- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On June 4, 2021
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, our weekly reflection as we make our way to Shabbat.
How often is it possible to walk into the future in order to examine it?
In this week’s portion, Moses sent, by “God’s command”, specific leaders of the community to enter Canaan to reconnoiter the land. We receive no impression while they made their way around and through the country. The lack of description gives the impression of ease. When they return forty days later, however, these appointed scouts spew their emotions:
“We cannot attack that people, for it is stronger than we.”
Thus they spread calumnies among the Israelites about the land they had scouted, saying, “The country that we traversed and scouted is one that devours its settlers. All the people that we saw in it are men of great size; we saw the Nephilim there—the Anakites are part of the Nephilim—and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them.” (Numbers 13: 31-33)
These leaders had taken a look at their future and they did not like what they saw. They feared for their lives.
Caleb (and Joshua) who was also with them saw the situation differently. He tried to interject a positive spin on their adventure. “Let us by all means go up, and we shall gain possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” (12: 30) He offered one of the best pep talks in the Torah.
As we heard above, those who had accompanied Caleb wanted nothing to do with what their future held. Instead, they brought the people down with them to despair and wanted to return to Egypt.
Moses took a calculated risk by sending these particular people into the land. It did not work in his favor. When Moses originally had charged them at the beginning of their journey, he focused on the practical. Good/bad; rich/poor; fortified/open; wooded/not wooded. He provided no substance to the reason for their expedition. They stood at the threshold of a monumental moment for the people to enter the land. The desert wandering could have ended much sooner. They could finally settle into the land. But it was not meant to be. It would take another forty years, one year for each day the scouts spent in the land, until they could cross over. They had not yet earned the right to enter.
Peeking into the future has its dangers and yet we know we will arrive there at some point. It can feel fearful and uncertain. Part of our success is deciding whether we will be like those leaders overcome with fear and doubt or we will be like Caleb who believed in the power of the people to persevere despite challenges.
We can surely overcome whatever the future presents.
- Join us for Qabbalat Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. as we celebrate Helen Cohen’s career as director of the FJECC. Register HERE to join us in the Sanctuary. We can pray together HERE on the Temple Israel website, or HERE on Zoom, or even HERE on TI’s Facebook page. Or, just find it all on the website www.tisrael.org/TogetherWithTI.
- Tot Rock Shabbat gathers HERE at 5:00 p.m.
- Torah Study will begin at 9:00 a.m. To join the conversation interactively, access Zoom HERE. You can also watch HERE on Temple Israel’s website or HERE on TI’s Facebook page.
- Register here for Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat at 9:00 a.m.
- Join the Clergy for Havdalah at 8:00 p.m. HERE.