In our Torah portion this week, we are presented with two biblical characters who represent archetypes of moral courage. Joshua and Caleb are two spies among a company of twelve who have the faith and the inner strength to stand up and speak out with a minority opinion.
As our Torah recounts, twelve messengers are sent by Moses to scout out the Land of Israel. All but Joshua and Caleb report the following, “The country that we traversed and scouted is one that devours its settlers. All the people that we saw in it are men of great size–and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them” (Numbers 13:32).
In contrast to the ten naysayers, Joshua & Caleb return with messages of hope for the future. They say, “Let us by all means go up, and we shall gain possession of [the land], for we shall surely overcome [our adversaries]” (Numbers 13:30).
The juxtaposition of these two reports is as familiar to us today as it was in ancient times. In most situations where major decisions must be made, there is usually a majority and a minority report. The fact that the Torah celebrates the minority report through Joshua and Caleb invites us to consider moments in time when we too are challenged to defend a minority point of view.
In our world today, there are many moral causes which can seem far too gigantic for us to confront. Does this mean we should shy away? Absolutely not. We need to have the faith and moral grounding of Joshua and Caleb, and try (in whatever ways we can) to confront these giants head on.