For many of us, a significant chunk of time is spent worrying.
Sometimes we worry about the mundane and the frivolous, but mostly our worries are very real and, at least in our minds, appear to be legitimate and concrete.
We worry about the short term, about the future of our jobs and how we will be able to keep up with our bills. We fret about the long term as well, how we will be able to marry off our children and what type of shidduchim they will find. In many cases our concerns drive us to make conclusions and even take steps that we may later regret.
But should we really worry?
In this week’s parashah we encounter one of the most shocking episodes in the Torah.
Ten honorable and praiseworthy men, handpicked by Moshe Rabbeinu, were sent on a very specific spy mission.
They were to ascertain whether Eretz Canaan was a land that produced mighty people or weak ones. Did the inhabitants live in fortified, walled cities or did they live fearlessly in the open? Also, was it a productive land that fostered population growth? Were there springs and deep wells there? And most important of all, was there a tzaddik living among the inhabitants whose merit could protect them from being conquered?
The spies found a well-populated land, where fruits grew that were many times larger than any they had seen before. They also encountered the nephilim, giant men who literally towered over them.
They saw, and grew frightened. They interpreted what they saw to be insurmountable barriers to acquiring the Land. Because of the might of the people living there, they assumed that they could never conquer it.
Upon their return, ten of the twelve rendered a bleak and discouraging report, and even the Sanhedrin — the great men who had been chosen as judges — wept bitterly and along with most of Bnei Yisrael declared, “Would that we had died in Egypt!”
To this very day we still endure the ill effects of that weeping. For that day was Tishah B’Av, and Hakadosh Baruch Hu said to them: “You have wept without cause; therefore, I will set [this day] for weeping throughout the generations.”
Yet, what precisely was their sin?
One approach is that their grave error was misunderstanding the intent of their mission. Moshe Rabbeinu did not mean that they should report on the strength of the Canaanites and the viability of their defenses. Hashem had promised Bnei Yisrael this land, and He would conquer it on their behalf, so it really made no difference whether they were many or few, whether they were mighty or weak.
Rather, Moshe Rabbeinu wanted them to see how it was land filled with blessing, a land with enormous potential for growth and great prosperity.
They should have merely reported what they saw — and not added their own misleading interpretations.
* * *
Part of their report was their statement: “We were like grasshoppers in our eyes, and so we were in their eyes.”
The Midrash states about this passuk, “Who said that you weren’t angels in their eyes?”
At first glance, this seems perplexing.
After all, they themselves overheard the nephilim declaring, “There are ants in the vineyards [which have the appearance of] men.”
The Sfas Emes gives a very illuminating explanation:
It was their lack of bitachon that caused them to feel like grasshoppers relative to the might of the local population, and because “We were like grasshoppers in our eyes,” therefore “so we were in their eyes.”
If they had exhibited emunah and bitachon in Hashem, they would have been seen in the eyes of the nephilim as malachim.
* * *
Days after he was engaged to be married, an orphaned Holocaust survivor poured out his heart to the Kopyczynitzer Rebbe, Harav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel, zy”a.
“I earn a very small salary, and I am supporting my mother. I don’t know how I undertook to get married. I have no money for the chasunah, nor money with which to also support a wife.”
In a voice filled with caring, and genuine ahavas Yisrael, the Rebbe gave him a firm reply:
“You are not lacking parnassah. Hashem gives parnassah. You are lacking bitachon!”
We have no inkling of the greatness of the Bnei Yisrael of the Dor De’ah, and certainly the episode of the meraglim is beyond the scope of our understanding.
But let us learn from this tragic story and make sure not to look at the world through the limited, obscured lenses of human ability.
The child of a generous billionaire father never frets about parnassah. Everything in the world belongs to our Father, Who sustains each living creature in His infinite kindness. He is the One Who decides who shall marry whom, and He provides the funds to pay for the weddings.
Instead of engaging in counterproductive worrying, let us fill our hearts with emunah and bitachon.