QUESTION: The Gemara expounds the verse, "And they went, and they returned" (Bamidbar 13:26), and says that "just as the Meraglim returned with evil plans, when they departed they already had evil intentions." This is also evident from the Gemara earlier (34b) which says that the names of the Meraglim (which the Torah lists) hint to the evil intentions they had before they departed.
RASHI on the Chumash (Bamidbar 13:3), however, explains that when the Meraglim were chosen, the verse says that they were all "Anashim," which means that they were esteemed people and were righteous at the time.
How can Rashi's explanation be reconciled with the Gemara which says that they were evil from the outset?
ANSWERS: The OR HA'CHAIM suggests a number of answers to this question.
(a) The verse (Bamidbar 13:2) says that Hash-m told Moshe Rabeinu, "Send men for you" ("Shelach Lecha Anashim"), implying that the Meraglim were "Anashim" only in the eyes of Moshe Rabeinu but not in the eyes of Hash-m. Hash-m saw deep in their hearts that they were not really the Tzadikim that Moshe Rabeinu thought they were. (See also KLI YAKAR.)
(b) The Or ha'Chaim suggests further that when Hash-m said, "Send men for you," He meant that only while they were standing in front of Moshe Rabeinu were they Tzadikim. The moment they departed they became Resha'im. That is why their names allude to their sin.
The Or ha'Chaim explains why the Meraglim changed so drastically. There is a principle that "Shali'ach Shel Adam Kemoso," the Shali'ach of a person is like the sender. The Mishnah in Berachos (34a) states that if a Shali'ach Tzibur makes a mistake while he leads the Tzibur in prayer, it is a bad sign for the Tzibur on whose behalf he prays. This is because what the Shali'ach does is influenced by the traits of the person who sent him. Therefore, if he makes a mistake, it is because the person who sent him was not deserving, and not because of the Shali'ach's own lack of merits. Hash-m told Moshe Rabeinu that he should be the one to send the Meraglim, since Moshe Rabeinu had proper intentions for sending Meraglim to Eretz Yisrael. (He sought to encourage the people by showing them the splendor of Eretz Yisrael.) However, the rest of the nation had evil intentions when they asked that Meraglim be sent (Rashi to Devarim 1:22). The nation was afraid of war. The Meraglim went as emissaries of the nation and not as emissaries of Moshe Rabeinu, and therefore they were influenced by the evil intentions of the nation, and thus they became corrupt themselves as soon as they accepted the Shelichus of the people. (See also MAHARAL in Gur Aryeh, Parshas Shelach.)
QUESTION: David ha'Melech was punished for calling Divrei Torah "Zemiros," songs (Tehilim 119:54). Hash-m said to him, "Divrei Torah can be forgotten in the blink of an eye (Mishlei 23:5), and you are calling them 'Zemiros' (that are treated lightly, without concentration)!" Hash-m caused him to forget an explicit verse as punishment for treating Divrei Torah like Zemiros.
This statements seems to contradict the Gemara in Eruvin (18b) which teaches that every home in which Divrei Torah are heard at night will not be destroyed. The Gemara derives this from the verse, "He does not say, 'Where is Hash-m, my Maker, Who gives songs in the night'" (Iyov 35:10). "Songs" refer to Divrei Torah, and the verse means, "Whoever learns Torah during the night will not have to ask, 'Where is Hash-m [Who could have saved my house from being destroyed]?'" Why does the Gemara there call Divrei Torah "songs" if one is prohibited to treat Divrei Torah like Zemiros?
Divrei Torah are compared to songs in other places as well. The Gemara in Megilah (32a) teaches that one should sing the words of Torah that he learns, and that it is improper for one to learn Torah without a melody ("ha'Shoneh b'Lo Zimrah").
Similarly, the Gemara in Sanhedrin (99b) quotes Rebbi Akiva who teaches, "Zamer b'Chol Yom." RASHI there explains that this means that a person should constantly review what he has learned, like one who sings a song repetitively. (See also Chagigah 12b, Nedarim 38a, Eruvin 21b (on the verse "Shiro Chamishah v'Elef," Melachim I 5:12), and Chulin 133a (on the verse "Shar b'Shirim Al Lev Ra," Mishlei 25:20).
How can the Gemara in all of these places refer to Divrei Torah as "songs" when the Gemara here in Sotah explicitly says that one is prohibited to do so?
(a) The MAHARSHA in Eruvin (18b) answers that the verse cited there refers to one who learns Torah during the quiet of the night, when he can be heard from a distance (see Rashi there). In this regard, Divrei Torah learned at night may be compared to Zemiros since they can be heard from a distance, just as Zemiros can be heard from a distance. In contrast, Torah learned during the day should not be compared to Zemiros. (Similarly, the Gemara in Chagigah 12b refers only to Torah learned at night. However, the Gemara in Nedarim refers to the Torah in general when it calls it a "Shirah," and not only to Torah learned at night.)
(b) David ha'Melech was criticized for calling Divrei Torah "Zemiros," because calling the Torah "song" implies that the Torah flows easily from the lips without concentration and constant effort. In order to truly acquire Divrei Torah, a person must put great effort into learning Torah.
The criticism of David ha'Melech is appropriate with regard to one who learns Torah Lishmah. For one who does not learn Torah Lishmah, but merely in order to reach a particular goal, the Torah indeed is comparable to "Zemiros" and it does not become a part of the person.
The Gemara in Eruvin may mean that even Torah which is learned at night in order that it be heard from a distance (to acquire honor) also protects one's home from harm. The Gemara in Chagigah, which says that a person who learns Divrei Torah at night merits to have a "Chut Shel Chesed" during the day, may refer to a person who learns Torah even she'Lo Lishmah. (See the Gemara earlier in Sotah (21a) which says that even Torah she'Lo Lishmah protects a person from suffering, both in Olam ha'Zeh and in Olam ha'Ba, and see Insights there.)
The Gemara in Nedarim discusses the verse (Devarim 31:19) in which Hash-m commands Moshe Rabeinu to teach the "Shirah," the Torah, to the Jewish people so that the Torah they learn will be testimony for them that they will be punished if they transgress the Torah. The Gemara there may also refer to learning Torah she'Lo Lishmah, learning Torah in order to receive reward and avoid punishment. David ha'Melech, who found in the joy of learning Torah comfort during times of suffering (see Rashi), learned Torah Lishmah, and therefore he should not have described his Divrei Torah as "Zemiros." (M. KORNFELD)
(c) Alternatively, perhaps one is permitted to refer to Divrei Torah as "songs" with regard to reviewing what one has already learned. Review involves merely saying over the Divrei Torah repetitively without great concentration. In contrast, Torah that is learned in-depth with deep concentration may not be referred to as "songs."
Rebbi Akiva in Sanhedrin exhorts a person to review his studies constantly, with Zemer (Rashi DH Zamer). The Gemara in Megilah is also describing a person who reviews his learning ("ha'Shoneh"). Similarly, the Gemara in Eruvin that discusses learning at night refers to a person who reviews at night that which he learned during the day. Since it is more difficult to concentrate at night (see Sanhedrin 34b, regarding the law that Beis Din convenes only during the daytime), the night is normally designated for reviewing what one learned during the day. When David ha'Melech was criticized for referring to Torah as "Zemiros," it was because of his statement that in-depth study of the Torah provided him with solace during his times of exile, like songs that provide solace. Since he was referring to in-depth study, he should not have referred to the Torah as "Zemiros." (-Based on teachings heard from ha'Ga'on Rav Moshe Shapiro, shlit'a.)
However, the other places which refer to Torah as "song" (Nedarim 38a, Chagigah 12b, Chulin 133a) do not seem to refer specifically to the act of reviewing that which one has learned. They seem to be calling the Torah itself "Shirah."
(d) The DIVREI SHALOM (5:62, see also 5:63-67) suggests, based on the words of the MAHARAL (Sanhedrin 101a), that although calling the Torah a "Zimrah" is disrespectful, calling the Torah a "Shirah" is not. A Zimrah is a lighthearted tune, such as the tune a person hums to himself when he is in a merry mood. A Shirah, though, refers to a musical composition which requires great talent and concentration to compose or perform. Referring to the Torah as "Zimrah" is disrespectful and misleading as it implies that it is not necessary to concentrate on Torah. (See also Insights to Eruvin 18:4 and Sanhedrin 99:2.)
This approach, however, does not answer the question from the Gemara in Eruvin which says that the verse, "... Who gives Zemiros at night," refers to a person who learns Torah at night. Perhaps a simple answer may be suggested to explain why it is acceptable to refer to Divrei Torah as "Zemiros" in this context. The verse in Iyov does not refer to the Torah itself as Zemiros, but rather it refers to the person who learns Torah as one who sings Zemiros (consistent with the way that one is supposed to learn Torah, according to the Gemara in Megilah 32a). It is inappropriate only to refer to the Torah itself as "Zemiros," but not to the person who learns Torah as "one who sings." (M. KORNFELD)