Giants Real and False- Parshas Shelach

The concept of ‘giants’ is found in a number of places in Tanach. In שלח we meet the בני ענק, the sons of the giant[1]. Chazal tell us the word ענק means that they shadow the sun with their height[2]. I would like to use their mention in Parshas Shlach to try to understand this idea in a deeper way.

The first mention of giants is at the end of Bereishis. The Pasuk says[3]: The ‘Nefilim’ were in the world in those days, and also later, that the Bnei H’Elokim (sic ‘sons of G-d’) would come to the daughters of man and the daughters would give birth to their children; those are the strong ones, the people of names.

This is quite cryptic and esoteric ad has given rise to many incorrect popular interpretations. The only way to understand such a Pasuk is through the lens of Chazal who can reveal what it correctly means.

The idea of גדול – large is tied to the idea of חסד. As we say is Shemoneh Esreh הגדול הגבור and גדול is referring to Avrohom who exemplifies the trait- midah of Chesed- kindness[4]. The reason that גדול means Chesed is because that is the definition of Chesed. Din-the line of the law is defined by boundaries. Therefore the word דין is from the word די which means enough. Chesed is what is beyond the boundaries. As the Zohar says Who is a chasid someone who does beyond the boundaries with his Master[5]. Therefore Avrohom is the one who went beyond the boundaries of the world as it existed and found Hashem. And Chesed in interpersonal relationships also means seeing beyond yourself.

But every good Midah has a counterpart where it can be misused. Chesed without boundaries is the opposite of Avrohom. This is represented by his son Yishmoel, who is the misapplication of Chesed. He represents Chesed without boundaries, which is licentiousness- Glui Aroyos[6].

Based on this, the ‘giants’ are also an opposite of Avrohom. They are introduced to us as those who saw the daughters of man and desired to be outside their correct boundaries. Therefore it would seem that the ‘giants’ represent those who are without boundaries. The next time we meet a giant, it is Og, the refugee from the battles of the kings who comes to Avrohom to inform him of Lot’s capture[7]. But Rashi teaches us that his actual goal was to cause Avrohom’s death and acquire Sara, Avrohom’s wife. The third giant Gloiath- Golyas is descended from Orpah, the counterpart to Rus[8]. Rus does not go after her desires but marries L’shem Shamayim. Orpah turns her back, and Chazal teach us descends to the depths of depravity[9]. We are taught[10] that he is from the part ofערפה which represents the lack of boundaries. Therefore Golyas is also a giant with no boundaries.

The antithesis of these giants are the true giants of Chesed,Avrohom and David. Avrohom is the midah of Chesed as it is meant to be, and Dovid overcomes the sin of Bat Sheva to be the ultimate Ba’al Teshuva. In addition Og who is finally dispatched by Moshe, also is suspected by the Jewish people to desire their wives, and obviously has no connection to that. But he is the one who provides the sustenance for the Jewish people for forty years in the desert.

That is what is meant that they are מעניק חמה overshadow the sun. The sun represents the source of all life and goodness. They desire to replace that and be the source themselves. That is why they are called מכשפים those who desire to control the world through false spirituality. But actually Avrohom is called the גדול בענקים the greatest of the giants[11]. He is actually the source from which the world exists. The Gemarra teaches us that Avrohom had a gem which would provide each person with healing. When he dies it was placed next to the sun[12]. The Chesed of Avrohom therefore remains forever as the true giant.

Moshe is also described as being ten Amos tall. And even though that height did not suffice to actually be physically taller than Og, he can bring him down and show who is the true giant.

Lastly Dovid brings down Golyas. We are taught at the beginning of Berachos that Dovid’s function as king was to provide livelihood for the Jewish people. That is the greatness of the king to be the source that counteracts the false giants.

That is why the word ענק giant is tied to the word העניק to give a present. That word is found in the special Halacha that you need to give a freed slave a gift to allow him to reestablish himself after being dependent for so many years. This is to give the former slave the ability to stand on his own feet. That is what הענקה is. The ‘giants’ thought they were providing for the world. But actually, those who stand up to them are the real giants. That is Avrohom who provides the world with its connection to a monotheistic God. Moshe who gives us the Torah, and Dovid who establishes the Jewish Kingdom. That is why אליעזר עבד אברהם is עוג.

Calev who goes to the city of Chevron is a very interesting aspect of this. He is considered aגלגול of אליעזר עבד אברהם. But then he goes to חברון the city of the descendants of the ענקים and returns to Avrohom. Avrohom is both an ענק and the ultimate person able to give הענקה. Eliezer we are taught was unable to marry into Avrohom`s family because he is ארור- cursed. Also Eliezer is Og. So first Og tries to replace Avrohom. Then as Eliezer he tries to join Avrohom. That means he is unable to have Bracha, the opposite of Chesed. Only when he realizes that he needs to be עבד אברהם then he becomes ברוך and then Avrohom the ultimate ענק gives him הענקה and he transforms into Calev. Who returns to Avrohom and brings the Jews into Chevron and overcomes the sons of the false ‘giant’.



[1] במדבר פרק יג- (כב) וַיַּעֲלוּ בַנֶּגֶב וַיָּבֹא עַד חֶבְרוֹן וְשָׁם אֲחִימָן שֵׁשַׁי וְתַלְמַי יְלִידֵי הָעֲנָק וְחֶבְרוֹן שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים נִבְנְתָה לִפְנֵי צֹעַן מִצְרָיִם:

[2] סוטה דף לד/ב –  ילידי הענק שמעניקין חמה בקו

[3] בראשית פרק ו – (ד) הַנְּפִלִים הָיוּ בָאָרֶץ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וְגַם אַחֲרֵי כֵן אֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים אֶל בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם וְיָלְדוּ לָהֶם הֵמָּה הַגִּבֹּרִים אֲשֶׁר מֵעוֹלָם אַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם:

[4]  ספר שערי אורה – השער השביעי – הספירה הרביעית – וכשבא אברהם אבינו עליו השלום וצפה והביט וחקר והבין סוד ה’ הגדול יתברך והיאך ברא העולם מצד החסד, עמד גם הוא ואחז המידה הזאת

[5]  זוהר חלק ב דף קיד/ב – ובגין דאת הוית גומל חסד עם שכינתא, דכל פקודין דילך לקיימא איזהו חסיד המתחסד עם קונו, יהב לך מדת חסד

[6] קידושין דף מט/ב – י’ קבים זנות ירדו לעולם תשעה נטלה ערביא

[7] רש”י על בראשית פרק יד פסוק יג – ויבא הפליט – לפי פשוטו זה עוג שפלט מן המלחמה והוא שכתוב כי רק עוג נשאר מיתר הרפאים וזהו נשאר שלא הרגוהו אמרפל וחבריו כשהכו הרפאים בעשתרות קרנים תנחומא ומדרש ב”ר זה עוג שפלט מדור המבול וזהו מיתר הרפאים שנאמר הנפילים היו בארץ וגו’ ומתכוין שיהרג אברם וישא את שרה:

[8]  מדרש זוטא רות פרשה א –  כליון שהוא לשון כלייה נזדווגה לו ערפה שעמד ממנה גלית הפלשתי:

[9] סוטה מב – ערפה רב ושמואל חד אמר הרפה שמה ולמה נקרא שמה ערפה שהכל עורפין אותה מאחריה וחד אמר ערפה שמה ולמה נקרא שמה הרפה שהכל דשין אותה כה

[10]ספר הליקוטים – ספר שופטים – פרק יז

[11] מסכת סופרים פרק אחד ועשרים – (ט) האדם הגדול בענקים (הגדול היה אברהם אבינו גבוה יותר מענק) בענקים זה אברהם

[12] בבא בתרא דף טז/ב –  רבי שמעון בן יוחי אומר אבן טובה היתה תלויה בצוארו של אברהם אבינו שכל חולה הרואה אותו מיד מתרפא ובשעה שנפטר אברהם אבינו מן העולם תלאה הקדוש ברוך הוא בגלגל חמה


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s