Sunday, May 26, 2013

Parashat Shelach - Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh, My!

This week's Parashat, Shelach, has a lot to do with fear. Sometimes fear gets the better of us, and we lose our way, and too often we project this fear on others.

The Israelites are finally approaching the Promised Land. It has been such a long time. God tells Moses to send out from each of the check out the Land. The spies were instructed to explore the terrain, the towns and the cities, and the inhabitants.  They were away for 40 days (again, 40 !) and they finally returned, bearing some of the fruits of the land. They went right to Moses with a detailed description of what awaits the Israelites in Canaan, and described the beauty and bounty and called it a land that was flowing with milk and honey.  They also describe the people who dwell in the land, the various tribes: Amalakites, Jebusites, Hittites, Amorites, Anankites, and the Canaanites.

Caleb and Joshua believed that the Children of Israel should move forward toward the Promised Land. But, some of the other spies start to make up stories, and tell wild tales of giants that live in the land. The Israelites start to to panic, and they rebel against Moses and Aaron, and God. Have they forgotten that God has brought them this far? Were they just going to give up without even making the attempt?

God has had enough. Moses still has a lot to do. Moses is actually thinking that the people are not ready. But, Moses calms God's anger., and reminds God of the greatness of the Israelite people. But, God does not forget. God remembers those Israelites that were particularly cruel to the Egyptians in the desert. They, in particular, will not be able to cross for another 40 years.

This is an important lesson about gratitude. I wonder if things would have been different for the Israelites if they had shown some gratitude toward God? Perhaps they all would have crossed into the Promised Land at the same time. Wouldn't it be nice if we could focus on the gifts that we have received, rather than the "what if's"? Perhaps, then, everyday would feel as though we were entering into our own Promised Land.

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