Fear, faith and moral courage: Parashat Shelach Lecha


Shelach Lecha is a turning point in the Israelites’ story. Only a year out of Egypt, the Israelites make their way from Mount Sinai and head toward the Promised Land. It’s not far — they could cover the miles in a few days. In fact, some of them do.

At God’s suggestion, Moses sends 12 scouts into the Promised Land: “See what kind of country it is. Are the people who dwell in it strong or weak, few or many? Is the land in which they dwell good or bad?” (Numbers 13:18-19).
After 40 days, they return, saying, “We came to the land you sent us to; it does indeed flow with milk and honey. … However, the people that dwell in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified and very large” (Numbers 13:27-28).

Although Caleb, one of the scouts, immediately said, “Let us by all means go up …” (Numbers 13:30), as soon as the people heard the dire report from 10 of the 12, they despaired, especially when the scouts added: “The country we traversed and scouted is one that devours its settlers. All the people are men of great size … we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them” (Numbers 13:32-33).

Isn’t it amazing how spin can influence an audience? Especially when people listen in a crowd, influenced by those around them. Especially when the speaker builds on fear.
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