Don’t Wait for Inspiration

Friday, 24 June, 2022 - 1:37 pm

It’s been a hectic week and I’m not currently home so as I sat down to prepare this message I experienced a case of writer’s block. Nothing was coming to mind until I noticed a note hanging above the desk I’m sitting at that reads: “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”

It clicked. Not only am I now motivated to start typing, this brilliant piece of advice provides the perfect context for an important lesson we can learn from this week’s parsha.

A year after the Exodus Moshe reluctantly acquiesced to the Israelites' request to scout the land of Israel before conquering it and sent representatives from each tribe on the reconnaissance mission. After giving them detailed instructions of what to look out for and how to analyze the situation he concluded, “You shall be courageous and take from the fruit of the land." Knowing the fruit of Israel was unusually large and delicious, Moshe instructed them to bring back samples of it to show the people what type of land they were inheriting.

When they returned, eight of them carried one huge cluster of grapes and a pomegranate and fig each needed a grown man to carry them. Ten of the spies delivered a scathing report of how conquering the land was impossible and the proposed invasion was a suicidal mission. The huge fruits they had in tow proved the land’s inhabitants were mighty warriors who would surely squash any Israelite efforts to inhabit their land. Devastated, the people revolted and refused to continue.

The fallout from the scandal was severe. The rogue spies died immediately, the rest of that generation died in the desert over a period of forty years, and for thousands of years we continue to reflect on the lessons we can learn from this tragedy. 

Here is an important detail worth analyzing. Why did Moshe instruct the spies to bring back fruits to prove how great the land was if G-d’s promise should be sufficient proof of that?

Moshe knew the Israelites would follow orders and march into the land to conquer it, but not everyone was equally inspired to do so. To blindly trust G-d’s promise demanded a lofty level of divine consciousness which could not be expected of every Jew. Moshe wished to motivate all Jews to approach this mission with excitement and confidence so he instructed the spies to bring back samples of the fruits so that even Jews who were not inspired by the holiness of the mission would be motivated by the material bounty it presented.

Moshe’s reasoning was straightforward: Since every Jew needed to get involved in the mission and there was no time to wait for everyone to be inspired by the holiness of the land, it was crucial to inspire them with less holier motivations.

The plan failed then due to the treachery of the spies, but the lesson is eternal. When it comes to doing a mitzvah don’t waste time waiting for divine inspiration. Do the mitzvah as it should be done, even with ulterior motives, and the divine inspiration will ultimately find you.


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