There are certain stories in the Torah that are difficult to understand. One instance is found in our Parsha, Shlach.
Moshe sends twelve spies to scout out Israel, in anticipation of the upcoming conquest of the land. Upon their return to the Jewish camp, ten of the spies claim that we will not be able to conquer the land. The people lose faith, and they are punished to wander in the desert for forty years.
Now, this story does not add up with what the people experienced up until this point. They have witnessed the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, and the giving of the Torah. Throughout the sojourn in the desert, manna falls daily from heaven and the well of Miriam supplies water. The clouds of glory protect the people from the harsh desert. Their daily lives were an experience of G-dliness and miracles. How could the spies, surrounded by constant miracles, assume that the conquest of Israel is unattainable? And how can the Jews lose faith in G-d so quickly?
Put it this way: if we were in their shoes, wouldn’t we have avoided this mistake?
Well, let’s look into our lives. We all have deep faith in G-d; we know that He is in charge of the world, and decides what will happen to us in life.
Yet, when we are faced with important life decisions, we may get nervous and lose our cool. This can happen when choosing a soulmate, a job, or a home. We tend to second guess ourselves, questioning if we are making the right decision.
Why is it that an individual who displays firm belief in G-d can have such a hard time making these decisions?
The difference is obvious. When we have no say in the matter, we trust that it comes from G-d. That which is inevitable must be part of G-d’s plan. However, when we are involved in the decision process, things look different. Maybe I am interfering with G-d’s plan? Maybe my involvement will mess things up? When it is my actions, it does not feel like it is foreordained by G-d.
This was the concern of the spies. As long as they were in the desert, they recognized that all was happening according to G-d’s plan. They were living the miracle, and put their faith in G-d. However, once they will enter Israel, and would have to start mapping their own fate, they worried, maybe their conduct will not be aligned with G-d’s plan. The burden of responsibility for their actions weighed heavily on them, and they came to the conclusion that they’d ultimately fail.
There is a saying attributed to the fourth Rebbe of Chabad, who stated that earning a livelihood is similar to the manna from heaven.
Although it may feel as though we are running the show, it is merely a tool that G-d uses to bestow His blessings upon us. What is up to us is our trust in G-d. When we have that, we create a proper receptacle for His blessings, which, together with proper planning and work, combine to produce the proper results.
The lesson to take from this story is to have confidence in our actions. G-d operates through us, and we ought to have confidence in Him. Our decision is aligned with G-d’s master plan.
Dedicated in honor of Chana Leah Bas Miriam for good health, Yiddishe-Chassidshe Nachas and success in everything.