Jackie Mason, the famous comedian used to say, "Jews always need a place to have a discussion." In order for there to be clear and logical examination of and answers to the important questions of life. Discussion and debate are necessary parts of the process of discovery. This type of questioning and debate is also featured in this week’s Torah portion.
Moses had sent twelve spies to scout out the Promised Land. They returned with conflicting reports. Of the twelve spies, ten were negative and returned grumbling about fortified cities and giants in the land who would surely spell defeat to this fledgling nation. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, differed in their opinion and interpretation. Thus, it was the minority versus the majority opinion. Now, how did Moses decide who was right? The answer goes beyond the facts and in reality—it really has to do with God’s will and purpose. If the people trusted in God and his plan compared to looking at their own abilities and estimates of the current Holy Land inhabitants, then perhaps the results might have been different. The report from the majority had a perspective which was based on lack of belief in God’s power, even though it might be factually accurate. The difference between the dissenting reports could be compared to a report from the BBC or CNN.
We learn the important lesson this week that anything we say is according to our understanding and our eyes. Because of this, there are sometimes very serious consequences to our own interpretations of our surroundings. The spies demonstrate not just a lack of faith, but lack of leadership as well. One of the biblical commentators said that the spies assumed that after conquering the Holy Land and mixing between the tribes, there would no longer be a need to keep them as the leaders. In their eyes, it was not so much what was good for the people, but they were looking out for their own welfare, their own personal goals. An entire generation paid the price for their sin. An important lesson for the generations to come is not to just appreciate God’s gift, but to also to be very cautious, or careful before we pass judgment. Our prayer is that we learn to appreciate this blessing that God gave us—the Holy Land. Let us all look at the positive that comes from the divine miracle that resulted in the reconstituting of Israel in 1948 and its survival ever since, due to the Almighty and his eternal plans. Amen.