Each individual faces tasks and challenges, and the Jewish dimension of life both supports us in facing these and also, is itself sometimes seen as part of the challenge. The process of study, of getting a job, marriage, bringing a family into the world, aiding one's community, helping those in need - not to mention the issues confronting the Jewish people as a whole - all of this is guided by Jewish teaching. In this guidance there are both do's and don'ts. These provide a welcome point of stability, yet, people sometimes feel, they can also seemingly make things more complicated.

Can we balance all the demands we confront? How should we approach them? In this week's Parshah ("Shelach" - Numbers 13-15) the Torah tells us about the Jewish people facing the challenge of entering the Land of Israel, the land promised to them by G‑d generations before. Their task now was to change unholy Canaan into the Sacred Land of Israel, the spiritual centre for the Jewish people and ultimately the whole world. They had a tremendous challenge ahead of them. Yet this also typifies the task which faces every Jew in day-to-day life. We have to change the ordinary ways of the world into something holy.

At the beginning of the Parshah G‑d says to "send people to investigate the Land". The Sages explain that this was in response to the fact that the Jewish people themselves wanted to do so.1 It was natural for them to want to investigate the Land, and G‑d said: "Send!"

In other words, says the Lubavitcher Rebbe,2 if you have a task ahead of you, put your energy into investigating how to do carry it out in the best way. Sometimes a person just lets themselves be carried along by the stream, without thinking, without asking any questions. By contrast, the Parshah is telling us to investigate and to think for ourselves.

So, what went wrong? Why did the sending of the Twelve Spies lead to disaster?

Because instead of working out the best way to approach the Holy Land, the Spies declared that the job could not be achieved. The message they brought back was "mission impossible..." Instead of saying "we will have to face this or that problem" they said: "Give up on the whole project!"

This was their error. But it does not have to be ours. Our investigation into the ins and outs and the possibilities of the task ahead of us, based on all the advice of Jewish teaching, does not mean we should end up saying "mission impossible" and withdraw. If we look in a positive way at our task, knowing that G‑d is helping us, we will see the optimum way forward.

This positive approach characterized the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe imparted a totally optimistic view of life, based on the Torah. The Rebbe showed time and again that Jewish teaching is the key to facing every problem, both as individuals and as an entire people.

True, we need to think carefully what is the best approach in the specific situation, and take each factor into account. Yet the basic guide to action is G‑d's instructions to us through the chain of Torah teaching. Following this both wisely and steadfastly we will face every challenge in the most positive way, and ultimately, with the coming of the Messiah, the holiness latent in the entire world will be revealed.