This week’s Parasha contains the infamous story of the spies, 10/12 of whom bring back a report that doubts that God’s people will be able to conquer the land. That report and the people’s reaction has tragic consequences—40 years’ worth. The spies are criticized for projecting their own insecurities on others. “We looked like grasshoppers to ourselves and so we must have looked to them.” Bamidbar 13:31. How many potentially great ideas are never implemented because of self-doubt and fear of failure? How often do we not act or speak for fear of what others might think, say or do?
Could it be that these great people, the chieftains of their tribes, really did not have faith that the God who delivered them from Egypt could not or would not deliver the Land of Israel? Thus, others criticize the spies saying that the spies had a conflict of interest that colored their views. After all, the chieftains were in positions of power, living a pretty wonderful life in which everything was provided to them. Once in the Promised Land, the manna would cease falling and the work of conquering and settling the land would begin. Perhaps they did not want to give up the miraculous life of the wilderness. Perhaps they feared taking the next step. Theirs was the sin of complacency and it cost them dearly.
Either lesson is applicable today. We must believe in ourselves, have faith in God, not be swayed by the negativity of others and not let the insecurities or jealousies of others hold us back from realizing our potentials, doing the right thing and fulfilling our destinies.
Our guide through the complexities of the Torah this Shabbat will be Ruth Bergman who will help us examine what the sins of the spies truly were. The text is anything but clear on this point, but the punishment most certainly is.
If you come to spy on the Torah study, not only will you be welcomed, but a good report is guaranteed. 10:00 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.