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A Dvar Torah for Perashat Sh'lach: Numbers 13:1 - 15:41

Our Dvar Torah: Perception Matters!

A Dvar Torah for Perashat Sh'lach: Numbers 13:1 - 15:41
and Likutey Moharan Book I Lesson #282

Perception Matters!
By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © June 3, 2021

In this week's parsha one man from each paternal tribe of Israel is sent out to survey the Land of Promise. Why were these spies out? Rashi offers insight. He notes that HaShem did not command that they be sent out. Rather, notes Rashi, they were sent out according to your understanding. In other words, the people were lacking in emunah! Otherwise they would have simply journeyed into the Land at HaShem direction. But they lacked emunah. HaShem allow this but He did not order it. Emunah is not something that can be demanded of anyone.

They spied out the Land for forty days and then, at 13:25, returned to the camp. Did they speak of the Land's beauty and bounty? No, all but two of them gave a negative report causing already weak emunah of the people to be reduced even father. Because of their negative report and lack of emunah the people turned back and wandered for forty years in the wilderness, a full year for each day the spies were in the Land. As I explained on this parsha in my D'var Torah last year, based on Rav Borland's D'var Torah, there were arguably various reasons for their decision to carry back a negative report, perhaps even their devotion to Moshe Rabbeinu who they knew would not be permitted to accompany them into the Land. You can find my D'var Torah from last year on our shul website, beitEmunah.org. But their reasoning does not really matter!

As Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us in so many places when we focus on the negative we draw only more negativity! Rather than focusing on the vast positives of the Land eight of the spies focused on the negatives and just see how much negativity they brought about thereby!

Kelev and Yehoshua argued that HaShem would not have brought us there to be slaughtered. He leads His people always for the good! But the people chose to listen to the negative reports rather than exercising their emunah that everything HaShem does He does for our good.

HaShem responds to this lack emunah as follows:

And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me, and how long will they have no emunah in Me despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst?

Throughout our generations the Beloved continues to lament our collective and individual lack of emunah. Today its the same, even moreso despite the hope that we could be the generation to experience the end of the Olam Hazeh and the dawn of the Olam Haba. Is there no remedy for this ongoing doubt and lack of emunah? It does not have to be this way! Rebbe Nachman reveals a path whereby our emunah can be nurtured and made to flourish! Were we to sincerely and energetically take up this process the result would be nothing short of glorious. Let's turn to the conclusion of Book of Likutey Moharan, lesson 282:

Perhaps with this insight you will say, but isn't this a denial of reality? Evil exists! Yes, this is very true. But what is that to G-d and those who dwell in His Proximity through Devekut? As our Rebbe explains:

“Why does Ezekiel stress that Abraham was one at Ezekiel 33:24? It is because Abraham based his whole service of God on the fact that he was alone. He looked on himself as the only person in the world - as if everything was up to him - and he paid no attention whatever to all the other people who had turned away from G-d and who were putting obstacles in his way. Abraham paid no attention to his father or any of the other people who tried to stop him. He carried on as if he was alone in the world. That is the meaning of Ezekiel's statement: "Abraham was one."

In the same way, anyone who wants to begin serving G-d can do so only if he thinks of himself as being alone in the world so that everything is up to him. He must pay no attention whatever to anyone who tries to hold him back - not even if it is his own father and mother or in-laws, wife and children. A person should pay no attention to any others who try to mock him or entice him to give up or otherwise stand in his way. Just as “Abraham was one,” so too he must look on himself as if he is alone in the world and everything depends on him ~ Likutey Moharan II, beginning

What is Your Perception?

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