Our portion begins with the words, "Shelach lecha…", meaning, "send for yourself…" - spies. Rashi explains that the sending was predicated with, "on your [Moses'] own initiative". Even though G‑d made it clear that sending the spies was Moses' decision, nevertheless, when the mission ended disastrously, Moses was not faulted. This is because each Jew is given a mission to conquer his portion of the world and transform it into "the Holy Land", a place where divinity is revealed. Any trials and tribulation we may experience are not in order to make us crazy, but are meant as opportunities to help us fulfill our mission. And as Rashi explains, this mission requires our initiative. Initiative here means our own special qualities invested in positive actions to seek and find the most appropriate ways to fulfill our purpose - whether broadly, in our business lives, or on an individual basis communicating with family, friends and acquaintances.

Sometimes we are blind to our own abilities. The sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, wrote about an experience with a disciple to whom he had delegated a certain important task. The disciple asked question after question: how he should act; how should he deal with different details, etc. When the private audience was over and the disciple was on his way, the Rebbe commented that he had acted like a spoiled child, implying that the Rebbe was "lifting him and throwing him into the sea!" Because each difficulty in our lives is really an opportunity to fulfill our goal, we are given the special qualities needed to fulfill the task. Its just that sometimes we have to dig to discover the required talents. Each of us asks G‑d to help us with our problems…

In 1955, the Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote a letter discussing this idea from a different perspective. Each of us asks G‑d to help us with our problems. We do this with out taking into account whether or not we deserve such assistance. G‑d, in His goodness, comes through for us time after time. And yet when G‑d sends us on a mission, usually to help another Jew physically or spiritually, we can't seem to do this little thing that G‑d wants without complaining or exaggerating His expectations. "Just DO IT!", the Rebbe says, and see that the Almighty will provide you with all of your necessities.

The Kotzker Rebbe asks, "What was the sin of the spies"? There is no question that they were telling the truth. They saw powerful giants and numerous burials. Yet, how was it conceivable that those leaders, who had seen so many miracles, could doubt G‑d's ability to conquer the land? The answer is that the spies, except Joshua and Caleb, were not "men of truth". Only when the candle is lit does it serve its purpose…

A person who admits to the truth is a "non-liar" but not necessarily a man of truth. A man of truth is one who confronts a situation which appears to be the antithesis of G‑d's promised word, and yet he will strive to prove to himself that the situation does indeed comply with G‑d's word. This was the spies sin. They did not attempt to verify G‑d's word as true in a seemingly opposing reality. Thus, Rashi (Num. 13:32) writes that while the spies interpreted the burials to signify that Israel "consumes its inhabitants", G‑d actually caused the burials in order to avert the inhabitants' attention from the spies.

Mr. Yehuda Avner, former Israel ambassador to Australia and an unofficial liaison between the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the Israeli government, related a poignant story. Once, he asked the Rebbe what the purpose of a rebbe is. The Rebbe answered with an analogy of opening a cupboard and seeing an unlit candle. Essentially, a candle is a stick of wax with a string, but until it is lit, these elements serve no purpose. The candle represents a Jew's body, and the stick, a Jew's soul. The flame is the fire of Torah. Only when the candle is lit does it serve its purpose. Similarly, only when a Jew is shining the way for others is he fulfilling his or her purpose. The Rebbe is the one who helps light the candle. Upon concluding the meeting, Mr. Avner asked if the Rebbe had kindled his (Mr. Avner's) wick. The Rebbe answered, "No, but I have given you the match".

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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