Shelach: How Far is Too Far?



Who has not been faced with the following predicament: You get into a serious conflict with a close friend, and you aren’t sure whether you should sever ties. What line, if any, must be crossed before cutting off from a loved one? When hurt or betrayed, how far is too far? Is there a point of no return?

Or the other way around: Your loved one is terribly angry at you for a good reason and is not inclined to reconcile. How much should you push before giving up? Should you ever give up?

The same question can be asked about any idea or project that we believe in: When faced with setbacks and difficulties, is there ever a point when we should give up and try something new? How do we know when an obstacle is only a challenge to be overcome, or a sign that this initiative is not worth pursuing?

Finally, we can ask the same of our relationship with God: Is there a point where our connection can be so compromised that there is no room for reconciliation?

This sermon finds the answer in the analysis of this week’s Torah reading – which documents one of the greatest tragedies in our history, the slander of the spies – and proposes a formula for figuring out where lies the line we should never cross.


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