The miraglim were afraid. They regarded themselves as insignificant “grasshoppers” who are scorned and stepped on by the ferocious giants around them. They collapsed from fear.
Fear becomes panic. Panic causes us to act irrationally.
If you are panicked, you cannot find Hashem; you cannot find stability.
I have noticed this personally. I have been panicked. In that state, I was unable to concentrate in davening or learning. I looked at the words and all I saw were physical letters on the page; I did not know what they meant. I was unable to concentrate. Therefore, I could not speak to Hashem and I could not hear what He was saying to me.
Everything begins with “Shema, Yisroel …. Hear Oh Israel!”
In order to speak to Hashem and hear His voice, we must be able to direct our attention to Him. If we panic, our mind is captured by the yetzer hara.
I believe one definition of “kavana” is that, when one’s mouth is saying a word, one’s brain is also focused on that word, so that one’s physical and spiritual actions are aligned (like an angel, who has one leg and no Yetzer Hara. We imitate the angels when we daven Shemoneh Esreh, which is why we stand with our legs together as if they were one.) If our mouth and our mind are in two different places, then we are not with Hashem and we are not going to succeed.
How can we apply this lesson today?
Events are overwhelming. We are feeling the hand of Hashem as it was during the plagues in Mitzraim. As it says in the Haggada, “Hashem brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an out-stretched arm, with great awe and with signs and wonders.”
Are we not seeing today the “out-stretched hand of Hashem, with great awe, signs and wonders?” How else could Corona bring down the entire world in an instant? How could the mighty United States fall apart in one day from an incident in an obscure police station in Minneapolis, Minnesota?
People are trembling all over the world. They fear that their world is falling apart, and for good reason. They are in a state of panic. Confronted by overwhelming challenges to their very existence, many people are near collapse.
I wrote in WORLDSTORM that each millennium in history will reverse one day of Creation, so that, just before Moshiach, the world will return to “tohu vavohu,” utter chaos, which was its condition at the first instant of creation. Today the world is nearing a point of utter chaos. People feel that their lives are falling into a bottomless pit. Yesterday they felt secure; today they are falling through space.
“You are G-d. You reduce man to pulp and You say, ‘Repent, o sons of man.’”
"Tremble before Him, everyone on earth.”
Avraham Avinu, the Father of the Children of Israel, was alone in the world; he served Hashem against an entire world of idolatry. Today, the Jewish People, Avraham’s children, are in the same position. We alone are facing a world which has gone insane.
How can we maintain sanity and stability in the face of chaos?
The amazing answer is in this week’s Parsha.
Parshas Shelach begins with the catastrophic story of the miraglim and ends with the mitzvah of tzitzis, which states, “it shall constitute tzitzis for you, that you may see it and remember all the commandments of Hashem and perform them, and not explore after your heart and after your eyes, after which you stray….”
Tzitzis remind us of the 613 commandments. When we concentrate on the tzitzis and make an effort to understand their significance, we regain our sanity; we remember why we are in this world and how Hashem will always take care of us and save us.
The miraglim looked at their enemies instead of their tzitzis. They forgot Hashem, His commandments and all the miracles through which He had just liberated them from Mitzraim. Thus, they became panicked and lost themselves. The result of their action hundreds of years later was the destruction of the Holy Temple, which led to the agonizing Exile in which we suffer to this very day and terrible decrees which have inflicted immeasurable tragedy upon our Nation.
This is why King David reminds us not to be afraid! “Hashem is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me? …. It is better to take refuge in Hashem than to rely on man…. All the nations surround me. In the name of Hashem I cut them down!”
We are called upon to maintain our sanity. Hashem is bringing His Moshiach into the world. Hashem is overturning the empires of our enemies which have governed the world for thousands of years. We are now engulfed in the mighty events preceding the end of our Exile, the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdosh.
“For I am mindful of the plans I have made concerning you—declares Hashem—plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a hopeful future,” on which the Midrash says, “the Tribes were involved with the sale of Yosef, Yosef was involved with sackcloth and fasting, Reuven was involved with sackcloth and fasting, Yaakov was involved with sackcloth and fasting, Yehuda was involved with taking for himself a wife … and Hakodosh Baruch Hu, the Al-Mighty, was involved with creating the light of King Moshiach!”
It is vital to remember that Hashem has thoughts for us “of welfare and not disaster.” Even now He is creating “the light of King Moshiach!”
“Hashem oz l’amo yitain, Hashem yevaraich es amo b’shalom … Hashem will give might to His Nation, Hashem will bless His nation with peace.”