In our Torah portion this week, we are presented with two biblical characters who are archetypes of moral courage. Joshua and Caleb are two spies among a company of twelve. The task each of these spies has been given is to assess the livability of the Promised Land. Ten of the spies return with reports that are filled with fear and trepidation, which generates extreme angst among the people.
Only Joshua and Caleb return with reports which are positive and optimistic. They also recognize the challenges ahead, but they believe that each challenge can be overcome with perseverance, collective strength, and faith. While their opinions may constitute a minority, Joshua and Caleb are rewarded for their bold leadership, and because of their vision for the future, Joshua and Caleb become the only leaders in their generation who are granted the opportunity to enter the land.
Effective leadership demands generating confidence and hope. One of the most important qualities needed in the leaders we choose to follow is a capacity to generate hope in the face of fear. Life is filled with challenges and obstacles, and when our first reaction is fear and dread, our chances of moving beyond them is greatly diminished. If, however, we can ground our responses in optimism and hope, our chances of success increase exponentially.
This week the Torah provides a perfect model of such engagement, as it elevates and celebrates the optimistic leadership of Joshua and Caleb. Each of us has the capacity to embrace such a positive mindset. Whether it is through who we choose to lead us or how we choose to lead, when we approach the challenges that confront us with confidence and faith, we, like Joshua and Caleb, can look forward to entering the Promised Land.