What does it take to have faith? According to Dictionary.com, you need to be a little bit… detached from reality.
Here is how it defines faith:
“Strong belief in G-d or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” No wonder why when someone does something that is not entirely rational, we say that he took a “leap of faith.” The word faith seems destined to live in the realm of no logic and wishful thinking.
But: is that so? I’d argue that having faith is actually very much connected to reality. And in fact, the more we are in touch with reality, the more faith we will have.
Let’s give a look at the story of the twelve spies. Just before the Jews were about to enter Israel, Moshe sent 12 spies. They traveled undercover, looking around and collecting data on the lifestyle and military abilities of the Canaanites. When they came back, 10 out of 12 were a no-go.
They spoke about the strong people and the impenetrable cities. They were deeply concerned about possible diseases plaguing the land. Going into Israel, they concluded, was not a good idea.
You probably know the rest of the story:
- The Jewish people were convinced and rebelled against Moshe.
- G-d declared they would stay in the desert for 40 years before entering Israel.
- The 10 spies were punished.
Now, let me ask you: why? After all, their report was pretty accurate. It didn’t include any fake stories or inaccurate information. Is that a reason for punishment The answer can be found with the remaining two spies, Caleb and Yehoshua. They witnessed the same facts yet arrived at a very different conclusion. “We can surely go up and take possession of it [the land], for we can indeed overcome it!'”
…”The land we passed through to scout is an exceedingly good land; If the Lord desires us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey.” And Rashi provides an additional detail said by Caleb:
“Didn’t he [Moshe] split the sea for us, bring down the manna for us, and cause the quails to fly down to us?” Facts don’t change. But the story that comes with them makes all the difference. The 10 spies focused on the current challenges, and they described them accurately. On the other hand, Caleb reminded them to look at the entire story.
If their lives up to this point were filled with miracles, they could expect more miracles to follow. If they witnessed the loving hand of G-d every step since they left Egypt, they could be sure that he would not abandon them at this critical juncture of their lives.
Essentially, Caleb was telling his colleagues: you guys claim to be practical and realistic, but you are the ones detached from reality! Because an honest review of everything that happened up to this point will lead us to a simple conclusion: we are going to be okay.
Yes, the Canaanites have a strong army and superb fortresses. And no, I don’t know how we will win the battle. But I know that Moshe had performed incredible miracles up to this point, so I know he is a reliable leader carrying the word of G-d.
Once, someone wrote to the Rebbe about a difficulty he was facing. The writer was desperate and lacked any hope that his situation would improve. The Rebbe gently suggested he should review his life up to that point. You have experienced so many miracles, wrote the Rebbe. Your life has been filled with blessings, so surely you can trust that G-d will be with you now.
I believe that this is true for all of us. We just need to spend some time thinking about it. Thinking about all of the past challenges that, although they seemed impassable at the time, we somehow figured it out. Thinking about the gifts in our lives. Just because we are used to them, these are still real miracles!
Faith will no longer be a farfetched idea when we think about it. It would be a natural and logical conclusion.