Knowing What’s Very Good: Seer of Lublin, Spies, and a Clumsy Husband

Through humility, we can find things that we didn’t know about. Our self-centeredness get in the way of good “vision”

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

Based on a Dvar Torah of Rabbi Eliezer Kwass in the Darche Noam Daf Kesher email

We read in Parsha Shelach that when Joshua and Caleb returned from spying out the Land of Israel that, “The Land is very, very good,” (Bamidbar 14:7). The other ten spies gave a very negative report, and the people were complaining and even calling for them to return to Egypt.

The combination of “very, very”, ” מאד מאד” also appears in Pirkei Avot. Rabbi Levitas of Yavneh said, “מאד מאד הוי שפל רוח – Be very, very humble” (Pirkei Avot 4:4).

Over the ages there were those who linked Yehoshua and Kalev’s “מאד מאד” with Rabbi Levitas’ “מאד מאד.” This literary allusion served as a type of aggadic connection between that Mishnah and this verse. What does it teach us? It connects humility with seeing goodness.

This is best illustrated with a story:

There was a young man was living in the Land of Israel in the 1800s. He approached Rabbi Aharon Moshe of Brod, זצ”ל (1775-1845), a disciple of the Seer “Chozeh” of Lublin (Harav Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, זצ”ל, 1745-1815), who had made aliyah to Yerushalayim in 1839. The young man complained that even though he had been living in the Land of Israel for a number of years, he still did not feel any special holiness or excitement in his service of God. Rabbi Aharon Moshe did not answer him on the spot.

The next morning Rabbi Aharon Moshe said that his Rabbi, the Seer of Lublin, had appeared to him in a dream and said, “Know that until you reach the level of being “very, very humble” you will not be able to sense that the Land is “very, very good.” “ Tuning out arrogance and self-centeredness enables a person to be receptive to the Land of Israel’s inner qualities, its goodness.

This also reminds me of some relationship advice…

Not long ago I was speaking with a couple who were having serious marriage troubles. She had a lot of complaints about her husband, many of which were based on things that actually happened. It was driving her nuts. The husband had very few complaints about her.

Digging a bit deeper it was revealed that she felt that she could have “done better” in marriage. He wasn’t extremely successful, but worked hard and made a living. He had to stay long hours in order to make bring home enough for them and their two children. Meanwhile she also had to work very hard just so they could make ends meet. Life wasn’t easy.

The husband, as it turned out, was totally devoted to her. Though he was anything but perfect – left messes all over the house, forgot appointments, was clumsy — he was earnestly trying to do better. He was also constantly in awe of the two beautiful children that she brought to the world. She was his miracle.

I explained to her that if she continued down this path, the marriage would become more and more unhappy and they would end of leaving each other. She would realize after trying to find another husband, that no one on earth would adore her the way he did. She for

got that her husband overlooked all of her faults and saw how good she was inside. He overlooked the tattoos and scars from her troubled teen years, her insecurities and complicated family dynamics that were less than ideal. He overlooked that and more.

While her husband wasn’t going to be wealthiest man, and made plenty of mistakes, he loved her unconditionally, and was “very, very good.”

Humility leads to seeing the good in others and might just help you strengthen your relationship. If you are single, humility — a modest view of our own importance — may help you find your soulmate.