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“I Can't Believe it!”

By: Mrs Michal Porat-Zibman

This week’s parshah begins with the sending of the leaders of the nation to the land of Israel to scout it out, and continues with its devastating and tragic result. The story itself is told in great detail. But when does the sin actually take place? A good way to find the moment of sin would be to look for where the crying begins – when do they feel no other choice but to despair? When was it that they truly gave up hope?

Interestingly enough, it isn't where we would expect it. Perhaps we would think that a description of the fortified cities and the difficult battle that would be waged would be a reason to despair ( 13:28) – but it wasn’t. Maybe the mention of Bnei Yisrael’s arch-enemy, Amalek, or the description of the other powerful nations, would be a reason to cry (13:29). Or maybe the phrase which is one of the scariest, “eretz ochelet yoshveha” (13:32), “a Land which swallows up its inhabitants,” would do it for them? But it wasn't that moment either.

At what point did the nation despair? At what point did they cry the cry that G-d calls “bechi shel chinam,” “crying for nothing”? In pasuk 32: “Vanehi be-eineinu ka-chagavim, ve-ken hayinu be-eineihem" – “We were, in our own eyes, like grasshoppers; and so were we in their eyes as well,” immediately followed in the next pasuk by, “The nation lifted their voices and cried out.” It wasn't the enemy, the land, or the powerful armies that scared them. It was when they underestimated themselves, when they lost faith in themselves. It was when they felt that the enemy viewed them as they viewed themselves, as insignificant as grasshoppers, as nothing.

As a nation, Bnei Yisrael could handle every other challenge that they were to encounter. They could knock down the fortified walls, conquer the enemy, even survive the “eretz ochelet yoshveha.” They could not go on, however, if they lost faith in themselves, if they didn’t believe in their own ability. And that is when they cried, that is when their downfall began.

The downfall of Bnei Yisrael at this point is a challenge that has been echoed in the lives of our people since time immemorial. Today, in the State of Israel, we are in the midst of a long, difficult, and painful battle, one which has already cost us so much. Yet, if we lose faith in our army, in our nation , in ourselves, then we’ve committed the same crime that the generation of the meraglim did.

We must continue to have faith in Hashem that He will grant us the ko’ach to have faith in our Army, our government, and our nation, that we can withstand the many challenges ahead.

In addition to this emunah we have in ourselves on a national level, there is also emunah in ourselves on a personal level. In our own lives, we each have challenges and obstacles which confront us. They confront us in our Avodat Hashem, in our dedication to Torah and Mitzvot, in every aspect of our religious lives. Often, the reaction of the society around us to our actions causes us to question and rethink that to which we are committed. As the summer begins to descend upon us, let us use these months as a time to reaffirm our connection and commitment to that which we hold dear to ourselves, to that which we want our lives and the lives of our families to be committed. Let us look at the story in this week’s parshah as a warning to us not to underestimate ourselves, our mission, our goals, and the pursuit of our destiny. Let us derive strength from Yehoshua and Kalev, who were able to withstand the negative pressure and shout out, “alo na’aleh, ki yachol nuchal la!” “Let us go and do it, for we can!” May G-d give us the strength and the faith to echo the cries of Yehoshua and Kalev, and not those of Bnei Yisrael.

Shabbat Shalom,





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