The passuk says in parshas shelech lechah (13:3):
וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה מִמִּדְבַּר פָּארָן עַל פִּי ה' כֻּלָּם אֲנָשִׁים רָאשֵׁי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה
Moshe sent them from Midbar Paran according to the instruction of Hashem, they were all men – they were the leaders of the benei yisrael.
"כלם אנשים" - כל אנשים שבמקרא לשון חשיבות ואותה שעה כשרים היו
They were all men – Wherever it says the term ‘anashim’ in the passuk it is an expression of importance; this is used here because at that time they were tzadikim.
The passuk later on in the parsha (13:26) says:
וַיֵּלְכוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל מִדְבַּר פָּארָן קָדֵשָׁה וַיָּשִׁיבוּ אוֹתָם דָּבָר...
They went and they came to Moshe and to Aharon and to all of the people to Midbar Paran to Kadesh and they returned a report to them...
"וילכו ויבואו" - (סוטה לד) מהו וילכו להקיש הליכתן לביאתן מה ביאתן בעצה רעה אף הליכתן בעצה רעה
They went and they came – why does the passuk need to say that they went – this is to compare their going to their coming. Just as when they returned it was with an evil council so too when they went it was with an evil council.
· There would appear to be a contradiction in Rashi. Initially Rashi says that when Moshe sent them they were tzadikim, however the second Rashi says that they went initially with bad intentions? Furthermore, if they were indeed tzadikim initially why did they come to speak lashon hara about Eretz Yisrael?
The yerushalmi says in Sanhedrin (2:6):
תני ר' הושעיה עלה יו"ד ונשתטח לפני הקב"ה ואמר רבון העולמים עקרתני מן הצדקת הזאת. אמר לו הקב"ה צא לך, לשעבר היית נתון בשם נקיבה ובסוף תיבה, חייך שאני נותנך בשם זכר ובראש תיבה. הדא הוא דכתיב ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע
Rebbi Hoshaya taught – the yud that was taken out from Sarah’s name (when her name was changed from Sarai to Sarah) prostrated itself before Hashem and said – Master of the Universe – you have taken me out of the name of this tzadekes! Hashem said to the yud – it is to your benefit! In the past you were in the name of a woman and at the end of the word – by your life I will place you in the name of a man and at the beginning of the word – this is what the passuk says “And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nin – Yehoshua.”
· Why was the yud that was taken from Sarah’s name put into Yehoshua’s name to save him from the council of the meraglim?
Rabbi Yitzchak Eisak Chaver z”l (Ohr Torah) answers as follows:
The passuk says in Yeshaya (26:4):
בִּטְחוּ בַה' עֲדֵי עַד כִּי בְּקָהּ ה' צוּר עוֹלָמִים
Trust in Hashem forever because in k”ah Hashem is the rock of the worlds.
The gemara in Menachos (29b) explains that olam habah was created with a yud and olam hazeh was created with a heh. That is why the passuk says “ki be’kah Hashem” – since the two worlds were created with the Name ka”h.
· Why was olam habah created with a yud and olam hazeh created with a heh?
The Ohr Torah (4:63) explains:
... כי יו"ד התחלת הנקודה והוא במחשבה לבד...עד שבאו לעולם הזה ושם נתגשמו במעשים גופנים... והוא נרמז באות ה׳, ששני קוין של הד׳ הם אורך ורוחב, והקו שבשמאל מרמז על הגובה
The letter yud is a point and so represents something that exists in thought and has not yet been given a physical form. However the heh represents something which has been given a physical form in olam hazeh. The two lines of the daled (which forms the right hand side of the Heh) represent length and width and the line on the left of the heh represents height [thus the heh represents a three-dimensional form given to something in olam hazeh].
Olam habah was created with a yud because the yud, which is a point, represents an idea. Olam hazeh on the other hand was created with a heh because the heh represents the three-dimensional form given to the idea that was formed in olam habah.
Just as when Hashem created the world olam habah was created with a yud and olam hazeh was created with a heh, so too when a person does a mitzvah, the yud represents the thought that precedes the mitzvah and the heh represents the act of performing the mitzvah within olam hazeh.
This is why Sarah had a heh added to her name before she could become the first of the imahos. Sarah already had the pure intentions required to be the first of the imahos. In order to enable her to bear Yitzchak however, Hashem changed the yud - representing her good intentions - into a heh - which represented her ability to effect her thoughts into action. By adding the heh to her name, Hashem gave Sarah the ability to become the mother of Yitzchak.
What was the mistake of the meraglim?
The mishnah says in Yuma (5:2):
מִשֶּׁנִּטַּל הָאָרוֹן, אֶבֶן הָיְתָה שָׁם מִימוֹת נְבִיאִים רִאשׁוֹנִים, וּשְׁתִיָּה הָיְתָה נִקְרֵאת, גְּבוֹהָה מִן הָאָרֶץ שָׁלֹש אֶצְבָּעוֹת, וְעָלֶיהָ הָיָה נוֹתֵן
From the time that the Aron Hakodesh was removed from the kodesh hakedashim the cohen gadol would place the ketores on the even hashesiyah...
The gemara says (Yuma 54b):
ושתיה היתה נקראת: תנא שממנה הושתת העולם...
The reason it was called the even hashesiyah is because the world was founded from it...
Just as when the world was created, Yerushalayim was the place from where the rest of the world spread out, so too now Eretz Yisrael is a place of growth and development whereas all other countries are places to in a constant way.
The meraglim thought that essentially Eretz Yisrael was a country like all other countries (although they understood that ארץ ישראל מקודשת מכל הארצות). Therefore they understood that whatever they saw there was part of the nature of the land. If they saw unconquerable giants and people dying then the nature of the land was that it would be difficult to conquer and that the people there died. They did not understand that Eretz Yisrael has no nature at all and that the characteristics it displays only relate to the plan of Hashem and the way that the benei yisrael keep the Torah when they are in it.
In this way, although the world was created with the shem Hashem of ka”h, olam hazeh with a heh and olam habah with a yud – Eretz Yisrael always maintains an aspect of the original intention of the creation of the world – and therefore relates to the yud as well as to the heh.
Hashem added the yud taken from Sarah back into Yehoshua’s name – so that he would understand that the purpose of the benei yisrael entering Eretz Yisrael was not to acquire a permanent place in the heh of olam hazeh – but rather was for them to maintain a life which would relate both to olam hazeh (the heh) and also to olam habah (the yud).
The meraglim on the other hand took the idea of the heh in Sarah’s name too far. They thought that the benei yisrael were now to acquire a permanent place in olam hazeh – represented by the heh. Therefore although the meraglim were initially tzadikim, because they misunderstood the nature of what they saw they reached the wrong conclusion and spoke lashon hara.