Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
We are afraid to fail although, in fact, we are also afraid to succeed. The famous Jewish-American psychologist Abraham Maslow called this the “Jonah complex”. Jonah the prophet fled from his mission in life, from the command to go to the city of Nineveh. He ran away simply in order not to realize his potential.
There are commentators who explain that’s what happens in this week’s Torah portion. Twelve spies are sent to the Land of Israel. Only two choose to explain what they see in an optimistic and empowering way and proclaim that it would be worthwhile to continue on the journey. Ten spies announce that there is no possibility of success and it would be preferable to remain in the desert.
What happened to them? Indeed, it was scary to enter the Land of Israel and to realize our purpose. It was an awesome task that carried a message for the entire world. As Professor Maslow explains, it is easier for us sometimes to repress the positive forces within us. Simply to run away from growth and greatness into our comfort zone.
Even today we are likely to sin with the sin of the spies – in our personal and national lives – and fail to realize any great vision, the very dream of all the generations that came before us. We may rather “remain in the desert” instead of going beyond ourselves.