On Cognitive Distortion and a Shift in Perspective – Parshat Shelah Lecha 5774

d794d79ed7a8d792d79cd799d79dTo read a printable PDF version click here:  Parshat Shelach Lecha 5774

David Burns in his international best selling self-help book on depression and mood therapy, lists ten cognitive distortions that lead to a depressed mindset and in the long term to severe depression. He writes as follows:

The relationship between the way you think and the way you feel illustrates the first major key to understanding your moods: your emotions result entirely from the way you look at things.  It is an obvious neurological fact that before you can experience any event, you must process it with your mind and give it meaning.  You must understand what is happening to you before you can feel it.  If your understanding of what is happening is accurate, your emotions will be normal.  If your perception is twisted and distorted in some way, your emotional response will be abnormal.[1]

Amongst the ‘cognitive distortions’ are: Mental Filter – Picking out a negative detail in any situation and dwelling on it exclusively. Disqualifying the Positive -This is one of the most destructive forms of cognitive distortion.  The hypothesis that dominates the person’s depressive thinking is usually some version of ‘I am second rate’. The person will inadvertently ignore genuinely positive things, which will remove much of life’s richness and make things needlessly bleak.  There are many more that I could list but I believe the latter give a feeling of what Burns is trying to convey.  These cognitive distortions revert a person back to a kind of infantile perception of reality where there is neither process nor analysis of factual information or situations, but instead an immediate reactionary and emotional response. This notion will aid us in understanding the events from this week’s Parsha.

The destiny of the Jewish people unfolds before us during this week’s Torah reading. The incident of the mergalim – spies, appears to be the final straw in a long line of grumblings emanating from a seemingly dissatisfied people.  The ambiguity of the text forces us to ask what it is that the people do that is so wrong.  We watch as they receive the disparaging decree that they will not enter the land.  We feel the pain of disappointment and wonder in perplexity why God was so angered as to commit an entire people to die out slowly in the desert over forty years.  So they complained….we all do.  So they may not have had full faith in God….are we all not guilty of moments of doubt?  What was so overwhelmingly evil about the people’s action that was deserving of such a harsh punishment?  Furthermore in the aftermath of the event, God Himself states explicitly that He has ‘forgiven’ the people, but then goes on to ‘punish’ them with the decree of them wandering and dying over forty years in the desert:

20 And the LORD said: ‘I have pardoned according to thy word. 21 But in very deed, as I live–and all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD–

. 32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall be wanderers in the wilderness forty years, and shall bear your straying, until your carcasses be consumed in the wilderness. 34 After the number of the days in which ye spied out the land, even forty days, for every day a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know My displeasure.[2]

Thus instead of resorting to easy frameworks of understanding like sin and punishment I want to suggest we shift our perspective of the event.  I believe it is imperative to reread the entire narrative as a consequence of a people who had failed to ‘grow up’ and hence were not prepared to go and conquer their land. As we have already spoken about in previous weeks, Sefer Bamidbar is a journey of a people that are moving from dependence on their Father in Heaven for physical, spiritual and psychological sustenance to a people living in ‘interdependence’, through the paradigm of brit.  A people that have matured, taking responsibility for their own actions and their future.  They understand that their destiny is tied up inexorably with their own perception of self and their consciousness of their Master in Heaven.  Though God envisions this transition for the first generation, the incident of the spies proves that this will be impossible.

 

A matter of Perspective:

Through the mission of the Spies to the land of Israel, God tests the people’s ability to ascertain real perceptions of good and bad.  Following on from their outcry and frankly childish behaviour at Kivrot Hataava, there is a need to determine whether the people are ready to enter the land.  The mission of the spies was to be the final test of the people.  Would they show their worthiness and ability to react and assess a situation in a mature adult like capacity or not.  Ramban hints to this idea in his commentary. After explaining why it was justified for the people to request a recognisance mission (here he is referring to the account in Devarim that relays the story slightly differently), since they should not rely on miracles, he ends by saying:

And all of this was desired by God in His righteousness and the mission was at His command to be from the greatest individuals from each tribe in order that the people will be saved.[3]

In other words Ramban recognises that the mission was a test for the people to regain favour in God’s eyes and become worthy of conquering a land and establishing a nation within it.  Hence in many ways the mission is a test, but less a test of faith in God than a test of faith in themselves.

 

‘Send For Yourselves’ – A Paradigm Shift

There is of course a strong parallel between the ‘Shelach Lecha‘ command here and the ‘Lech Lecha’ command to our forefather Avraham.  In both moments that God calls on Avrhaam to lech lecha – go for yourself, or in a more literal translation go to yourself,[4] He is demanding an absolute paradigm shift.[5] Avraham is required to adjust his sights, reimagining his reality, climb the mountain, take the journey whilst transforming his entire outlook and vision of reality and self.  The people who were taken out of slavery, whose entire persona was wrapped up with a slave mentality, also are being asked by God to undergo a paradigm shift.  Until now their vision of reality was stuck in a mindset of absolute dependency, immediate gratification and cognitive stagnancy.  They are being summoned to undergo a journey that will transform their inner beings.  But to our dismay and distress they are unable to make the paradigm shift.  Instead they revert to old mindsets and frameworks of reality.  When the spies return from their mission they begin with an informative and seemingly objective account of the land.  Having been asked by Moshe to look at the land, see its good and bad, they report exactly as requested; the land has large fruits, it is fortified (chapter 13. V27-29) etc.  However the point at which things begin to go wrong is when the spies mention that their arch enemy Amalek dwell in the land.  It is at this point we begin to detect through the text that a tension reigns in the air.  Immediately as if reading the peoples reaction to this information, Calev  says: ‘We should go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.’ (v30)

In response to Calev’s positive stance the Spies put the final nail in the coffin:

But the men that went up with him said: ‘We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.’ And they spread an evil report of the land which they had spied out unto the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land, through which we have passed to spy it out, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, who come of the Nephilim; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.’ (v31-33)

Without words, without a considered and rational analysis of the information, the people are simply reactive.  Their ‘crying’ became a motif that as the Mishna and Talmud poignantly describes echoes throughout our long history:

“All of the congregation lifted up their voices, and the people cried that night” – Said Rabba in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: that very night was the night of the ninth of Av.  God said to them: You have cried out for no reason, but I will designate it for you to cry out for generations![6]

The imagery of a nation that ‘cries’ is associated with negative connotations.  Perhaps it is the motif of ‘crying’ that best underscores why the people are condemned to remain in the desert.   In two different places the renowned psychoanalysist and thinker Erich Fromm reflects on the process of ‘hearing’ or ‘listening’.  He writes that a student in a mode of ‘being’ rather than ‘having’, will approach information in a very specific fashion:

Instead of being passive receptacles of words and ideas, they listen, they hear and most important, they receive and respond in an active, productive way.  When they listen it stimulates their own thinking processes.  New questions, new ideas, new perspectives arise in their minds.  Their listening is an alive process…..they do not simply aquire knowledge they can take home and memorize.  Each student has been affected and has changed; each is different after the lecture then he or she was before it. [7]

Furthermore he sees the development of critical thinking as a major element in the transition from childhood to adulthood:

In contrast to irrational doubt, rational doubt questions assumptions the validity of which depends on belief in an authority and not on one’s own experience.  This doubt has an important function in personality development.  The child at first accepts all ideas on the unquestioned authority of his parents.  In the process of emancipating himself from their authority, in developing his own self, he becomes critical.  In the process of growing up the child starts to doubt the legends he previously accepted without question, and the increase of his critical capacities is directly proportionate to his becoming independent of parental authority and to his becoming an adult.  [8]

In both these texts what Fromm describes is the opposite of what we read in our Parsha.  Instead of engaging in a process that is alive and dynamic and that critically analyses the information given, the people resort to ‘irrational doubt’, they accept at face value the information and facts and hence respond as a child would, without words or speech but rather through cries.

What we witness here is a classic example of cognitive distortion as outlined by David Burns. The people are unable to process the information.  They go into a mode of post traumatic stress disorder, the trauma of their battle against Amalek – of having to fight independently without direct Divine intervention- causes them to recoil in fear and apprehension. And so Calev attempts to salvage the situation, by encouraging them to see their own abilities and worth.  Instead the people go into a mode of cognitive distortion – ‘it would have been better in Egypt’….’let us return to Egypt’.  Both the spies themselves and the people completely disqualify all the positive about the land that has been expressed, resorting to a mode, as Burns terms, of Mental Filter– that is to pick out only the negative images and information.  The people instead of taking initiative and thinking independently whilst processing and critically analysing the information of the spies , instead resort to a passive ‘slave’ mentality of believing what they hear.  What is good becomes bad and what is bad becomes good.  To appreciate this one must engage in a detailed study of the text:

א וַיְדַבֵּר ה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר.  ב שְׁלַח-לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים, וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי נֹתֵן, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:  אִישׁ אֶחָד אִישׁ אֶחָד לְמַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו, תִּשְׁלָחוּ–כֹּל, נָשִׂיא בָהֶם.  ג וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה מִמִּדְבַּר פָּארָן, עַל-פִּי ה:  כֻּלָּם אֲנָשִׁים, רָאשֵׁי בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה.  ד וְאֵלֶּה, שְׁמוֹתָם:……

אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לָתוּר אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה לְהוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן-נוּן, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ.  יז וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה, לָתוּר אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן; וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם, עֲלוּ זֶה בַּנֶּגֶב, וַעֲלִיתֶם, אֶת-הָהָר.  יח וּרְאִיתֶם אֶת-הָאָרֶץ, מַה-הִוא; וְאֶת-הָעָם, הַיֹּשֵׁב עָלֶיהָ–הֶחָזָק הוּא הֲרָפֶה, הַמְעַט הוּא אִם-רָב.  יט וּמָה הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-הוּא יֹשֵׁב בָּהּ–הֲטוֹבָה הִוא, אִם-רָעָה; וּמָה הֶעָרִים, אֲשֶׁר-הוּא יוֹשֵׁב בָּהֵנָּה–הַבְּמַחֲנִים, אִם בְּמִבְצָרִים.  כ וּמָה הָאָרֶץ הַשְּׁמֵנָה הִוא אִם-רָזָה, הֲיֵשׁ-בָּהּ עֵץ אִם-אַיִן, וְהִתְחַזַּקְתֶּם, וּלְקַחְתֶּם מִפְּרִי הָאָרֶץ; וְהַיָּמִים–יְמֵי, בִּכּוּרֵי עֲנָבִים. 

The Report

  כה וַיָּשֻׁבוּ, מִתּוּר הָאָרֶץ, מִקֵּץ, אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם.  כו וַיֵּלְכוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל-כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶל-מִדְבַּר פָּארָן–קָדֵשָׁה; וַיָּשִׁיבוּ אֹתָם דָּבָר וְאֶת-כָּל-הָעֵדָה, וַיַּרְאוּם אֶת-פְּרִי הָאָרֶץ.  כז וַיְסַפְּרוּ-לוֹ, וַיֹּאמְרוּ, בָּאנוּ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר שְׁלַחְתָּנוּ; וְגַם זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ, הִוא–וְזֶה-פִּרְיָהּ.  כח אֶפֶס כִּי-עַז הָעָם, הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּאָרֶץ; וְהֶעָרִים, בְּצֻרוֹת גְּדֹלֹת מְאֹד, וְגַם-יְלִדֵי הָעֲנָק, רָאִינוּ שָׁם.  כט עֲמָלֵק יוֹשֵׁב, בְּאֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב; וְהַחִתִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי וְהָאֱמֹרִי, יוֹשֵׁב בָּהָר, וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי יוֹשֵׁב עַל-הַיָּם, וְעַל יַד הַיַּרְדֵּן.  ל וַיַּהַס כָּלֵב אֶת-הָעָם, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיֹּאמֶר, עָלֹה נַעֲלֶה וְיָרַשְׁנוּ אֹתָהּ–כִּי-יָכוֹל נוּכַל, לָהּ.  לא וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר-עָלוּ עִמּוֹ, אָמְרוּ, לֹא נוּכַל, לַעֲלוֹת אֶל-הָעָם:  כִּי-חָזָק הוּא, מִמֶּנּוּ.  לב וַיֹּצִיאוּ דִּבַּת הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר תָּרוּ אֹתָהּ, אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֵאמֹר:  הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר עָבַרְנוּ בָהּ לָתוּר אֹתָהּ, אֶרֶץ אֹכֶלֶת יוֹשְׁבֶיהָ הִוא, וְכָל-הָעָם אֲשֶׁר-רָאִינוּ בְתוֹכָהּ, אַנְשֵׁי מִדּוֹת.  לג וְשָׁם רָאִינוּ, אֶת-הַנְּפִילִים בְּנֵי עֲנָק–מִן-הַנְּפִלִים; וַנְּהִי בְעֵינֵינוּ כַּחֲגָבִים, וְכֵן הָיִינוּ בְּעֵינֵיהֶם.

The People’s Response

א וַתִּשָּׂא, כָּל-הָעֵדָה, וַיִּתְּנוּ, אֶת-קוֹלָם; וַיִּבְכּוּ הָעָם, בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא.  ב וַיִּלֹּנוּ עַל-מֹשֶׁה וְעַל-אַהֲרֹן, כֹּל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם כָּל-הָעֵדָה, לוּ-מַתְנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, אוֹ בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה, לוּ-מָתְנוּ.  ג וְלָמָה ה מֵבִיא אֹתָנוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת, לִנְפֹּל בַּחֶרֶב–נָשֵׁינוּ וְטַפֵּנוּ, יִהְיוּ לָבַז; הֲלוֹא טוֹב לָנוּ, שׁוּב מִצְרָיְמָה.  ד וַיֹּאמְרוּ, אִישׁ אֶל-אָחִיו:  נִתְּנָה רֹאשׁ, וְנָשׁוּבָה מִצְרָיְמָה.  ה וַיִּפֹּל מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן, עַל-פְּנֵיהֶם, לִפְנֵי, כָּל-קְהַל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.  ו וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן, וְכָלֵב בֶּן-יְפֻנֶּה, מִן-הַתָּרִים, אֶת-הָאָרֶץ–קָרְעוּ, בִּגְדֵיהֶם.  ז וַיֹּאמְרוּ, אֶל-כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר:  הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר עָבַרְנוּ בָהּ לָתוּר אֹתָהּ–טוֹבָה הָאָרֶץ, מְאֹד מְאֹד.  ח אִם-חָפֵץ בָּנוּ, ה–וְהֵבִיא אֹתָנוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת, וּנְתָנָהּ לָנוּ:  אֶרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-הִוא זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ.  ט אַךְ בה, אַל-תִּמְרֹדוּ, וְאַתֶּם אַל-תִּירְאוּ אֶת-עַם הָאָרֶץ, כִּי לַחְמֵנוּ הֵם; סָר צִלָּם מֵעֲלֵיהֶם וַיהוָה אִתָּנוּ, אַל-תִּירָאֻם.  י וַיֹּאמְרוּ, כָּל-הָעֵדָה, לִרְגּוֹם אֹתָם, בָּאֲבָנִים; וּכְבוֹד ה, נִרְאָה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, אֶל-כָּל-בְּנֵי, יִשְׂרָאל

In order to appreciate the nuances inherent in the text it would be useful to illustrate the words that repeat themselves (Leitwort/Milah Manche) and hence lend themselves to interpretation. They allow us to develop a theme or message that is implicit  within the text.  There are a few words that feature repetitively throughout the narrative.  The first are the words טוב ורע (13:19/ 14:3/ 14:6/ 14:27/ 14:37) which repeat themselves numerous times, as well as the roots עין  and ראה (13:18/ 13:26/ 13:27/ 13:32-33).   What these words reflect is the notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as viewed from a defined perspective.  God’s aspiration for the people is reflected in the command He gives them through Moshe before they embark on their mission.  He asks them to spy out the land and see ‘what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad’[9]. The command is to look at the land see if it is good or bad i.e. God is testing their ability to differentiate between good and bad – will they see the fruit or the giants, will they see a land flowing with milk and honey or a land inhabited by the Amalekites. What are your eyes going to see? Because to be a free people in a land of their own and sustain the project of national development requires a positive and rational outlook.  It means at times one must wear rose tinted glasses so as to continue forward.  Only a positive and mature attitude can move a people forward.

Instead the people distort categories of reality.  Instead of seeing the Land of Israel as good, Egypt becomes ‘good’ – ‘הֲלוֹא טוֹב לָנוּ, שׁוּב מִצְרָיְמָה.– would it not be ‘good’ for us to return to Egypt’.  In a act of desperation Calev and Yehoshua fall on their faces and cry to the people

וַיֹּאמְרוּ, אֶל-כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר:  הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר עָבַרְנוּ בָהּ לָתוּר אֹתָהּ–טוֹבָה הָאָרֶץ, מְאֹד מְאֹד – The land you we went to see is a land that is very very good.’  In a final attempt to win the people over, they again attempt to shift the people’s warped and distorted notions – they say to them in other words, ‘do you not understand what is good, have you lost all sense of reality, must you behave like children believing everything that is told to you?’

Of course their words fall on deaf ears; it is too late, the people have already shown their true colours and though God will forgive them, since who can blame a people that are unable to escape the trauma and cognitive distortions of slavery, they will be unable to enter the Promised Land.

A people who perceive themselves to be grasshoppers, are of course a people whose self worth cannot make them into fighters and nation builders.   Only the next generation that do not have the warped perspective of good and evil, whose viewpoint has not been tampered, whose self worth remains intact and who are able to look forward instead of back, only that generation can see the land for what it is and can go and conquer it.

Hence in Sefer Devarim when Moshe relays the incident to the second generation it is no surprise that the same words – טוב\רע\ראה – good/bad/sight are repeated numerous times during this short passage.

לה אִם-יִרְאֶה אִישׁ בָּאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה, הַדּוֹר הָרָע הַזֶּה–אֵת, האָרֶץ הַטּוֹבָה, אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי, לָתֵת לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם.  לו זוּלָתִי כָּלֵב בֶּן-יְפֻנֶּה, הוּא יִרְאֶנָּה, וְלוֹ-אֶתֵּן אֶת-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר דָּרַךְ-בָּהּ, וּלְבָנָיו–יַעַן, אֲשֶׁר מִלֵּא אַחֲרֵי יְהוָה.  לז גַּם-בִּי הִתְאַנַּף יְהוָה, בִּגְלַלְכֶם לֵאמֹר:  גַּם-אַתָּה, לֹא-תָבֹא שָׁם.  לח יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן הָעֹמֵד לְפָנֶיךָ, הוּא יָבֹא שָׁמָּה; אֹתוֹ חַזֵּק, כִּי-הוּא יַנְחִלֶנָּה אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל.  לט וְטַפְּכֶם אֲשֶׁר אֲמַרְתֶּם לָבַז יִהְיֶה, וּבְנֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ הַיּוֹם טוֹב וָרָע–הֵמָּה, יָבֹאוּ שָׁמָּה; וְלָהֶם אֶתְּנֶנָּה, וְהֵם יִירָשׁוּהָ. 

35 ‘Surely there shall not one of these men, even this evil generation, see the good land, which I swore to give unto your fathers, 36 save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, he shall see it; and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children; because he hath wholly followed the LORD.’ 37 Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying: Thou also shalt not go in thither; 38 Joshua the son of Nun, who standeth before thee, he shall go in thither; encourage thou him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. 39 Moreover your little ones, that ye said should be a prey, and your children, that this day have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

Moshe’s message is clear.  The generation that could not determine that which was authentically ‘good’ from that which was ‘bad’ is a generation that could not possibly enter the land. If in their eyes the land ‘consumes its inhabitants’ it will become a land in which indeed its inhabitants will be consumed. Only the next generation which as Moshe describes ‘knows neither good or bad’ – have no preconceived notions of good or bad, can possess the Land.  A generation that determines ‘good’ and ‘bad’, not through distorted perception of information and reality, but rather through a considered, thought-out and critically analysed process are a people that are worthy of acquiring the Good Land.

Today, Thank God, we have a beautiful land that has truly been turned into the Land flowing with Milk and Honey, and yet it is plagued by internal problems of corruption, civil strife between different religious factions and existential threats, yet I do believe that despite this all as a people we remain positive.  As a whole we are able to see the good and recognise the positive that this incredible Land possesses.  Whilst studying this narrative, one of the women in my class once said to me that the aliya package given at the airport to new olim should include a pair of rose tinted glasses!  It is true, living in Israel requires at times seeing with our heart and not with our eyes[10], it requires a perspective that is at once realistic, rational, idealistic and authentic.  It is certainly not always an easy balance to maintain; but it is the key to the survival of a people living in a land that has the potential to make us into grasshoppers and consume us or elevate us to become the servants of God fulfilling His mission for mankind in the Land flowing with milk and honey – ultimately it all boils down to how we see it – a real test of perspective!

 

[1] David D. Burns M.D: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy p29-43

[2] Bamidbar Chapter 14

[3] Ramban Bamidbar 13:2

[4] In the Kabbalistic reading the words lecha-lecha are translated as go to yourself and not go for yourself.

[5] It is beyond the scope of this article to engage in a complete study of this idea but suffice to say that both at the birth of our nation in Parshat Lech lecha and at the Akeida, Gods demand of Avraham required that he go on a journey, less physical and geographical than psychological and mental.  Avraham was required to leave behind all his previous conceptions of self, family, God and reconstruct his frames of reference to himself – God and the world around him.  Gods mandate to Avraham and hence to the Jewish people was to be a dynamic people, easily able to adapt to new visions of reality and new frames of reference.  Not to be stuck to static and fixed perceptions but rather to be open to change and a constant reassessment of reality.

[6] Gemara Taanit 29a see also Mishna Taanit 4a

[7] Erich Fromm: To Have or to Be? P26

[8] Man for Himself p199-200

[9] Bamidbar 13:19

[10] I thank Gina Junger for this beautiful quote that her father told her when she came to Israel as a student at sixteen – to see the Land just with your eyes is what the spies did, to see it with your heart is what Calev and Yehoshua did.

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