Parashat Shelach discusses the incident of the Meraglim. We see that one of the spies, Kalev Ben Yefuneh, opposed the evil plot of the other Meraglim. It is clear that Hashem considered this a great deed, as the Pasuk states, “VeAvdi Kalev Ekev Haytah Ruach Acheret Imo VaYimalei Acharai VaHaviotiv El HaAretz Asher Ba Shamah VeZar’o Yorishenah,” “But My servant Kalev, because a different spirit was with him and he followed me wholeheartedly, I shall bring him to the Land to which he came, and his offspring shall inherit it” (BeMidbar 14:24). One would not assume that his deed was really this noteworthy because, ultimately, he accomplished nothing by opposing the other spies. Although his intention was excellent, his reward should not have been so incredible, since it was for an action that was ultimately of no avail. We learn from this that a person must always act in defense of Kevod Shamayim even if his deed will not accomplish what he intended. Because of such an act, other people might become inspired.
Rav Mosheh Feinstein, in his Sefer Darash Mosheh, suggests that Kalev’s words did help. The problem was that after he spoke, the Meraglim continued their slander against Eretz Yisrael and reinforced it. Yet after Kalev insisted that the Meraglim’s complaints were unjustified, the Meraglim responded that B’nei Yisrael would be unable to overpower the people of Cana’an. Through Kalev’s strategy their earlier statements about the poor quality of Eretz Yisrael were refuted, and they had to begin a new argument in order to entice the people to believe what they had reported. In theory, Kalev’s words did help; however, the relief was temporary, so B’nei Yisrael’s Teshuvah was short-lived. From this we learn that just as the Halachah rules that we must save a person’s life even if he will live only a short time, and we must desecrate Shabbat in order to do so, a short spiritual life is also important. Although one can influence others to abandon their bad deeds, like Lashon HaRa or Chutzpa only for a short time, it is still an important and amazing accomplishment.