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Shelach Lecha 5779. Reality and Perceived Reality

The Israelite spies get frightened by the giants in the land of Canaan. In truth, it is a reflection of their self-perception:

All the people that we saw in it are men of great size; we saw the Nephilim there—the giants descended of the Nephilim—and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them (13:33)

The spies encounter only three giants. But they imagine them as incredibly intimidating. Since they see themselves as grasshoppers, they suppose that the enemy look at them that way. Moreover, they term these giants as “Nephilim” - mythic creatures descended from a union of mighty angels and humans (– see Bereshit 6:4-5). This encounter determines their entire perception.

  • How often does this happen to us? One jarring experience shapes an entire impression of a place or event

  • Like the Spies, there are times that we see a goal or challenge is impossible, we imagine the likelihood of success as improbable, we perceive the obstacles as insurmountable.

  • Why does this happen?

What is fascinating is that the following lines give us a window to a reverse perspective in self-perception, and a reverse perspective in assessing the enemy.

1. When Moshe is praying for the people, he says to God: