Sefer Devarim, the Book of Deuteronomy, offers new insights and perspective.
As the Gra (Vilna Gaon) expounds, the other Four Books of the Torah were G-d speaking directly through Moshe's mouth ("and G-d spoke to Moshe"), whereas in Sefer Devarim, Moshe is speaking after G-d spoke to him ("these are the words which Moshe spoke to all of Israel").
The Parsha of Devarim comes down harder on the Meraglim (Spies) than in Parshat Shelach. There is more of a moral element in both tone and degree.
"You slandered in your tents and said because of Hashem's hatred for us did he take us out of the Land of Egypt." This is not stated in Parshat Shelach. It raises the question as to what was the sin of the Spies?
Obviously it was severe because the entire generation except for Yehoshua and Caleb died in the wilderness. It also has tremendous lessons for today's world. What can we glean from this tragic and catastrophic episode of Bnei Yisrael's existence?
It would be very convenient to say it was simply a lack of Emunah (faith). The Jews of that generation had seen G-d's Hand directly in their lives so it behooved them to have the ultimate level of Emunah. Their very "human" arguments were totally out of place in Moshe's generation of Miracles.
They had seen the parting of the Sea of Reeds and Mount Sinai. How dare they put forward a negative report? Some say it was Giiva (haughtiness) – they wanted to keep their Ministerial Positions in the Desert that they thought they might lose if they entered Eretz Yisrael.
We can certainly take home a message here about our present day Ministers of Israel who will do anything to stay in power. I will discuss this more later.
There are a group of commentators, such as Malbim, who say the Meraglim were Tzaddikim (righteous). They did not want to leave the Desert where G-d's Shechina (presence) accompanied them at all times. Their mistake was that they did not recognize G-d's plan. G-d wanted them to enter Eretz Yisrael.
Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Leib Grossman told me that their sin was "fear." They were afraid to leave the womb of the Desert with G-d's embrace and protection. Fear is a lack of Emunah but it is a raw emotion. Just as a baby cries upon entry into this world the Meraglim cried when they were exposed to a New World.
It was not a rational process but an emotional one filled with fear. Fear is behind most sins. Fear of failure. Fear of change. Fear of a vacuum. Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have said it best when he said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
The Meraglim were Tzaddikim who let fear overtake them. Fear also played a role in the Jews making the Golden Calf. Without Moshe the Jews became fearful. fear has always led to our downfall. The Greatness of the State of Israel today is that fear has taken a back seat.
Fear has been replaced with the Spirit of Yehoshua and Caleb. Bravery, strength, and Emunah have replaced fear. The Iranians will soon find out the power of G-d's Jewish People. Iran will not bring fear upon our people.
In answer to the question of whether the Meraglim were Tzaddikim or Reshaim (wicked), the Gemara Yerushalmi brings an argument between Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Akiva as to how many Spies there were. Rabbi Yishmael says there were 12. Rabbi Akiva says there were 24 (hence the double language of "Ish Echad Ish Echad Limatei Avotav").
The Ari explains that Rabbi Akiva is talking about Yosef's Brother's Souls who Yosef called Meraglim (Spies). In reference to the Spies of Parshat Shelach and Devarim the word "Meraglim" is not used. The expression "Latur (to search) Et Eretz Canaan" is used instead.
Yosef's use of the word Meraglim was an omen(Nevuah) of things to come. The Souls of Yosef's Brothers were transferred to the Meraglim of the Desert Generation. Hence Rabbi Akiva's number of 24 Spies. This would also explain how on one hand the Spies were called Reshaim and at the same time Tzaddikim.
Many Politicians start out very idealistic. The Spies also started out this way. They were Tzaddikim. Events often corrupt the best of Politicians.
I remember only too well how Gonen Segev and Alex Goldfarb of the Tzomet Pary (ideologically to the right of Likud – stating "not one Inch") sold out to the Left to enable a 61-59 victory for the Oslo II Peace agreement which has killed more Jews than any of Israel's Wars. There are many lessons to be learned from our mistakes. I hope this Dvar Torah I'YH helps prevent any and all in the future.