The ONLY way to succeed

The Bible is not a history book. That is why many things in the Bible are not necessarily presented in chronological order. In Hebrew, the word for Bible, Torah, comes from the etymological root, which means “teachings and lessons.”

The stories and instructions in the Bible, even the order in which things are presented, are a teaching and a guide, for all times and all places, directly from an eternal God.

Now, although the stories as they are written happened in the literal sense, precisely as they are written in the book, there is always a lesson from every story for everyone.

That is why, for example, the Ten Commandments are written in the singular tense. God talks to each one of us individually. The law is dependent on each person. That is why, when God created the world, He made only one person, Adam. The world as a whole is here for the accomplishments of each person.

In this context, what are the lessons we can derive from the story of the spies?

Moses sends 12 spies to check out the land of Israel to see where the weak spots are and the best way to conquer the land. The spies return, and 10 out of the 12 report, “The land devours its people. There are giants over there. We felt in our own eyes like grasshoppers before those people.”

Although two spies, Joshua and Caleb, tried to persuade the Jewish people that if God desired us to enter, we would undoubtedly overcome whatever stood in our way, the Israelites were not convinced and harbored doubts.

They were afraid and complained to God, “If only we died here in the wilderness, we would be better off!”

There is an expression, “in the way a person truly wants to pursue (GOD) will lead him/her.” God responds by giving the spies precisely what they wanted. They died, together with that entire generation, in the wilderness.

Israel represents that small portion of land where holiness and awareness of God are apparent. The land is a “very, very good land,” a land where the connection to God is directRabbi Shimon Bar Yochai teaches, “God measured all the lands in the world, and did not find any land more appropriate and suitable for the Jewish people than the land of Israel.”

Israel in each of our lives (since everything in the macro-world can be found in the micro-world) represents the space explicitly granted to us all, personalized for our unique purpose in this world. It is the place where you find yourself today, right now. You are, wherever you find yourself, because that is exactly where God has given you the power and strength to turn into your own unique, spiritual Israel.

The spies felt that although there were so many miracles God had already demonstrated in the past, for this next phase, things were perhaps changing. They thought of themselves like small grasshoppers. They felt that one could not rely on the stories of the past for knowledge of the future. Perhaps the Divine influence and the miracles, the so many unexpected positive turns of events in the past, would no longer happen for them, again.

Sometimes, when we reflect on the impending challenges, we say to ourselves that they are too overwhelming. Instead of forging onward, using our heads in complete trust and faith in the mission God has given each of us to fulfill, remembering the many times in the past we miraculously overcame our challenges, we use our heads to consider all the reasons not to proceed on. We conclude that we do not have the strength.

“In the direction a person wants to go, the person is lead.” If you are afraid to take on the challenge, you will die in the wilderness. If you think you are small, you will undoubtedly fail.

When you however discover and listen to the small voice that tells you, “Believe, have faith, the land is very good,” you will succeed against all odds.

Only the two spies of that entire generation made it into the land of Israel. They attained what they believed in, and so can anyone who learns from their example.

Chapter 104

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" Rabbi Ezagui opened in 1987 the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the Island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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