At the beginning of Parashat Shelach, Moses chooses a leader from each of the 12 tribes to go on a reconnaissance mission in the land of Canaan. He doesn’t just set them free to do their thing; he gives them guidance in the form of a set of questions to be answered upon their return.
College is frequently a time of transition from the obvious Teachers in our lives- adults who have imparted life lessons and guidance- to a murkier sense of who we might look to for direction. When it comes to the Big Questions, like what kind of people we want to be and how we want to interact with the world around us, do we want to go it alone, or do we want guidance?
Jewish tradition is clear on this. Even as independent agents and leaders within their communities, the Torah holds up an example of good mentorship for the spies in this parasha. Pirkei Avot addresses how we exert our independence as adults: “Make for yourself a Teacher.”
As we become adults, it may no longer be obvious who we will learn from, but it is our responsibility to find the people who can fulfill the all-important role of Teacher.
Marissa Freed is Assistant Director at MIT HIllel.