Torah Reading: Shelach (Numbers 13:1 - 15:41) 
Joshua 2:1 - 24   
Pirkei Avot: Chapter 2 
Shabbat Candle Lighting: 8:10 PM 
Shabbat ends: 9:20 PM 
The Spies
The saga of the newly liberated Jewish people was punctuated with missteps and regression. One such a pivotal event that kept the fledgling nation in the desert for 40 years was the incident of the spies recounted in this week’s parsha.
The Jews approached Moses and demanded of him to send spies to scout the land of Canaan they were about to conquer. When Moses consulted with G‑d, He did not authorize this mission. However, He did allow Moses to use his own discretion in this matter. Moses acceded to their request and sent 12 spies, one for each tribe.
Tragically, 10 of the 12 spies returned with a slanderous report of the land and influenced the entire nation to cry at the prospects of having to leave the security of their desert existence to enter a land that was fraught with great danger and that would be impossible to conquer.
Moses unleashed a powerful rejoinder to their complaints and criticized then harshly. Moses told them that they would all die in the desert and none of those over the age of 20 would live to see the Promised Land.
Immediately after delivering his sharp words of rebuke a group of Jews—known as the Ma’apilim, had a change of heart and offered to go up and conquer the land. Moses urged them not to do it for G‑d was now not with them. They did not listen to Moses and they made an attempt to go to the Land of Israel and they were wiped out by the Amalekites and Canaanites.
Heroes or Villains?
The question is asked why they deserved such a fate. These Ma’apilim appeared to be rather courageous and dedicated to G‑d. They were committed to reverse the rebellious rejection of the Land of Israel by their brethren and were willing to put their lives on the line to conquer the land. Wouldn’t it follow that their desire to risk their lives constituted a powerful form of Teshuvah-repentance. Moreover, the Jerusalem Talmud refers to them as martyrs and Chassidim—pious ones for their desire to go up and conquer the land notwithstanding the great risk. Why then was their repentance not accepted by G‑d?
The simple answer is that G‑d prefers and demands compliance with His will over courageous actions even when those actions are propelled by a desire to do Teshuvah and rectify their previous rebelliousness.
While dying for a cause is a sign of incredible passion for that cause, it is not necessarily a sign of selfless devotion to G‑d. It may actually be a senseless act of suicide or may even derive from a desire to perform a heroic act as an expression of one’s ego. How does one know if the pursuit of martyrdom is a selfless act of devotion? One way of determining the source of one’s martyrdom is to ascertain whether it is consistent with G‑d’s will. To die in G‑d’s name when He asks us to live to serve Him demonstrates that this desire, although a heroic and passionately zealous act, does not derive from one’s total devotion to G‑d.
Hence, when Moses conveyed G‑d’s message to them that they were not to attempt going to the Land of Israel at that time; their challenge was to control both their passion for the Land and their desire to rectify their earlier rebellion. The highest form of repentance for them would have been to reluctantly remain in the desert together with their leader Moses and the rest of the Jewish nation who were not destined to see the land.
“G‑d said that we sinned.”
Another answer, ascribed to the Ba’al Shem Tov, is given as to why their desire to conquer the land was an improper decision:
 If we examine the words they used to express their desire to repent we will find them instructive as to their true sentiments. They said: “We’re ready to go up to  the place which G‑d spoke about for we have sinned.” The original Hebrew allows for a modified rendition: “We’re ready to go up to the place, because G‑d has said that we have sinned.” In this rendition, they did not say, “…for we have sinned,” rather, “G‑d said that we had sinned.”
Why did they emphasize that G‑d said that they had sinned?” The Ba’al Shem Tov answers that by putting the onus on G‑d they were not ready to acknowledge on their own that they did in fact sin. To be sure, they were not denying their guilt. Rather their acceptance of the reality that it was a sin was based solely on G‑d saying so not because they recognized it on their own.
This approach to Teshuvah does not suffice. For Teshuvah in its highest form implies that the person has fundamentally changed. If one acknowledges his mistake only because someone else tells him that it was a mistake, we must conclude that that individual has not fundamentally changed.
For example, if a person committed theft but never recognized it was wrong on his own; that individual cannot claim to have been rehabilitated even if he accepts the assessment of others that it was wrong. For Teshuvah to be complete and enduring one must take full responsibility.
Thus, the Ma’apilim might have been motivated to go up to conquer the land; it was not deemed sufficient Teshuvah because they did not independently recognize the error of their ways.
“Ad Masai-How Much Longer” from the Heart
The above approach was echoed by the Rebbe in his historic talk (28th of Nissan 5751) when he declared that he had done everything in his power to get us to demand the Redemption. But alas, when we shouted “Ad masai-How much longer,” we did so only because we were told to do it. We did it out of a sense of obligation and not out of our contempt for, and desperation at being in, exile. We were not disgusted with exile and its negative effects on us. Thus our desire to ask G‑d to take us out of exile was not really our own sincere desire based on a conclusion that we arrived at ourselves. If we hadn’t been told to plead with G‑d and demand an end of exile, we could have countenanced staying in exile much longer. This, the Rebbe stated was a sign that we were still in our own internal exile.
To get out of exile, we have to get the exile out of us.
Two Avenues
One could perhaps add a third dimension that was missing in the attempts of the “Ma’apilim that carries a lesson for us in our attempts at going up to conquer the land; i.e., the Messianic Age. When we consider the motivation for us to want Redemption, there are actually two sincere motivating forces:
The first is the recognition of the pain, suffering and the prevalence of evil in our midst which results from being in Galus.  The advantage of this approach is that it can easily be instilled within us. However, although sincere and totally legitimate, it is not the ultimate reason we should desire Redemption through the hands of Moshiach.
The second reason we should want and demand Redemption is not the desire to escape the evils of exile but the desire for the positive spiritual experience of the Geulah-Redemption. The Messianic Age is the age when G‑d’s presence will pervade the entire world bringing the world to its intended purpose. There can be no greater joy.
The Ma’apilim, in addition to their lack of sincerity to correct their errant ways, were also lacking in this regard as well. When they adamantly refused to listen to Moses’ command to them not to go up, the Torah states that Moses and the Ark did not go with them.
Why does the Torah have to mention that fact? Isn’t it self-understood that they went on their own so that Moses and the Ark obviously did not go with them?
The answer is that the fact that they were willing to go on their own to the Land of Israel without Moses or the Ark was proof that they did not truly treasure going to Israel. If going to Israel was merely getting away from the desert experience, then their going up would have been adequate. However, going to Israel has value primarily because it is the Land where G‑d’s presence is more pronounced and revealed. How then would it make sense to go without Moses the holiest Jew who channeled G‑d’s presence to the Jewish people? What logic was there in going to the Holy Land without the Ark, which was the very instrument through which G‑d’s expressed His infinite presence?
The lesson for the present day and age is therefore twofold:
First, we must recognize that exile is intolerable and cry out Ad masai not only because we were told to do so but because we have internalized the message. Our cry Ad masai comes from our gut because we recognize how objectionable exile is and we sincerely want out. We are no longer inured by the suffocating vapors of Galus.
Second, we must also focus on the positive reason for getting out of Galus. We should sincerely sing “We want Moshiach now!” We want to be in a place and time when G‑d’s presence is revealed. Thus the Messianic Age is not just independence and prosperity; it is the beginning of a new era of Divine revelation ushered in by the Moses of our generation—Moshiach through the medium of the rebuilt Holy Temple that will once again house the Holy Ark!
Moshiach Matters
Indeed, the Redemption is very close, for the exile is over, and now we are in the throes of labor. This process is identical to the conclusion of the exile in Egypt, for even after the Jews' slavery had almost ended and their redemption had been announced, their bondage intensified even more — but not for long, for immediately afterwards they were redeemed.