Parsha Shelah Leha

Desperation Maapilim


The episode of the spies who returned from Canaan showed beyond doubt that the Children of Israel were not yet ready psychologically to start the invasion of Canaan. A whole generation had to pass before the actual invasion under Joshua.

But after they had all crumbled when ten of the spies said they faced the prospect of a hard battle, a group of them decided to try nevertheless and go up on their own initiative. Moses warmed them that the time was not right. God had decreed that the people were not ready and would have to wait before trying again. There was no point, he said in a desperate attempt to try now. It would not succeed. When the time was right they would attack aa an organized unit working together, not in undisciplined bands.

And in fact, they were decisively beaten by the Amalekites and the Canaanites who forty years later they had no problem seeing off. And there were no more attempts for a generation.

And so it is with us. Sometimes we fail, either in our personal lives or our professions and business. We do not achieve what we hoped for, a deal collapses or the person we are pursuing rejects us. There are those who would say one should go back and try again right away. But this story seems to be saying that if the time is not right, it is better to pause and redirect one’s energies than just blindly trying again and again. To be sure sometimes perseverance does pay off. But one must not be afraid of just walking away and trying something different.