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Saved by our past and our future

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

When confused, where do we turn? In this week's Torah portion, only two of the spies - Yehoshua and Caleb - were not swept up by the negativity of the others. Ten spies despaired from what they saw and said that it would be a mistake to continue to the Land of Israel. Only two dared to oppose them and declared: "The land is exceedingly good." Today we know that Yehoshua and Caleb were right, but from where did they draw the strength to stand up as a defiant minority? The parasha sends us in two directions: back to the past and into the future.

Back to the past: only one of the spies, Caleb, went to visit the graves of the patriarchs and matriarchs in the Cave of Machpelah. Caleb prayed for himself that he should not be influenced by the incitement of the ten spies, that he should not be affected by the gloomy majority report. Caleb prayed that he should maintain his independence and loyalty to his values, and not forget who he was and the nature of his mission. During a moment of crisis, he did not look at newspaper healines or what the media were saying about him, but instead sought counsel from Avraham and Sarah.

Into the future: the second spy in the minority was called Hoshea. But Moshe Rabbeinu added a yud to his name, changed it to Yehoshua, and prayed that God would save (yoshea) him from going along with the other spies. There is power in the prayer and the blessing of a tzadik. If the past saved Caleb, the future saved Yehoshua. Moshe's prayer was ultimately fulfilled when Yehoshua led the people into the promised land.

When there is a lack of certainty about the present, the giants of our past and the blessings for our future can keep events in proportion and give us strength. Our story is much greater - in fact, it's eternal - than what, in the present moment, it sometimes appears to be.


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