Becoming an Influencer

Friday, 4 June, 2021 - 5:59 pm


Do you ever read an historical narrative and want to scream at the protagonists to warn them of the impending danger they’re stepping into? Or is it only me that has this weird sort of feeling?
Especially when they shoulda seen it coming.
I experience such a moment each year when studying the narrative of the spies recounted in this week’s Torah portion (Sh’lach). G-d Himself was seemingly reluctant to send the spies, telling Moses instead “You decide whether to send them.”
That should have been enough for Moses to realize it wouldn’t end well. Moses himself sensed there was trouble brewing, he even gave Joshua (one of the two spies who remained faithful) a special blessing to protect him from the negative influence of his companions.
So why in Heaven’s name did he go ahead and send them?? Because there was pressure from the people? Moses was used to standing up to pressure, he had never backed down under much greater pressure!! Yet suddenly here, against his better judgment, he capitulated.
Had Moses suddenly lost his mojo?
It’s too great a stretch to interpret this as an unfortunate mistake by the greatest Jewish leader of all time. In fact, if sending spies was the wrong decision, why in the world would Joshua himself make the same mistake some 40 years later when they were finally crossing the border into the land??
Obviously the decision was sound, the failure was in it’s execution.
There was a very important transition that needed to take place while the Jewish people were in the desert. They need to go from being a dependent people for whom everything was done on their behalf, to being independent. They needed to transform themselves from a nation of slaves into a nation of founders and builders; entrepreneurs and leaders.
They had to transition from being takers to being givers. From being influenced to being influencers.
In fact, that’s what the entire story of the Exodus and the journey to the Land of Israel is all about. It’s about taking responsibility. And yes, sometimes that means mistakes will be made.
Moses knew the risks involved but didn’t intervene with the people’s request because he knew this was part of their necessary growth.
Just like our ancestors inheriting the land, our Jewishness and our connection to G-d is not dependent on anyone else aside from each of us. It’s not about the rabbi or the synagogue, it’s about me and G-d.
It’s about me making Jewish choices despite what others may or may not do. It’s about doing what’s right, whether or not it’s popular.


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