Parshas Shlach

"A nd they told him and said, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us, and surely it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.But — the people that dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very great, and moreover we saw the children of the giants there. …’ And Kalev silenced the people toward Moshe and said, ‘We shall surely go up, and capture it, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Bamidbar 13:27–28, 30) 

And how did they sin until now, that Kalev had to silence them? The Ramban found that in their words… they’d already spoken negatively, by saying, “But the people are strong,” for the word “but” (efes) shows their great fear of the enemy’s strength.It’s as if they asked how it would help them that the land flows with milk and honey, if they can’t capture it because the nation is strong.They only alluded to this, but when Kalev silenced them… their true feelings came to light and they said, “We shall not go up… they are mightier than us.”(Rabbi Meir Rubman, Zichron Meir)

 Can someone be allergic to specific people? 

“She” didn’t say anything specific, but I always hear an extra something in her words, as if there are subtitles beneath her words.I sense this neighbor’s subtle judgments and it leaves me feeling inadequate. 

As much as I attempt to push her into some forgotten corner of my mind, she always reappears, and pretty soon, I’m about to explode and tell her exactly what I think of her.I feel like I can never understand or accept her — and certainly not like her. 

We’re all a bit like that — we go scout out the Promised Land, to which Hashem wants to bring us.For there, Hashem knows, we’ll have infinite good.But then we catch sight of the giant pomegranates, the gargantuan figs, the giants, the endless funerals.All these things horrify us, and we cry with everyone about how we don’t stand a chance. 

We don’t stand a chance with our middle child — the one that uses tremendous creative talent to drive us crazy every day with outrageous statements and endless mischief. We don’t stand a chance in the face of ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.It’s never a fair match, especially late at night, when there are two more piles of tests to grade, and our goodwill goes to sleep, leaving us alone, hungry, tired, and weak against temptation.The sugar will always prevail. 

We have no hope of greeting Shabbos calmly on a short winter Friday, or of remaining unruffled during the tiring late summertime bedtime routine. 

Many people and situations seem too big for us, like that cluster of grapes that required eight people to carry it.We’re small, scared, and powerless.Grasshoppers. 

“And Kalev silenced [the people].”Yehoshua and Kalev said, “For they are our bread.”Is one afraid of a large loaf of bread put on the table?To the contrary, it means everyone will get a larger portion.(Chofetz Chaim al haTorah)

Yehoshua and Kalev taught us what to think when there are giants, fortified cities, and gargantuan pomegranates.They didn’t say they don’t exist, they didn’t say it would be easy.They didn’t claim everyone was exaggerating.But instead of saying “efes,” they said, “They are our bread.” 

The situation didn’t change, but they said, “And you, don’t fear the people of the land, for they are our bread.Their defense is removed from them and Hashem is with us.Fear them not.” 

Bread.Our nisyonos are bread.What appears so insurmountable is bread.Nothing is impossible because Hashem is with us.I can learn to live with, and even like, my neighbor.I can deal calmly with my child.I can even reach for some fruit instead of the ice cream. 

I will find the place within me that exchanges the “efes” for “bread.”I will view difficulty and nisayon as a chance to get a larger slice of Heavenly bread.