mitzvos. Even in such a case, one must make from a desert a “good and large land.” The behavior of the Jewish people in the desert serves as an example of this process. In every place that they came into, together with the sanctuary, (which contained the tablets and Torah), Moshe Rabbeinu, and the Sanhedrin (and wise man of Israel) they transformed it from a desert into a “settled land;” with fruit producing trees being found there.

This however, is not the ultimate that G‑d desired from a Jew. G‑d wants the Jews to enter and settle all of Israel. That settlement will make Israel a holy land and bring about abundant blessings throughout the entire world. When the blessings come from a holy land, they are themselves holy and pure. Then they have an affect on the entire world and bring it to the level of the land of Israel.

The same holds true on a personal level. In Torah Or, the Alter Rebbe explains that land is used as a metaphor for the Jewish people, as can be seen in the verse “You shall be a land of delight.” (Malachi 3:12) The land is also a metaphor for Torah and Mitzvos.1 Through Torah we, and our families and home become connected with the land in which G‑d is found. This in turn becomes the proper preparation for the future redemption, when we will all come to Israel.

2. However, it is possible to make the same mistake as the spies did. They decided to adapt a perspective that was determined by the material nature of the world. Then, when the Jew sees the world’s physical nature and sees that people are dominated by physical desires, it is possible for him to lose heart. He knows that he is part of “the fewest of all the nations.” He realizes that in his own city, he and the others who follow Torah and Mitzvos are a minority.2 Nevertheless, Torah teaches it is his responsibility to conquer the world, to make his house, his environment, and the entire world a dwelling place for G‑d.

Parshas Shelach teaches us that it is possible that others will try to scare you off from partaking in the holy mission that you have from G‑d Himself — making the world a dwelling place for G‑d. They will tell you that the non-Jewish influences in the world are “men of great stature” (Bamidbar 13:32), big and strong. The “fortified” (cities, The Rebbe said the term citadel) — the protected and strongest places, are “fortified up to heaven” (Devarim 1:28). They are so steadfast that they can G‑d forbid have an affect in the Heavens. Therefore (G‑d forbid) it would be better that one should be satisfied with taking care of himself, and leave the world to remain a “desert.”

However, the lesson that we have to take out from Parshas Shelach is that a Jew is not alone. He finds himself together with G‑d. A Jew is G‑d’s agent, as it states: “The steps of man are directed by G‑d.” (Psalms 37:23) Wherever a Jew finds himself, is the place where G‑d has sent him, and G‑d goes with the person to help him fulfill his mission.

Furthermore, a Jew must realize that fulfilling G‑d’s mission is not a private matter. One cannot say “I won’t carry out G‑d’s mission. I accept whatever punishment my deeds will bring, but refuse to fulfill the mission.” He must know that this is a matter that pertains to the whole Jewish people. Parshas Shelach tells us how because of the deeds of just a few individuals the entire Jewish people (as well as G‑d, the sanctuary, the ark, and all the holy vessels) were forced to remain in the desert for forty years. This all came about because there were a few Jews who did not fulfill G‑d’s mission as they should have. Instead of fulfilling G‑d’s mission as should have been done, — through which they would have brought about the greatest good possible for themselves, their families, and the whole Jewish people — they reckoned with a worldly consideration, something they were not told to do. This not only harmed those few Jews, it also harmed the entire Jewish people. From this we understand that carrying out G‑d’s mission is a matter that pertains to the whole Jewish people, and that it is not a private matter.

However, after the sin of the spies, in the same Parshah, G‑d told Moshe “Speak unto the children of Israel and tell them ‘when you enter the land of your dwelling...’ He announced to them that they would enter Israel.” (Bamidbar 15:2 & Rash’) Rather than let the Jews fall into despair, G‑d promised them that they would eventually enter Israel. Even if for some reason it happened that a Jew fell through, and did not fulfill G‑d’s mission as he should have; G‑d is “slow to anger”(Ibid. 14:18) and will surely forgive him. However, this is not the optimum situation. G‑d desires a Jew to be happy, and to achieve that happiness in the fastest, fullest, and best manner possible. This comes about through a Jew fulfilling his mission in this world — through conducting oneself according to the Torah (the oral law), which is called “land” which is the place where G‑d’s will is explicitly revealed. Through conducting oneself according to the Torah, which is “our life and the length of our days”; this will bring about the maximum of good and blessings to each Jew wherever they may be found. And through this person, to the whole Jewish nation, until the true and complete redemption is brought about.

3. This concept contains a special lesson for those who are planning to spend the next weeks involved with the education of Jewish children. They may encounter children who have as of yet not received a true understanding about Yiddishkeit. Also, it is possible they will have desires for things that are opposed to Yiddishkeit.

It is possible that the teacher will think, — being that he (or she) is only one person, and in his class or bunk there are so many children — how is it possible for him to accomplish that in every child it should be openly recognizable that this is a child of whom G‑d says ““You shall be a land of delight.” This is a child from whom G‑d has pleasure. The teacher knowing that it is his responsibility to bring the good qualities of the child about, can become frightened from the nature of the child — he sees that the child has some bad qualities and traits.

We tell him that he need not become frightened from his mission. G‑d is with him and helps him carry out the mission. On the verse, “You will be a land of delight,” the Baal Shem Tov commented: that just as the land contains within jewels and great treasures. Similarly, each Jewish soul possesses great treasures. This is the task of every educator and counselor: to reveal the great treasures that each Jewish child possesses and to develop the child to the point where he, together with his parents and the entire Jewish people, can use them in the best way possible.

This is the general lesson that we take from Parshas Shelach. Every aspect of the situation that prevailed in the times of the spies has its parallel in the worlds present situation. Now, too, it is possible that Jews will be prevented or weakened in their service to carry out G‑d’s mission in spreading Torah, Mitzvos, and Yiddishkeit. Parshas Shelach teaches us that we should not lose one moment in carrying out this mission nor should we lessen even to a slight degree, the joy and energy with which the mission should be carried out.

This will serve as the preparation for the entry into the land of Israel, “a good and large land;” through learning the laws that pertain to “when you enter into the land of your dwelling.” Then all the Jews will come to Israel, with the ingathering of the exiles.

4. There is an intrinsic connection between Jewish women and the entering into the land of Israel. Our Sages tell us, that when the spies returned, they were able to influence the men, but the women remained steadfast in their desire to enter Israel. This shows on the idea of Shleimus ho’Oretz — the full and complete state of Israel.

This is connected with the fact, that by the Jewish women there was Shleimus haTorah. At the time of the Golden Calf, the women did not participate or give their jewelry for its construction. Thus they were involved in Shleimus haTorah — the full and complete state of Torah.3

Likewise, Shleimus ho’Om — the full and complete state of the Jewish nation, — was connected with the Jewish women. Among the Jewish women of that generation there was only one who did not conduct herself in a modest manner in regard to Taharas HaMishpocha (“she alone wasn’t modest and the Scripture reveals her” Rashi Vayikra 24:11. And even in this case, it wasn’t that she fell through, and was guilty, but rather she was forced).

From this we understand the powers that G‑d gives Jewish women in our generation.4 Jewish women stand firm on Shleimus haTorah — they are not willing to give up any aspect of Yiddishkeit since it is connected with G‑d’s Torah.

This in turn relates to Shleimus ho’Om, they refuse to show despair and try to involve themselves in the education of every Jewish child bringing them to the level of “a land of delight.” This will be the preparation to Shleimus ho’Oretz — the land of Israel will remain complete and none of the other nations that surround it will be able to disturb it. G‑d promised us “they will contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize, for G‑d is with us.”

This is brought about through the help of each one of you, who will surely influence all of your friends — and all Jewish women and girls that you can contact — to hold steadfast in Shleimus haTorah. They will lead a complete life according to the Shulchan Aruch. Also to hold by Shleimus ho’Om, not to despair from any Jewish child that you will meet up with. Rather, you will bring the child closer to Yiddishkeit, thus paving the way for the future redemption.

And then when Moshiach will come, you will greet him with your students and he will derive pleasure from the fruits of your work — the children who you trained to observe Torah and Mitzvos in the time of Golus.

And this is connected with Shleimus haGeulah — the full and complete redemption by Moshiach. He will take each of us out of our inner Golus and take us as a whole out of Golus, and lead us upright to our land.