Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-MeirEyal ben Ayish

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Why did the spies not want to enter the Promised Land? Shelach -- the Torah portion that is read in Israel this week -- describes a tragic event. A contingent of spies scouts the Promised Land to evaluate its potential for conquest and returns to the nation waiting in the desert with a pessimistic and disparaging report: "We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we."

The Jewish psychologist Abraham Maslow called this phenomenon the "Jonah Complex." Like Jonah the prophet who did not want to accept his mission and fled, so too the spies did not want to actualize the divine promise made upon leaving Egypt -- that the nation would dwell in the Promised Land. The spies did not fear failure but rather the success and responsibility that would come with the full realization of their potential.

Being a light unto the nations is not easy. To assume responsibility not only for our fate but for that of the entire world is the ultimate test. Abraham Maslow challenges us to allow the positive and noble aspects of our nature to flourish and not to stifle them. We never want to flee from our mission or be afraid to reach the mountaintop and fulfill our destiny.