The month of Tammuz is upon us. It is as if we blinked our eyes and we were already through the spring festivals. Now it is time to move forward into the long summer months. There are a little less than four months from the end of Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks) until the beginning of the High Holy Days in the fall.
Imagine a set of loving and caring parents, the kind that would bend over backward and provide for their children's needs ahead of their own. How absurd would it be if their children, who lacked nothing began to tell their brothers and sisters that the parents were going to stop feeding and loving them. Even worse, what if all of the children believed the rumor and did not believe their parents words of assurance or of their continual devoted acts of love and provision? If this is a horrible situation, how much worse is the situation with HaShem and the generation that came out of Egypt?
It was during this time of year that the spies were sent into Canaan to explore the land (Numbers 13-14). They explored the land for forty days, discovering what kind of people were there, what kind of cities they would find, and the lush vegetation that would be a supply of food for them and their livestock. They returned from the scouting mission to tell Moses and the people that they perceived that, although the land was in great abundance, the people would not be able to enter the land. They perceived that they would be destroyed if they would try to enter the land. They stated that they perceived themselves to be extremely small and that the inhabitants also viewed them this way, too. Only Caleb and Joshua, who had their eyes focused, not on themselves, but upon the Holy One, stated that the people should ascend and begin to take the land. These two, who followed HaShem fully, perceived that they would be victorious because HaShem was with Israel and that he had lifted the protection from the inhabitants of the land. When the people were told that they would not enter the land but would perish, they wept and mourned. This is traditionally thought to have been on the 9th of Av, the date of the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem.
The problem with the above scenario is that the people had poor vision or bad perception. They compounded the issue by skewing the sight of those around them and disparaging the faithfulness of the Faithful One. Instead of bringing a wonderful message of hope and light, they brought back with them an evil report of despair and darkness.
One can only wonder that if the spies had kept their eyes on HaShem and off of themselves and their adversaries how things would have differed. However, what we can do today, during these months between festivals, is to work at keeping our focus squarely upon HaShem and the work that we have for his Kingdom.
There are many practical ways in which to keep our focus on HaShem and to have a good perception about his promises of devotion. A few that can be derived from the example above are that one should not listen to nor tell gossip or evil words. Not only this, but a good disciple will find ways to perform mitzvot or good deeds. This in turn will allow for the light of the Kingdom to spread and to draw near. As you do these things, then may it be said of you that you are like Caleb, who had a different spirit about him and followed HaShem fully (Numbers 14:24).