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Warning: Extremism ahead

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Those seeking a deeper religious connection should not be a cause to cut themselves off from family and friends. In general, no lifestyle change is meant to happen instantly, in a frenzy. Life is not meant to move like a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to the other. Immediately after the "sin of the spies" another sin appears in the Torah, the "sin of the defiant ones" (HaMaapilim). It transpires that after the spies express a lack of desire to continue on to the Land of Israel and succeed in persuading the nation not to go, there is a group that decides that it must make amends and fix the spies' mistake on its own, here and now.

God explains that he wants the nation to journey 40 years in the desert in order to internalize the message of the spies' mistake, but the defiant individuals decide to run ahead, despite divine instructions not to rush. Moshe Rabbeinu warns them that this is not the proper path to take and they are killed.

When we want to make amends, we don't have to jump immediately to the other side. Opposite the paralyzing fear that struck the spies, the solution is not the exaggerated self-confidence displayed by those who defied God and Moshe. Boom bam is not how life works. Things are much more complex. The 40-year journey to the Land of Israel starts this week – slowly, gradually, little by little. We will be ready to build up the land only after we succeed in building up ourselves.


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