BY RONALD BLUMING / AJT //
The Torah reading for this Shabbat, Shelach, is noted for its narrative of the spies sent to investigate the conditions in Canaan. We read in the opening of the portion: Shelach l’cha anashim v’yaturu et Eretz Canaan, “send men to scout the land of Canaan.”
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The rabbis point out that the idea of sending the spies was the desire of the people, the Israelites, and not G-d. G-d had already instructed the Israelites to enter the land, but they were afraid and unsure of G-d’s instructions.
Still, G-d tells Moses that 12 spies can go into Canaan to assess the community. Ten of the spies return indicating that the land was rich in resources but also that there were enemies and obstacles the Israelites would have to overcome. The other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, return with reassurance: If the Israelites have faith in G-d and His promise to their ancestors, they will be able to overcome any difficulties.
The Israelites were apprehensive upon hearing the negative reports of the 10; they thought that G-d was promising them a safe place. But Joshua and Caleb reminded the people that they had to exercise their faith in G-d, and after all of the opinions were weighed, those of Joshua and Caleb persuaded the Israelites to show their faith in G-d by entering Canaan.
How often do we need reassurance via second, third or fourth opinions to guide our own lives? Yes, direction from G-d (perhaps through quiet introspection) might influence an important decision we make, but oftentimes we seek out the insights and wisdom of others for reassurance.
And there is no need for worry or shame in that. As Shelach illustrates, we have biblical precedent, and it is only smart to do so in the case of important decisions, such as those involving health, education and relationships.
You might be surprised, though, just how often “directions” from various sources – be they friends, family or the Divine – line up in some way.
Far be it from me to tell you that “everything works out for the best,” but remember: You trust them – and Him – for a reason.
Rabbi Ronald Bluming is the spiritual leader of Congregation Tikvah L’Shalom in Stone Mountain, Ga. and a member of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.