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Friday, June 13, 2014

Parshat Shavua "Shlach," Who Asked Your Opinion?

Parshat ShelachJune 13-14, 2014 – 16 Sivan 5774
Haftarah:Yehoshua 2:1-24

Yes, this week's Torah Portion, Shlach, is one of the most timely and misunderstood. First of all it's known as the "Sin of the Spies," Chet Hamiraglim, חט המרגלים even though the word "spies," "Hamiraglim" or "מרגלים" never appears in the Biblical narrative. Bamidbar 13:2
ב  שְׁלַח-לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים, וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי נֹתֵן, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל:  אִישׁ אֶחָד אִישׁ אֶחָד לְמַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו, תִּשְׁלָחוּ--כֹּל, נָשִׂיא בָהֶם.2 'Send thou men, that they may spy* out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them.'
ג  וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה מִמִּדְבַּר פָּארָן, עַל-פִּי יְהוָה:  כֻּלָּם אֲנָשִׁים, רָאשֵׁי בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה.3 And Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran according to the commandment of the LORD; all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel.
*that's the popular translation, though it isn't the definitive one.

We must remember that from the early chapters of the Bible, when G-d commands Abram (Abraham) to "go," lech,  לך to the "land I will show you,"  "el Ha"Aretz asher erecha," "אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ." This is non-negotiable. Bereishit 12:1
א  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ.
1 Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.

ב  וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ, לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל, וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ, וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ; וֶהְיֵה, בְּרָכָה.
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing.

ג  וַאֲבָרְכָה, מְבָרְכֶיךָ, וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ, אָאֹר; וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ, כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה.
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'
I consider it the theme of the entire Bible, not just the Chumash, the first five books. We, the Jewish People, are supposed to make this Land our home. If there is trouble with other residents, as long as we do our part, G-d will make sure that we are victorious, just like He did in 1948, 1967, 1973 and now, too.

Nefesh B'Nefesh,
Photo Batya Medad
At the point in our history when "Shlach" happens, we the Jewish People have left Egypt and can enter that Land. That's the plan, G-d's plan. The tribal leaders who weren't hiding, weren't acting as spies were sent to stake it out, to each choose a section of the Land for his tribe. They were supposed to cheer on their people and encourage them to take that next step as G-d's chosen people in the Land.

The leaders were supposed to be the middlemen, following G-d and leading the people. They were not supposed to create doubt in the minds of the former slaves. They were not to evaluate nor give an opinion about feasibility.

Unfortunately, today we're still suffering from the same mind-set, the same sin. The Jewish People have not come to the Land en masse. Jewish religious and communal leaders, today's tribal leaders,  have not given the order nor shown by example. They are more occupied preserving and fundraising for their diaspora institutions. They are full of noble sounding excuses just like the tribal leaders of old.

Nefesh B'Nefesh, Photo Batya Medad
Come already! Stake out your place in our wonderful Land! Then we can celebrate together. And then we will recognize the Moshiach who has been waiting for us here. And then our Land will flower and give us all of the food we need. Don't worry. Then will take care of the details and save us from our external enemies. First we must defeat our internal enemies, those who are keeping the Jewish People in the diaspora.

ripe grapes in my garden, Batya Medad


in the vanguard said...

Wow - a vineyard in your back yard, with such fine produce; I envy you! I envy all under the Israeli sky! Kol tuv!

Batya Medad said...

Shiloh is traditional biblical grape growing land.