This Shabbos we read Parshas Shelach. When the spies came back from the land of Israel and gave their terrible report, they added an interesting seemingly irrelevant thought. “And we were in our eyes like grasshoppers, and so too were we in their eyes.” (Numbers 13:33) At first glance this seems to be somewhat insignificant in comparison to everything else that the spies said.
I once heard a thought that in truth, a large part of the tragedy that occurred in the episode of the spies can be traced to this statement. How could men of such stature have made such statements regarding G-d and the land of Israel? Did they really doubt the ability of G-d to bring the Jews into the land, or to conquer the other nations before the Jews? Obviously not! What then were these men thinking?
The Jewish people were standing at a tremendous time of transition as they prepared to leave Israel and to enter the land of Israel. No longer would Manna be falling from the sky; People would begin to work as they earned a living. The challenge of maintaining an observant lifestyle as they were involved in regular life would have to be overcome. When waging war, battles would now be fought. There would be no pillar of fire or cloud of glory to guide them. The question became, could we manage in this type of lifestyle to conquer the land of Israel? Would G-d give us success in a world that He is not conducting open miracles? The spies said – no!! We don’t deserve this kind of Divine assistance! We will fail!
When Caleb answered the spies, he said “we will certainly rise and conquer Israel” (Numbers 13:30). Our Sages explain Caleb’s expression – “even if he tells us to go to heaven, we will build ladders and be successful”!! What a different attitude! What trust in G-d! If Hashem told us to do it, then we can do it! When a person can live with such beautiful confidence, with such a deep conviction of ability to fully fulfill the will of G-d, then they are following Caleb and Joshua.! If we start doubting our ability, and questioning our capabilities to do all the commandments, we are falling into the same trap that the spies fell into. We are worried about being like grasshoppers instead of being the great people that we can be.