Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Not as Hard as You Think - Shelach Lecha

The portion this week, Shelach Lecha, is one of those that teaches us a positive lesson by means of a negative example. In general, I like to look at stories in the Torah, and I suppose I would like to think I try to look at events in life in this manner. That is, trying to find something positive to take away from a setback or failure; some corollary to the incorrect result that might teach something good anyway. Granted, that's not always easy nor is it the case that just because one might find something beneficial even in a bad experience that anyone else could or should, but I do feel it is worth the effort. So what is it that we learn about in the parshah this week? It is that even a relatively small group of people can have a huge impact on a community. And who makes up this small group of people? In the case of our portion, they are the 10 of the 12 spies who came back with a pessimistic assessment of the Jews' ability to conquer Israel. These ten, despite what Joshua and Caleb, Moses or Aaron try to say or do, are able to convince all the others that the mission that they have been given by God will be impossible to undertake. Now you might say that these ten did not have to do a lot of convincing given who they were talking to. The Jews to this point in the story have not been models of get up and go, can do thinking. So you might be thinking - those ten had it easy to convince the rest of the community not to try. But that is the very point! Here is a giant group of people, 600,000 and potentially even more according to the traditional sources (and even if we're talking hundreds only it is still impressive), and all it takes to push them into a firm decision about what to do - granted the wrong decision, but a firm one nonetheless - is to hear from ten guys that the land is full of giants and they felt like bugs. Sometimes we let ourselves be convinced that getting the right thing done will be too big a task. That convincing others to do the right thing, to change something for the better will be too hard. The spies teach us, again through a negative example, that this need not be the case. They teach us that it may not be hard at all for a tiny group to influence many others to go along with them. Let us try then to not give up and not be challenged by the odds but rather to remember the spies and realize that just as they were able to have a lasting negative impact though small in numbers, we may be able to have the same influence but for the good. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Aaron Benson

No comments:

Post a Comment