Never Assume, Always Prepare
Too much self confidence is also a detriment. Moshe sends forth the leaders
of the tribes of Israel to search out the Land of Israel and report back to
him. He gives them specific instructions as to what their report should
contain and confidently awaits their successful return from their
potentially hazardous mission.
It apparently never dawns upon him that these chosen leaders are capable of
bringing back a negative report about the Land of Israel and that they
would, in spite and resentment, publicize such a report and incite the
people of Israel to rebel against Moshe’s leadership and God’s Providence.
Moshe never imagines that the leaders of the tribes of Israel would somehow
view the land of Israel differently than he does. To Moshe it is the
Promised Land, the land of the forefathers of Israel and of Jewish destiny
and future. But the men sent to bring back the report to Moshe - except for
Calev and Yehoshua - see only the problems and difficulties that will
confront the Jewish state.
Moshe glimpses eternity and they see only giants and fearsome warriors.
Moshe longs for entry into the Land of Israel and they are ready to return
to Egyptian bondage. Moshe’s confidence in the people and their erstwhile
leaders is shattered. And Moshe’s confidence in his own self and in his
judgment of people and circumstances is now weakened and self-doubt creeps
into his psyche. Moshe’s frustration and disappointment is palpable in the
parsha reading. Moshe’s generation is doomed.
Every person in a position of leadership and responsibility, especially
younger people who are in such positions, experiences the same pitfall that
Moshe experienced in this week’s parsha. I remember that as a fledgling
young rabbi I attempted to bring a well known yeshiva into our community and
establish a branch of its main institution. Our community then badly needed
such an educational institution in its midst.
I presented the plan at a public meeting called by me to advance this plan.
I thought to myself “Who could oppose a yeshiva, so desperately needed by
our community?” So in my naiveté I did not prepare adequately for the
meeting nor did I make phone calls to the supporters of the yeshiva to show
up and be prepared to fight the battle. I was supremely confident that
everyone saw the issue my way and through my vision for the community.
I was therefore shocked to hear the torrent of verbal abuse and opposition
to the yeshiva project voiced at the meeting and the whole plan collapsed. I
had assumed that everyone would see the matter through my eyes and hold my
vision to be correct. Years later and in a different community I was able to
establish a yeshiva, also over many naysayers, but this time I was prepared
and had a much better feel as to how true human nature works.
I could not assume that anyone else would see the situation quite as I did
and therefore this time I prepared the meeting properly. Moshe assumed the
best and was unprepared for what actually occurred. Naysayers always abound.
We always have to prepare properly to overcome them and their objections.
Rabbi Berel Wein