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A graduation message


Translation by Yehoshua Siskin 

Here's a beautiful thought from one of the multitude of speeches heard at graduation ceremonies held this week:

You are about to leave the hothouse and transition into the harsh environment of the world outside. When the situation gets confusing -- where will you turn? In the Torah portion of Shelach, only two spies - Kalev and Yehoshua - saw the Promised Land for what it really was and were not caught up in the negativity of the others.

Ten spies despaired and mistakenly thought that continuing to the Land of Israel was a bad idea, while only two dared to defy them and declared: "The Land is very, very good." Today we know that they were right. but from where did they find the strength to be in the minority? From where do we derive the strength to persist in our values, even when the outside world is against us?

The Parasha sends us in two opposite directions - back to the past and forward to the future:

Back to the past. It is told that in the course of their visit only one of the spies, Kalev, visited the graves of the Patriarchs in the Cave of Machpelah. Kalev prayed there for himself, that he should not listen to the gloomy assessment of the ten spies and not be swept away by their majority opinion, that he should remain of an independent mind with a commitment to the spirit and faithfulness of his forefathers. That he should not forget who he was and his mission. In a moment of crisis, he did not care about the newspaper headlines of the day or what would be written about him, but rather was concerned with what Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu would say about him.

Forward to the future. The second spy in the minority was originally called Hoshea, but Moshe Rabbeinu added the letter yud to his name, changing it to Yehoshua and praying that God would save (yoshia) him from the influence of the ten spies. There is power in prayer and in the blessing of a tzadik, and the prayer of Moshe for Yehoshua was fulfilled.

When there is chaos and a lack of certainty - which is relevant to the coming elections and every other challenge - the past and the future can provide us with the perspective to see things clearly and in proper proportion. Our story is much bigger and far more eternal than what events of the day sometimes make it seem to be.

Wishing much success to all.


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