Faith and Humility. In this week's Sedra, we have the famous story of the 12 Meraglim (scouts / spies) who were sent ahead from the desert to report on the Land of Israel. These Meraglim were high ranking leaders from each tribe. We know the tragic ending of their mission. Only two (Joshua and Caleb) gave encouraging reports and the negative reports (on Tisha B'Av) of the other ten Meraglim caused a rebellion, which ultimately led to the collective punishment of the entire nation wandering in the desert for 40 years, and the wiping out of an entire generation who never got to see the Promised Land.
The key to understanding the error of the ten Meraglim is that Moses did not tell them to provide an opinion as to whether or not the people would be able to enter the land. If that was G-d’s plan it would happen. Moses simply asked the Meraglim to report the facts. The ten Meraglim became haughty and self important and gave opinions. The Sages teach us that we can all be like Meraglim in our own lives, when faced with challenges and difficulties. We need to hold back from self defeating negativity. When we have G-d on our side, we can surely succeed. We have examples of such ‘miracles’ in modern Jewish history…..
Before they were sent on their mission, Moses changed the name of just one of the Scouts; Hoshea became Y’Hoshua (Joshua), by adding a Yud to the start of his name. Rashi suggests that this added letter - representing G-d’s name - was actually a prayer to protect Joshua from the counsel of the other Meraglim. Think how hard it would be to be just two people standing up to the opinion of ten others (in a jury type situation). Joshua had the trait of humility, necessary in a Jewish leader (or later the Kings). In last week’s Sedra, Moses himself is described as being the ‘humblest of men to walk the earth’. Being humble does not mean keeping quiet when you are correct, or not voicing your opinions. The Hebrew word for humility is ANIVUT. This is said to come from the root ANAV - to respond / reply. The humble Jewish leader will respond to and follow G-d’s will. Their own needs are irrelevant. A humble secular leader will follow and respond to the needs of their people. This is truly an expression of selflessness, leadership and of utter faith. This is why Moses gifted Hoshea the Yud - so that Joshua would be elevated and have G-d with him for strength, and allow him the faith, humility and self belief to voice his opinions.
As Ezra Taft Benson said ‘pride is concerned with who is right, humility is concerned with what is right’.