Article

We are what we think we are. As the spies demonstrated, if we appear in our eyes like “grasshoppers” – that is who we will be in the eyes of others too. But if we think of ourselves as giants, that is who we will be too. As an American entrepreneur once said, "if you think you can, or if you think you cannot - you are right."

Rabbi Allouche

It stands as one of the most disappointing tales in the Torah.

Shortly, before the Jewish people’s anticipated entry into the land of Israel, Moses sent twelve spies to “tour the land” of Israel (Numbers 13).

Ten of the twelve spies returned with a negative report. And they concluded that “we are unable to go up against the giants and warriors [of the land of Israel], for they are stronger than us… we appeared like grasshoppers in our eyes, and that’s how we were in their eyes.”

The people of Israel believed them, and they complained to Moses that they would rather return to Egypt. For their stunning lack of faith in G-d, the spies and the people were punished. G‑d decreed that their entry into the Land shall be delayed by forty years until their generation dies out in the desert.

But, if the spies were sent to explore the land and return with an accurate report, why were they punished? The answer is poignant and it speaks to one of the great truths of life:

We are what we think we are. As the spies demonstrated, if we appear in our eyes like “grasshoppers” – that is who we will be in the eyes of others too. But if we think of ourselves as giants, that is who we will be too. As an American entrepreneur once said, “if you think you can, or if you think you cannot – you are right.”

G-d believed that the Jewish people, including the spies, could conquer the land, in spite of the many obstacles that stood in their way. He had great faith in us and in our potential. But we did not. And when we lack faith in ourselves and in our G-d given talents and purpose, nothing meaningful can be achieved.

Much ink has been spilled on our generation’s record-breaking low of self-worth. Too many of us evaluate our self-worth based on the amount of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, and yes, even Tinder inquiries. As a Rabbi, my office is often visited by despondent youngsters who have to re-program their method of self-evaluation, from a mindset of “what others think of me,” to the mindset of “what G-d thinks of me.”

The perspective of “what others think of me,” almost always creates self-made prisons, that stifle our growth and prevent us from maximizing our infinite potential. Yet the perspective of “what G-d thinks of me,” frees us from our self-imposed limitations, unleashes our innermost potential, and restores our belief that “impossible is nothing,” as Adidas once put it.

So here is a suggestion, inspired by the story of the spies: Adopt the perspective of “what G-d thinks of me.” Now, think of two or three particular limitations in your life which are holding you back, that you think you may have. Then, make a resolution to overcome them and the negative thoughts and self-definitions that they may be feeding you.

It may be as simple as making that telephone call that frightens you, changing that terrible habit, taking upon yourself a Mitzvah, and making time for G-d and for your soul and its desire to pray, to learn Torah, and to do good.

For, if G-d believes in you and in your infinite soul, shouldn’t you believe in yourself too?