As is true for many of us, for the most part, I live in a world of assumptions and of circumstances that are familiar to me. This is my comfort zone. This is my “bubble.” But, we all know that, from time to time, we can be enriched by poking our heads out of our particular “bubble.” By doing so, we can learn more about the world. We can glimpse how the world around us is experienced and understood from different perspectives.
In our weekly Torah portion we read the Biblical story of the spies. Twelve leaders were sent by Moses to scout out the Promised Land. Ten, the clear majority, came back with scary reports. Hearing these scary reports, our people wanted to retreat. They wanted to turn back toward Egypt, toward the familiar, toward the past. But, two spies came back urging our people to move forward toward the Promised Land.
All twelve spies agreed that the fruit of the Promised Land was wonderful. Where they differed was in regard to their perceptions of themselves and of the people who inhabited the Land. The ten spies saw themselves as “grasshoppers” as compared with the people who inhabited the Land whom they saw as giants! Of course, the ten spies wanted to retreat! Sadly, their fear spread among the people and God decreed that the Israelites would wander in the desert for forty years before entering the Promised Land…
If we see ourselves as “grasshoppers” – as tiny, as threatened, or as powerless – we naturally fear stepping outside of our comfort zone. We reject opportunities to expand our horizons and to explore the reality of the world as others might experience it. We push aside faith and hope. We let fear dictate our future. How different would the story of our people have been, had the ten spies had a bit more courage! A bit of careful “bubble-hopping” would have allowed them to expand their spiritual horizons and to check their assumptions about themselves, about their community, and even about the “giants.”
It was then, and still is today, a challenge to find the best balance between being bogged down by feeling as if we are “grasshoppers” and feeling that we are invincible.
The Biblical story of the spies teaches us that we are not grasshoppers. But, we do need to have faith in God and we do need one another to help us reach our full potential! With faith and with the support of community we can reaffirm our worth, our direction, and the worth of our journey forward, toward the Promised Land.
Rabbi Gilah Dror
P.S. This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the upcoming Jewish month of Tammuz. Rosh Chodesh Tammuz will be a week from now – on next Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. May it be a month of peace, of blessing, of healing, and of joy!