By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman
This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated by Mr. Binyomin Philipson in memory of his late mother
Mrs. Ellen (Elka bas Zisel) Philipson OBM.
A Chosid and follower of the Rebbe suffered tremendous back pains, and after unsuccessfully trying many medications and treatments, all the specialists he visited advised him that surgery was the only way to be cured. When the Rebbe was asked for advice, he implied that surgery was unnecessary; there must be a cream on the market which could solve the problem! But the doctors insisted that they know of no alternative to surgery.
Finally, this chossid visited Dr. Avrohom Seligson (the Rebbe's personal doctor and a devoted Chassid). Dr. Seligson, who was not a back specialist, checked the Chossid and prescribed an ointment for his back. Indeed, until his passing more than twenty years later, this Chossid never suffered any back pains.
When Dr. Seligson was asked how he knew to prescribe the particular cream, when all the specialists thought that surgery was the only option, he responded: "The results of the check-up indicated that he needed surgery—but the Rebbe said that this wasn't the case. I realized that the Rebbe merely wanted a 'vessel' through which a miracle could be manifest, so I prescribed the simplest and cheapest cream available on the market!"
In this week’s Torah portion Shlach (Bamidbor [Numbers] 13:1-15:41), the Torah tells of the spies Moses sent to Israel, in advance of the Jews entering the Land. The spies' reconnaissance mission to Canaan was intended to gather intelligence information about the enemy. They were told to scout the lay of the land, as well as its natural and man-made fortifications. They were to report on the enemy's strengths and weaknesses, and the natural resources they could rely on during times of battle. This information would be used to formulate an appropriate combat strategy for the impending battle to conquer the Holy Land.
The spies – all of whom were upright and pious people with unquestionable integrity – faithfully went about their task, but what they saw concerned them greatly: the Canaanites were a powerful nation, gargantuan people with awesome strength. There was no way, the spies concluded, for the Israelites to achieve a natural victory against the formidable Canaanite foe. "We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we," they declared!
Yet this honest conclusion had disastrous results. G‑d was highly displeased with their report, the reaction it engendered and it caused the premature demise of the entire generation which left Egypt. Where did the spies go wrong?
The Rebbe explains that the spies erred in assuming that they had to reach a conclusion. They were told to go to Canaan and bring back dry facts: the nature of the land and its population etc. They were not asked to render a decision regarding the feasibility of conquering the land. G‑d had promised the Jews a military victory against the Canaanites, and therefore that was not a debatable issue. The question wasn't if it could be done, but rather how it would be done.
The same is true with our personal lives. We all are "sent on a mission" to this world, to illuminate our surroundings with the radiance of Torah and mitzvot. Often the opposition seems to be too formidable; the obstacles to observing Torah and His Mitzvot appear to be insurmountable. When these thoughts enter our minds we must remember that if G‑d charged us with the mission it certainly can be carried out. Our job is only to figure out how to do it.
(Excerpts from Chabad.org - by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg)