Parshas Shelach and The Colorado Avalanche

Last night was a very glorious night. The Colorado Avalanche faced a critical Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Avs were humiliated two nights prior, and if they would lose Game 4, the series would be tied heading back to Denver. The game was pretty intense, going into overtime.

About ten minutes into the overtime, a period that was absolutely dominated by the Avalanche, Nazem Kadri, who I have written about before, broke ahead, and shot the puck. The weird thing is, no one saw what happened.

Said legendary Avs Broadcaster, Connor McGahee and Peter McNabb:

McGahee: Kadri… where’s the puck? How did that not go in?

McNabb: it did! It did go in!

McGahee: It did? It did !!!! He scooooooores! I didn’t see it, but they did, and its in!

Apparently, Kadri snuck the puck in the net under the armpit of the immensely talented Lighting goalie, and the puck got stuck on the top of the net inside the goal.

I think that there is a profound lesson here that related to this week’s Torah portion as well.

In this week’s Parsha, Moshe sends 12 spies to go scout out the land of Israel to prepare for its eventual conquest. Two of the spies, Calev and Yehoshua, come back with positive reports, and the rest came back with negative reports.

They said that the land is very nice, but the inhabitants there are giants, and they painted a bleak picture of the prospects of successfully conquering the land. As a result of this negative report, the Jewish people were sentenced to a lengthy sojourn in the desert, where they would die before being allowed into the land.

The commentaries all ask the fundamental question: What was so wrong with what the spies did? Aren’t messengers supposed to give truthful reports to the individuals who sent them? The Ramban explains that the key to their downfall was the usage of one word “efes.” In the context of the verse, the Torah seems to use it as “but.” To say, the land is very beautiful , but it will be too much for us to conquer it.” The word efes also means, “zero.” Like, there is zero chance we will be able to conquer this land. We can’t do it. There is no imaginable scenario where we can successfully fulfill this mission.

This blatant lack of faith and trust in G-d was their fatal flaw, for which they were handed a devastating punishment.

The Spies were too scared to even want to try conquering the land. They felt like the situation was too dire, and they were too weak. They felt, deep down, that they simply could not do it. They didn’t even bother wanting to take their shot.

Nazem Kadri also could have had every reason to not take the game-winning shot. For one, he was playing with a surgically repaired finger only two weeks removed from the operation. There is no question he is not at 100%. Secondly, he was going up against the best goalie in the world, with very little room, against a team who very rarely gives up goals during 5 on 5 play, and who very rarely loses on their lousy home ice. He could have doubted his ability to score, given the fact the goalie was playing out of his mind, and had already stopped a breakaway that period. But, he took his shot.

As Michael Scott said, from The Office, “‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ -Wayne Gretzky. “

We have to believe in ourselves– to know that deep within lies Godliness and immense potential beyond our comprehension. We can do it. We have to know and believe we can do it. And we have to shoot our shot.

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