“With a newborn I have all the patience in the world,” she complained. “Why am I capable of becoming a witch with my big ones?”
Her friend paused. “A newborn only arouses my mercy. In the presence of others I feel my darker thoughts,” she explained. “I resent them for reminding me of my selfishness, my impatience, my small-mindedness.”
This is a wonderful reminder of the inside-out nature of life. What upsets me always seems to be what I see out there – menacing, beyond my control, an affront to what’s right. In truth, what arouses my upset is my insecure thinking and my lack of acceptance for that aspect of being human.
This also offers an insight into the story of the spies in this week’s portion. The spies gather information about the land of Israel before the people’s settling there. But there conclusions all are dire: it’s a land of scary giants; people are dying everywhere; the population are fierce aggressors. In short, we’re all going to die if we go.
The Medrash succinctly summarizes G-d’s response: “You have cried a baseless cry.”
What does “baseless” mean? They saw giants. They saw funerals. They saw war-like fortifications.
Baseless means "weird glasses" - they saw their insecure thinking about those things. That’s it. They spoke evil of the land because the land reminded them of their fearfulness. And they became alarmed and they acted and they succeeded in sewing hysteria in themselves and the nation.
Just understanding the inside-out dimension of our experience can go a long way. How much humility and compassion are available in remembering how many before me have made the mistake of being activated by their thinking? How much gratitude is available for this insight? Giant quantities.