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Grasshopper Prognosis

Friday, 19 June, 2020 - 4:16 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Today they have a fancy name for it.

Emotional intelligence.

In the language of our Sages it is called to ‘recognize your place’.

The spies who were dispatched by Moshe in this week’s Parsha erred gravely.

Perhaps they were emotionally unintelligent.

They started off as reputable people says the Torah. Perhaps even mentally super intelligent.

But they were incorrect in their thinking.

In two ways.

The famous mistake we all know about is that they came back from spying the land of Israel with a negative report.

It was not untrue. 

They had been asked to report on the state of the population in the land of Canaan and they had done that faithfully. 

They worked hard and shlepped back samples of the fruit, doing even more than they had been asked.

Where did they go wrong?

They gave a prognosis.

‘We cannot go up against the people for they are stronger than us’ they said. Thus, instigating a mass rumbling and complaining amongst the people. 

This was their mistake.

Moshe had never asked them for their opinion about whether or not it was a viable conquest.

G-d had said He is taking the Jewish people to Israel, that was not up for discussion.

The job of the ‘spies’ was to bring back information. 

It seems that they felt an exaggerated sense of worth and thus felt compelled to share their viewpoint with the people. 

They then added another line. In describing the hair-raising nature of their difficult mission, they said

We appeared like grasshoppers in our eyes, and that's how we were in their eyes." (Numbers 13:31-33)

This statement screams out about their pitiful state of self-esteem. 

They saw themselves as small and insignificant as grasshoppers. No wonder that this is the way they were viewed by the giant inhabitants of the land they were gathering intelligence on.

Again, a total lack of emotional intelligence. Click here for more.  

Here is what we should learn from their double mistakes.

Feeling too unimportant when facing challenge and conversely feeling too pompous when back home in their comfort zone.

We would do well to flip that around. 

Feel empowered to overcome the adversarial situation we may be in.

Be humble when reporting back to the more spiritually endowed leader.

In plain language:

If you are asked to carry out a mission, do what you are asked. 

If it a request for information, provide the information.

A doctor for example, should give a diagnosis. But not make a statement like ‘you have ….. amount of time to live’. Only G-d knows that.

Prognoses are often not in the purview of the medical professional, yet professionals sometimes feel compelled to try and act prophetic.

There is even a well know joke about the person who sued his physician. His doctor had told him he has one year to live so he went ahead and spent his savings on an opulent yearlong vacation. When he went back to his doctor feeling as ‘fit as a fiddle’ his doctor said ‘oy, I made a mistake’ you look like you are healthy again. The patient, having depleted his pension fund wanted to sue the doctor.

Could this perhaps be a lesson for our current situation?

In the cacophony of opinions about the virus there are so many prognoses. 

I think that the message of the Parsha is that we should listen to the experts when they share with us what they think we should do to protect ourselves. We should also pay careful attention to the what the immediate future holds so that we plan accordingly. It wouldn’t be wise to buy an airline now, I think.

But beyond that? 

We need to pray, trust and place our hope in Hashem that He bless our world with healing.

And not stop believing for a second that He and only He is in charge.

The situation can be changed by Him in a split second. How? He doesn’t need my help or suggestions. If He wants, it happens!

What about feeling like grasshoppers?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe whose 26th yahrtzeit comes out this Thursday, Tamuz 3, taught us how to view ourselves and how to project that to others.

In Rabbi Jonathan Sacks words, “You saw your reflection in the Rebbe’s eyes, and you were suddenly much bigger than you thought you were.” Click here for his full remarks

We need to feel like giants. Not because of who we are or what we have achieved. Rather because of the greatness of the mission that has been entrusted to us. 

Almighty G-d created me and you. He created us in His image and blew a soul into us.  Thus, He has clearly stated that you and I are each able to contribute something respectively unique to His world.

There is nothing more ‘non-grasshopper-mentality’ than absorbing the above lesson. If you but meditate on this for a few moments you will be a turbo-charged, pumped-up, ready to go warrior of light in ‘Hashem’s army’ of darkness-dispellers and energy and light providers. 

We can, and must continue this legacy.

By viewing not just ourselves, but our fellows from that same light, we will be mirroring the Rebbe’s everlasting legacy of empowering others. We have the mandate, we have been deputized, to inspire anyone we meet. To live up to their full capacity of serving Hashem and thus contributing their irreplaceable portion to the beautiful and intricate mosaic of G-d’s creation. 

Indeed, the Rebbe taught this by example. Way into his late eighties the Rebbe made it a custom to spend hours on this feet greeting people in blessing and forging a partnership with them by giving them tzedaka to distribute. To use his idiom ‘when two people meet, they should be be looking for ways to help a third person’. Click here for more explanation and video footage.

Let us keep up the chain of goodness and kindness. 

Let us cumulatively, mitzvah by mitzvah usher in the change we are all waiting for, the coming of Mashiach.

If we all do our bit, WE WILL GET THERE!!!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS for more information on how to mark the auspicious day of the Rebbe’s anniversary of passing, click here. Here in Bangkok we will mark the anniversary virtually, via hosting a ‘Zoom’ program with guest speakers. More details to follow during the week.

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