“If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you.” (Menachem Mendel of Kotzk)
The lesson of this week’s Torah Portion, Sh’lach L’cha, it is to see ourselves for who we are and who we can become, and not simply as a reflection of the way others may see us.
Standing on the banks of the Jordan river, within sight of the Promised Land, the Children of Israel lose faith, they refuse to step forward and possess it. They have heard the report of the scouts who Moses has sent forth to traverse the land.
“All the people that we saw in it are men of great size… and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them.” (Numbers 13:32-33)
They saw themselves as they believed others saw them, as small and insignificant grasshoppers. They were still slaves in their hearts, unable to see the strong and powerful people they had become. With God’s help they had escaped Egypt and defeated the armies of Pharaoh, and still they could not believe. Had they looked beyond themselves alone, however small they may have seemed, they would have seen the people which together they had become: 600,000 men at arms, all told, many millions strong. No army could stand against them, and with God’s help, their size or numbers mattered little to insure their victory.
One grasshopper alone is a tiny thing. Millions of locust is a wonder to behold.
“If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you.”
We are more powerful than we think and together we can change the world.