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In this week's Torah portion (Shelach), the Megaleh Amukot (R' Nosson Nata Shapira ztz'l) gives us a new perspective on Moshe and on the spies whom he sent into the land of Israel. As a general rule, the commentaries look askance at the spies and their entire generation, who seemed not to want to enter the land of Israel. They felt themselves to be above the physical work that awaited them in Israel, preferring instead to remain "above the fray" and study Torah in the desert. However, R' Shapira looks at the situation in an opposite way regarding Moshe. Moshe Rabeinu wanted to enter Israel, but Hashem would not allow him to enter because in essence Moshe's soul was beyond Israel. He was from an already-rectified spiritual level from which he would have to descend in order to enter the Land. The fact that he was not allowed to enter Israel was a sign of his greatness, not of any transgression or sin.

R'Shapira suggests that sending the spies was something that Moshe wanted to do in order to inform the population of his high spiritual level. He wished to let them know that he represented kindness and mercy. That is why the Torah records that that he wished to ascertain if "there are trees or not." A tree is symbolic of a tzadik, or righteous person, of whom Moshe was a prime example. And therefore Moshe sent the spies "to check out the land." The Hebrew words are latur et haaretz, which forms an acrostic (lamed-aleph-hey), spelling "Leah" in Hebrew. With this acrostic, the Torah informs us that Moshe's soul was from the element of "Leah," who represents the quality of rachamim, or "mercy." One of the most important traits of a tzadik is his ability to bring down mercy to bless and alleviate stress among the people of the land. However, the spies made their way to Rehov lavo chamat, which is an acrostic for "Rachel." Rachel, though a righteous woman, also had a streak of din, or judgment in her, evidenced in her anger at Yaakov when they had no children, and in her determination to separate her father from his idols, among other things. Thus it became known that although Moshe was from the attribute of mercy, the land and the people were from the attribute of din and judgment, and it was not yet time for a tzadik of Moshe's caliber to enter the land.

Last week, we explained that our sixteenth century sage, the Megaleh Amukot (R' Nosson Nata Shapira ztz'l) developed a very interesting theory regarding the Menorah (which was commanded in last week's parsha, Beha'alotcha). His theory was that Moshe Rabeinu's difficulty in understanding the Menorah was because of the twenty-two "cups" and delicate "flowers" that were molded onto the branches of the Menorah in the Temple, He did not understand what they represented until God explained to him that the cups corresponded to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, from aleph to tov. Those twenty-two were sub-divided into three "source letters," seven "double letters" and twelve "simple letters," each category serving its own purpose in the creation of the world in the three dimensions of space, time and soul (olam, shana, nephesh).

However, that leaves us with two questions; first of all, how do we discern the letters in the Menorah? How does the structure of the Menorah reveal the letters? Furthermore, there seem to be not twenty-two letters, but twenty-seven letters. When we include the final forms of five of the letters; mem, nun, tzadik, peh and cof. we count twenty-seven rather than twenty-two letters. Regarding the first question, it turned out to be precisely what bothered Moshe. That is, Moshe could not fathom: If the theme of the Menorah is to bring Godliness down into the world, then it needs the twenty-two letters of the alphabet, and where do we see them on the Menorah? Rabbi Shapira suggests that the letters were all inter-connected and therefore indiscernible from one another (which is why they cannot be detected on the Menorah) until the sin of Adam, the first man. But with Adam's sin, the five letters mentioned above became separated from their holy source (sin and transgression results in separation) and instead of twenty-two letters (represented by the word chitah, or "wheat," which carries the gematria of twenty-two), there were now twenty-seven letters. In fact, the final letter of chitah is a hey of gematria five, symbolizing the five letters that "separated" to take on an ending forms after Adam's sin.

Rabbi Shapira elaborates, "The twenty-two letters were united and connected from the "stem" (yereicha) of the Menorah until the "flowers" (pircha) (see Num 8:4)." That is, the Menorah was molded out of one large piece of gold. Only after the "stem" of this solid piece of gold did the letters become discernible, in the form of the twenty-two "flowers" (pircha) that were on the "arms," or candelabra of the Menorah. But, the five "ending letters" (mem, nun, tzadi, peh and cof sofit) made their appearance on the stem itself, in the form of five "cups" and "flowers" that are part of the stem. Only afterward, in the branches (candelabra), do the rest of the letters become separated into distinct elements of their own. That is why the verse tells us, "from the stem until the flowers." The word pircha, meaning "flowers" is spelt peh-resh-chet-hey. The first two letters peh-resh carry the gematria 280 that we already know of as the sum of the five ending letters (and the source of much difficult din and judgment in the world, since "ending" implies disconnect and separation). However, these five letters may be broken further into eight forms, as follows: the mem may be broken into a cof-vov, the tzadik into a yud-gimmel, the peh into a yud-cof. Thus, the peh-resh comes from eight forms of the five ending letters, together forming the word peh-resh-chet (eight)-hey (five) - pircha. Or, in terms of the physical Menorah, the letters were originally united and inseparable in the "stem" (yereicha) of the Menorah, and then the "ending letters" made an appearance on the stem, after which the twenty-two "cups" or "flowers" appeared on the branches of the Menorah, corresponding to the twenty-two letters of the aleph-beit.

When the universe was created, God used the letters from aleph to tov, as recorded in the Genesis narrative. There, we see that Bereishit barah Elokim et (aleph-tov) Hashamayim v'et (aleph-tov) haaretz (Gen 1:1 - "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"), using the letters from aleph to tov. However, after the sin, and in the second creation narrative (Gen 2:4), the Torah utilizes the letter hey, "Eileh toldot hashamayim vehaaretz BeHeybaram…" ("These are the chronology of the heavens and the earth as they were created…"). R' Shapira says that the letter hey in the word beHeybaram ("as they were created") is the same hey that was separated from the twenty two letters after Adam's sin. The five letters that it represents carry a total gematria of 280, which is also the gematria of ruach hatumah ("impure spirit"), and according to R' Shapira, these five letters represent strong "judgment" and din.

Interestingly, R' Shapira suggests that the Torah was originally "round," concealing all of its secrets within, but with Adam's sin, the Torah became a sefer, or scroll. The word for sefer begins with the round letter somech, and is followed by peh-resh, the two letters that together have the gematria of 280 (representing all the five ending letters together). For the same reason, Adam offered a par (peh-resh, meaning "cow") as his sacrifice to atone for his sin. Ultimately, even the sefer Torah was divided further by the two upside down nun's that appear in our parsha. And there, Moshe Rabeinu uses the word Shuvah, or shuv-hey ("return"), regarding the progress of the holy ark as the Jewish were traveling. R' Shapira suggests that the extra hey (the word should have been shuv, and not shuvah, with a hey) represents the five extra letters that Adam now wanted to return to their source Above, so there would be only twenty-two channels of influence, without the five letters of judgment, as before his sin.