The passage entitled Shlach relates how 12 individuals were sent to spy out Eretz Yisrael. Upon their return, the spies — except for Calev and Yehoshua — told the people that the land would be impossible to conquer, thereby rousing the people’s wrath against Moshe. The verse goes on to say:1 “And Calev quieted the people about Moshe.”

Rashi explains2 how Calev got their attention: “He screamed and said: ‘Is this all that [Moshe] the son of Amram has done to us?’ ”

The listeners thought he was going to speak badly about him, and since they were already angry with Moshe, they became silent in order to hear more about his shortcomings. Then Calev said: ‘He [Moshe] has split the sea for us; he made the manna descend for us; he has provided us with quail!’ ”

Moshe’s accomplishments on behalf of the Jewish people were extensive. Why does Rashi conclude that Calev referred to these three achievements in particular?

The spies’ case against entering Eretz Yisrael was based on three factors: a) the might of the inhabitants and the fortifications of their cities;3 b) even before entering the land, the Jews would have to confront nations that would not let them proceed;4 c) in mentioning the nations the Jews would have to confront, the spies gave precedence to the Amalekites, who had already “burned” the Jewish people once. This aroused an even greater fear.5

The spies were not satisfied merely to point out the might of Eretz Yisrael’ s populace and cities, for they were aware of the Jewish people’s belief in G‑d; since He told them to enter Eretz Yisrael , surely He could intervene in a miraculous manner, as they had witnessed in the past. Therefore, the spies went on to mention the Amalekites, thereby alluding to the fact that, just as the Jews’ earlier doubts in G‑d had caused them to be harmed by Amalek,6 so too would doubts about their ability to conquer the land — for which reason they asked that spies be sent7 — cause G‑d to refrain from performing miracles on their behalf.

However, since G‑d agreed to the request that spies be sent, it was logical to assume that He would enable the Jews to enter Eretz Yisrael , their misdeeds notwithstanding. The spies therefore presented yet a third argument — there were nations that would never allow the Jewish people to make it to the borders. Even if G‑d would provide miracles regarding the conquest of the land, who was to say that He would help them enter it?

Calev thereupon brought up three of Moshe’s accomplishments, and in doing so demolished the spies’ arguments.

With regard to the might of the inhabitants, Calev countered with “He has split the sea for us.” At the time of the sea’s splitting, the Jews were faced with a battle that could not be won by natural means. And just as G‑d fought for them then, so too would He fight for them in their conquest of the land.

Calev dealt with the argument about the Amalekites by saying: “he has provided us with quail.” Although the request for meat was made with sinful intent,8 G‑d provided it nonetheless. Thus, G‑d would provide miracles for the Jewish people even after they had erred in requesting that spies be sent.

The final argument of the spies — that there was no proof that G‑d would provide miracles concerning those nations that would hinder their entry into the land — was nullified by Calev’s statement, “he made the manna descend for us.” The manna which the Jews received in the desert was not essential — the entire journey in the desert was but a preparation for entering the land. Nevertheless, G‑d performed miracles even during this preparatory stage. And so too would He provide miracles as the Jews prepared to conquer the land.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VIII, pp. 82-89