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Shevat 9

Climb up the mountain and you will see what the land is like (Numbers 13:17-18).

These words are the instructions which Moses gave the spies when he sent them to scout Canaan for the Israelites.

On a visit to a salmon hatchery, I witnessed a wonder of nature. Salmon swim upstream, against the current, to reach the spawning place where they were born. To get there, they must jump against powerful cascades. It is fascinating to observe how they struggle to overcome both the pull of gravity and the force of waterfalls. Nothing stops the salmon from getting to where they "know" they must go.

While humans do not have an instinctual goal, we do have the capacity to discover our goals by the use of our intellect. We must often overcome many hurdles and obstacles to reach our goals, and we must not allow ourselves to be discouraged by the struggles we encounter. Those who do not have the courage to overcome the challenge are likely to rationalize their retreat by saying that the goal is not worth the sacrifice. Instead of admitting their reluctance, they devalue the goal.

Moses knew that the land which was promised by God to Israel was the spiritual goal of the Jewish people, but he knew that when confronted with the difficulties of acquiring the land, some people might retreat and rationalize their reluctance by disparaging the land.

"Only if you are ready to climb mountains," said Moses, "will you be able to truly see what the land is like." The truth can be appreciated only by those who are ready to sacrifice for it."

Today I shall...

realize that reaching desirable goals may require much courage and effort, and I should not let any challenge divert me from worthwhile goals.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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