Saturday, June 9, 2018

Torah Thoughts on Shelach Lecha


As the Israelites make their way through the wilderness, Moses sends out twelve spies, one from each tribe, to scout out the land of Canaan.  When they return, the report is at first reasonable – it is a good land but well-defended, and the inhabitants are strong and it will require an effort to overcome them.  But as they speak, ten of the twelve lose faith and begin to exaggerate the situation.  “They were so big, we looked like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we must have looked to them”, they report.  The people panic, and the two good spies, Joshua and Caleb, cannot convince them to give up their fear and go about the task that God has given them.   Midrash Tanhuma (Shelach §7) adds a commentary to the text.  God says to the evil spies, “You looked like grasshoppers in your own eyes; that I can forgive.  But how do you know how you looked in their eyes?  Perhaps I made you appear like angels to them!” 

I think it is good for us to be reminded that the way we feel about ourselves does not necessarily correspond to the way we are seen by others.  We may feel inadequate, but to our loved ones, we are precious, as they are to us.  Perhaps we did something kind for someone a long time ago which we may have forgotten, but they never have.  We are made in God’s image, so each one of us is a reflection of God, and to others, we may well appear like angels.