And you approached me, all of you…and the matter was good in my eyes… (Dev. 1:22-23)
Rashi tells us that when the people asked Moshe to send spies into Eretz Canaan, they did so as a rabble, with everyone pushing in front of the other, and not in a proper order with elders or dignitaries first.
Moshe Rabbeinu understood this as a lack of derech eretz and it signaled to him a lack of connection to ruchnios, a desire born out of human impulse alone. For one who has faith in Hashem would not become hysterical and act in an improper way.
Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky asks: If Moshe Rabbeinu understood the signal, why did he proceed in the next pasuk to say “and the matter was good in my eyes.”? Their body language and actions showed a lack of faith, and yet Moshe thought it was a good idea. How could this be so? Rav Kamenetsky answers this question with a well-known idea as far as hishtadlus is concerned:
How much effort must one expend in order to be successful? The rule that our rabbis teach us in regards to this is that one sets his own “bar”. Somebody who has a great amount of faith does not need to study how to become successful, whereas the person with little faith must expend a great amount of energy in his preparations. To find the right amount of preparations necessary, the formula is that it “could” work out, plus Tefillah and bitachon, brings success. The reason for this preparation is because at the end of the day a person has to perceive his existence as plausible. Therefore he lives in a world in which free choice is still possible.
With this we can understand the whole of Chumash Badmidbar: Though Klal Yisrael lived on mon, drank water from a rock, and had shelter from above, at times they still felt unsheltered and needy. They felt they needed real practical life plans. Living with miracles does not make one a “saint”. Therefore, when Moshe saw that klal Yisrael lost their emunah, he felt that the proper effort was through sending the spies.
Upon seeing this idea , it brought a little comfort to me. Yes, it is true though we could be at a low because our level of bitachon has dropped, and we have to be over-exertive to succeed. But the words are comforting because there is another side of the coin, too. If we improve our level of bitachon we can extricate ourselves from that lowly position and create a reality living with more bitachon and less stress.
Many times we have to work with the Nations around us in order to bring peace to the Jews the world over. But that hishtadlus should not be done with an approach of “rabbles”, but instead with our eyes fixed on our tefillos and strengthening of mitzvos.
As we sit on the floor on the day of Tisha b’Av, and we say “woe, what has become of us,” we are not just complaining about our plight, but we are trying to be inspired to strengthen ourselves in our connection to Hashem, and this effort is the only way to bring us to our ultimate goal of rebuilding ourselves and the Beis Hamikdash.