On the Right Foot
In Parshat Devarim, Moses presents a recap of the past 40 years in the desert.
Moses refers to the ill-fated incident of the 12 Spies who scouted out the Land of Israel, and then advised the Jewish people not to go into the land! Moses emphasizes that when the idea of sending spies was first suggested, the people did so in a disorderly manner - with lots of pushing and shoving. The whole thing started off on the wrong foot. And as we know, the incident of the spies ended disastrously - causing a delay of the Jewish entry into Israel.
The story is told of Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, who approached the revered Gaon of Vilna, with an innovative idea to benefit the Jewish people. With great enthusiasm, Rabbi Chaim explained his new project. But the Gaon of Vilna turned him away, saying it was not a good idea.
Undeterred, Rabbi Chaim went back a few days later and - with great excitement and animation - again explained the new project. But again, the Gaon of Vilna said it was not a good idea.
A few months later, after having thought about it some more, Rabbi Chaim decided to try again. This time, the Gaon of Vilna gave his whole-hearted approval. And he explained: "When starting any new project, watch out if you're struck with 'uncontrolled enthusiasm.' It's a sign that the idea is impulsive and has not yet sufficiently matured."
This is also a good principle for parenting. Let's say your daughter comes running to you and says, "Mom! Mom! I want to learn how to play the keyboard! Let's go out and buy me a new keyboard! Now!" We've all seen it before - after the initial enthusiasm wanes, the keyboard winds up collecting dust at the back of a closet. Better for the parent to say: "Let's wait, dear, for a few more weeks. If you're still excited about the keyboard, we can talk about it then. In the meantime, maybe you can borrow someone's keyboard to see how much you like it."
It's a good principle to live by. For as we learn from the Spies, one's attitude in the early stage, hints to eventual outcome.