Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,
In Parashat Shelach, 12 individuals, each an outstanding representative of his tribe, were sent (shelach) by Moses on a mission to scope the land of Israel as the rest of our ancestors waited on the outskirts, preparing to enter. Forty days later, the spies returned carrying a fig, a pomegranate and a large cluster of grapes (the symbol of today's Israel Ministry of Tourism, shown below). Ten reported that while the land was filled with milk and honey, there were exceedingly great fortresses in Canaan and the inhabitants were giants. Would the Israelites be able to conquer the land? Two of the spies said yes, 10 said no
and an intense debate ensued. Even though God had promised the Land to our ancestors from the time of Abraham and Sarah, the people saw themselves as weak, comparing themselves to grasshoppers. They were frightened and cried out that they wanted to return to Egypt, demonstrating that they were not prepared for what would be required of them, whereby the wandering continued for another 38 years, until that entire generation had died in the desert. The parasha concludes with the instruction to place fringes (tzitzit) on the four corners of our garments so that we should remember to fulfill the mitzvot. These words are likely familiar to you from the last part of the Ve-ahavta section of the Shema ("l'ma'an tizkiru v'aseetem...that you shall remember and do...").
A kavannah for candlelighting
Dear God, please open my eyes to help me to see the beauty, the good, and the potential - and give me courage to acknowledge and act on the truth - both 'what is' as well as what can be.
An extra bit of Torah: The great commentator Rashi refers to the 10 spies as 'wicked'. What was their 'crime'? Their reporting was not balanced; they reported only the negative and rendered themselves and the Israelites insignificant, instilling fear in a place where what was needed was courage, something we could benefit from today, if only our leaders and officials would rise to the challenge!
Another bit of Torah: Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin taught that 'the Torah of being a person' is that we should never say that we are insignificant or that we are powerless or our deeds insignificant. Every detail of our words, deeds and thoughts rises to Heaven and impacts on what Heaven sends back down to us!
You are not insignificant.
Attitude is infectious.
You matter. Your thoughts matter. Your deeds matter most of all.
Looking forward to sharing Torah Talk with you
morning, June 20th at 10:30 a.m. A
Zoom link has been sent out to all members.
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman