Shelach Lecha – Num. 13:1-15:41

As the Torah Turns

Rabbi Lader’s Weekly D’var Torah

Shelach Lecha – Num. 13:1-15:41

Our Torah portion this week is Shelach Lecha – Num. 13:1-15:41.  Moses sends a group of leaders – one from each of the 12 tribes, to scout the Land of Israel; their mission is to bring back their impressions and report them to their fellow Israelites.  They return with a mixed report.  On the one hand, the land is perfect for growing its crops – the fruits are beyond belief… it takes two men to carry back a cluster of grapes!  The land is flowing with milk and honey… This is a vision sure to bring comfort and hope. But… the report does not end there. The leaders report that the cities are fortified.  Ten say it will be impossible to conquer the land and its people… its giant people!  “We saw the Nephilim there… and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them!” (13:33) The people hear the report and weep.  Joshua and Caleb, who went as part of the scouting team, tell the people that they can do it!  The dream is within our reach! So, who is right?  Is this a case of fake news?  Have rumors been started and run amuk? The spies weren’t lying!  They gave a true description of the Land.  Archeologists have indeed found that the cities were heavily fortified, the people were well-armed, and they had mighty armies! However… sometimes we think of ourselves as weaker than we really are.  Others see us stronger. Bible scholar, Dr. Erica Brown, teaches that “Perception and reality tell a mixed truth.” And she suggests: “In the universe of perceptions, why not go with our strengths?” True, there are challenges that are difficult.  And indeed, if we maintain that we are “just one person”… or “we do not have the capacity… the ability… or the courage” to do something… or to make something happen… chances are it won’t.  It is up to us – each of us – to step up and face our challenges, to overcome our fear and attain our dreams and our hopes. This applies to each of us… as individuals… and as a community.  Hopefully, we won’t have to wander around for forty years to find this out.

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