This week’s Torah portion is about a mistake our nation made in the past. We were set to head into Eretz Yisroel just a short span of time after leaving slavery. And we got cold feet. As a stalling tactic, we asked for scouts to go check out what was going on in the Holy Land.
G-d lets us go this route. The Parsha begins with the words “Shlach Lecha” send for yourself. G-d tells Moshe that He allows it – but it is not for His will. Lecha – for yourself. When we try to figure out what is good for own selves instead of sticking to the exact G-d plan, often He allows us that freedom. “Go for yourself,” He says. Head down that path. Bechira – we have free choice. G-d allows us to take the roads we shouldn’t But the end result is never good when we do so.
Klee Yakar, however, reads the words Shelach Lecha a bit differently. He says, Shelach Lecha Anashim – You, Moshe, pick the anashim – important, good people. And I quote “because most of the world is mistaken” in who is a good person and think that the people “who pretend and show off themselves as keshairim-kosher/good people and dress themselves” in clothing that makes them look like good people only to fool others. In Yiddish there is a phrase “tzaddik in der peltz” a person who pretends to be a holy roller by putting on the same types of clothing that the righteous wear. These are the folks to be very wary of. The folks who think outside dress will make them a good person and that they can fool the whole world by having all the trappings of piety with none of the deeds.
However, it is hard to discern who is real and who is a fake. That is why Hashem told Moshe not to let the nation decide who was good enough to go as a spy, but Moshe himself was to be the person who could separate the real good people from the fakers and pick the scouts.was to choose who would go.
Unfortunately, even though those guys who were chosen were perhaps once good, they did not live up to their task and stumbled into sin. Ad Yom Moso — a person is not a good person until he is on his deathbed, for even if today he is still not a faker, tomorrow he might mess up BIG TIME.
So, my friends, careful not to judge piety by levush, by outside appearances. It doesn’t mean a person is special just because they adorn themselves as a pious person. And even when a person is a special person, each person can fall. Careful who you hearken to, careful who you let persuade you. The moment a person tries to talk you away from a G-d centric life and outlook, that person is no longer someone you ought to be listening to — irrespective of his dress, irrespective of how high and holy he might have been yesterday. Living a Torah life requires us to keep our inner compass set on “true G-d” direction.