Kenneth Cohen

Crying for Nothing

This week we read of the tragic story of the spies, and their evil report about Eretz Yisrael. They should have known better not to speak Lashon Hara. This incident followed Miriam’s punishment for speaking against Moshe Rabbeinu.

The Keli Yakar’s version of the story was that one of the purposes of sending the heads of the tribes as spies, was to test their true character.

We must not be intimidated by the outward appear of certain so called leaders. They might look the part because of how they dressed and carried themselves, but being able to stand up to the challenge of faith, might be another story.

The Talmud emphasizes the importance of תוכו כברו, that one’s inside must be like his outside. The spies failed miserably and chose to bad mouth Israel, instead of appreciating its holiness.

They succeeded in demoralizing the people that led to the night of, “crying for nothing.” Hashem said that this date, the ninth of Av, would be one of eternal weeping. Both Temples were destroyed on this date, as well as many other tragedies.

Sometimes the true men of faith are not necessarily the ones that feign piety, and are going through the motions. Their phoniness eventually gets exposed when they show weakness and not strength.

We are living in a time of incredible heroism. Our brave young soldiers have demonstrated just how much they love the land. They are rectifying the sin of the spies, as they are motivated by a deep love for the Land of Israel, and all Jews.

Caleb said it best as one of the two good spies. “We can beat these guys, for the land given to us, is a very, very good land.”
Those who see the miracles of Eretz Yisrael, long to be here, and are here. But it is the masses who are blinded by their comforts, that fail to appreciate Israel, and are left behind. Their phoniness will lead to their own downfall.

We are living in amazing times, and one would have to be blind, not to see how special these times are. The story of the spies should be all we need to get our thinking back on track.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at