Parshas Shelach: Advanced Tests of Faith

by Shmaya Gestetner

Belief and faith, as these words indicate, are only relevant to things which are not known or understood by the human mind. Therefore, working on strengthening our faith is a mental exercise in overriding our perceived realities even when faith seems to be going  against our previous beliefs.

The same is true when it comes to believing in ourselves. We can often feel very distant from Hashem and our goals despite our best efforts. Believing in ourselves means that we believe that through all of our trials and efforts, we have grown into greater people, even when our minds and spirit feel differently.

Always a test:

These feelings and thoughts are a basic initial test in faith. However, we are faced with additional and more complex tests of faith as we grow. Throughout our lives, we will many times witness our faith being proven correct. For example, any time we are in a tough situation but believe that Hashem will help us out and then witness this come true, either through natural, semi-natural or near miraculous occurrences.
At the time that these events occur, on the one hand our faith is strengthened through the outcomes we witnessed, proving our beliefs to be correct. However, on the other hand, this detracts from the pure faith we held on to even before we merited to witness a positive outcome. Since true faith is only relevant to what is not clearly known, Hashem will often test us after these events and place us in another situation where we have to strengthen our pure emuna and not rely only on the positive signs we witnessed.
In regard to self belief, the same trials will follow us throughout our stages of growth. You may have done one great mitzvah and felt your neshama soaring as a result, but will later perform a similar religious act and feel the opposite. Emuna self-confidence therefore dictates that we believe in our continuous growth despite what our mood or natural psychological condition is telling our conscious minds.

The lesson in the parsha

Eretz Yisrael is the symbol and proof of emuna. After all of the great miracles that Hashem did for us in the desert, we still needed to believe that Hashem will bring us to this great land. The test at that time was to be able to believe in this without actually seeing the land first. The desire to “see” the land in advance, was based on the desire to be able to see G-d’s intervention without having to just believe in it with emuna alone. This is contrary to our real purpose in believing with a full heart even in the absence of clear divine intervention.
The passuk says (Bamidbar 14:11) “”How long will the people provoke Me? How much longer will they not believe in Me after all the signs I have performed in their midst?”. Hashem is telling Moshe our above lesson, rebuking them for using the past miracles to increase their desire to see things clearly, rather than using those events to increase their faith in that which isn’t clear yet.
May we witness Divine intervention in all our endeavors and let these signs serve to strengthen our emuna even in times where we don’t see Hashem’s miracles clearly.
Likutey Halachos YD Shavuos 2:15-17

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