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Thinking for ourselves

This week we read the story of the spies, sent by Moses to scout out the Land before the Israelites entered to conquer it. They brought back samples of the fruits – a huge cluster of grapes, pomegranates and figs – an image that later became the emblem of the famous Israeli Carmel winery.

The Israelites had a difficult decision to make: Do they trust the majority – the ten spies who brought back a discouraging report – or the two tribes who were optimistic and showed faith in God. Most accepted the ten spies’ report, and for this were punished with 40 years of wandering in the desert.
God wants us to be individuals and to think for ourselves. “As different as people’s faces are, so their opinions ought to be,” says the Talmud (Berakhot 58b).

Judaism has always stressed getting a good education and praised scientific research, to give us the ability to think for ourselves and make our own informed decisions.