Translated by Yehoshua Siskin
In every moment, even this one, it’s possible to sin with the sin of the spies. In this week’s Torah portion, 12 spies are sent to the Land of Israel. 10 return with a pessimistic report about the land and the lack of capacity for living there, while only 2 describe the land as a wonderful place that awaits our arrival. The people become convinced that it’s preferable to die in the desert, begin to cry, and are punished by having to wander 40 years on their way to the Land of Israel.
How does this relate to us in the here and now? The spies remind us of the power of free choice when it comes to our fundamental attitude and outlook on life: 12 spies saw exactly the same thing, but explained reality in entirely different ways. There were those who looked for the bad (and found it) and those who looked for the good. Since most of the spies displayed a bad outlook, bad prevailed. And so we can determine, depending on our attitude, whether to find and strengthen the bad or the good in our world.
Rav Aharon Bernstein writes about this as follows: “For some reason, optimism is regarded as an escape from reality and pessimism is considered realistic, but this is not correct. Our outlook influences reality so that choosing to be positive creates a better reality and our decision to focus on this frame of mind is the correct one.”