The signs of trouble were there all along. Everyone has been organized in marching formation ready to invade. We know soon they are going to panic and ask Moshe to send in spies. But at this moment there is no challenge to the invasion scenario. Moshe asks his father-in-law, Yitro, to come with them into the new territory and to merge; the famous phrase that is used in our synagogues when we open up the Ark, is the signal to advance.
Then things go wrong.
People start complaining and fires start burning around the edge of the camp. They cry out to Moshe and in he steps as the fire chief to damp things down. Then they start grumbling about their diet and get nostalgic for the wonderful food they had back in the Egyptian work camps. This time Moshe has had enough. Public office in the Jewish community is getting to him. He calls on the seventy elders to help. Eldad and Medad start prophesying independently and then Miriam and Aaron complain as well.
Clearly morale is low. It is not surprising that they want reassurance. God’s word is not enough. However religious we may sometimes feel, we are practical people. The project of the spies was doomed from the start because the circumstances under which they were sent were unstable. The people needed reassurance. But the reassurance they needed was that they would have an easy ride, no hassle. And life just isn’t like that; even the easy things need working at.
So if you are thinking of going on aliyah, you’ll get help and some very favorable concessions. But don’t assume it will all go simply and easily without a few hitches. All good things are worth fighting for and it helps if you have the right attitude, a positive one, before you go.