- God needs us to discover things on our own. This is why the portion begins with the words shelah lecha-literally, send them to spy on the land “for your own sake.” It would not have been enough for God to simply describe the Promised Land to Moses. God needed Moses and the people to directly experience the land so that they could under-stand the challenges that lay ahead. Faith in God alone would not have been sufficient. Since God is not going to tell you what to do in life, you will often need to rely on your own experience in order to make mature decisions.
- The majority opinion is not always right. The majority of the spies believed that it was impossible to conquer the Land of Israel; a tiny minority (Joshua and Caleb) believed quite the opposite. They advocated for their opinion, and they won; the people would push on into the wilderness and conquer the land. Many of the great things in world history have not happened because the majority was in favour of them; it often takes a creative minority of people to convince others to expand their vision.
- Arguing with God is an essential Jewish way of relating to God, even if it is not always successful. The tradition of arguing with God goes all the way back to Abraham, who argued with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is also the incident of the Golden Calfwhen Moses appeals to God’s sense of justice: it would be cruel for God to kill the people off in the wilderness. And now here Moses appeals to God’s ego: if God didn’t bring the people into the land, others would say that God was weak. Moses not only speaks to God; he tries to appeal to God and calls God to account.
- All Jews can be holy. In the past, God had commanded certain ritual garments for only the priests to wear. But now it is different. By commanding the Israelite people to wear fringes (tzitzit) on their garments, God is helping to bring about the day when Israel will truly be a “nation of priests.”
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source: Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin )
Torah Reading Parashat Sh’lach Lecha:
Numbers 13:1-15:41; Reading: Num 14:8-35
Plaut p. 983; Hertz p. 626
Haftarah: Joshua 2:1-24
Plaut p. 998; Hertz p. 635
Rosh Chodesh Tamuz: 13/14 June 2018
Tisha BeAv: 22 July 2018
Rosh HaShanah 5779: 9 September 2018