BAMIDBAR > Shelach > Gnats and Giants
What poses the greatest hurdle in achieving our goals – is it the difficulty of the mission, the height of the mountain, or our own internal resistance and fear? How much of our success is dependent on attitude and self-confidence as opposed to skills? And can we even know how many skills we actually have? How high can we reach and what is our greatest impediment in reaching there?
The answers are contained in this week’s Torah reading, which relates the reconnaissance mission of the spies to scout out the Promised Land, and their report that it is impossible to settle it – for its inhabitants are giants. “We were like tiny grasshoppers in our own eyes, as well as in their eyes.”
This may well be the first recorded instance of what psychologists call “projection” – the act of ascribing to other people feelings you have about yourself, that is, imagining, or projecting onto others, feelings that originate with you.
When the spies saw themselves as weak and tiny, then everyone around them also saw them that way. Their reaction teaches us the nature of our greatest enemy (ourselves), as well as the secret to success (ditto): The only thing that can prevent us from accessing our enormous inner potential is our own self-defeating attitude and low self-esteem.
This sermon examines the common phenomenon of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” and explains what we can do to prevent it from taking us down the path of insecurity and fear … as well, what it takes to find that courage to have a winning attitude to reach the greatest heights.
As we approach the 17th anniversary of Gimmel Tammuz and we look to renew our connection to the Rebbe and his teachings, this is one of the revolutionary principles that the Rebbe imbued in us: Nothing is impossible. When you believe and have confidence in your Divine mission, you can achieve anything that you set your mind to do. Take the initiative, and you will be surprised by the results.