Parshat Sh’lach l’cha
Complaints come in all kinds of shapes. “If only I were …” or I should have … “
It comes from a perspective that focuses on what is missing, who sees what has not been done, and diminishes what has been done.
It shrinks and prevents the flow and expansion of energy.
As I read of this week’s Torah portion, my eye caught the first verse and a new question raised in my mind:
And God said to Moses, you should send out those who will explore the Land of Canaan, which I am bestowing on the Children of Israel.
The phrase “you should send out” rings in a familiar sound to my ear.
I hear in it as an echo of the phrase “Go forth (Lech L’cha, in Hebrew) …. to the land which I will show you” that God commanded Abraham.
According to the Hassidic interpretation – the “Lech L’cha” is interpreted as “go into yourself”.
The journey out of your father’s house to the land that I will show you – is also a journey of searching inward.
So what does “You should send out” mean?
In fact, what is the point of the divine command to Moses to send messengers to explore the Promised Land?
Perhaps here, too, the “You” (second person singular) can be interpreted as a personal instruction to Moses to explore his inner ‘land’? To check what are the forces hidden within him? To check what are the leading voices within — are they the weakening voices or the strengthening voices?
“And you shall see the land, how it is, and the people who inhabit it – are they strong or weak? Are they few or many? Is the land good, or is it evil?”
The guidelines are so dichotomous (good-bad, black-and-white) that they only reinforce my assumption that these are not facts that an innocent delegation should bring back, as an objective impression or report — but a different, more internal type of examination.
We should be remembered that the portion Shelach L’cha comes immediately after the portion b’ha’aloteycha, in which Moses responds very radically to the complaints of the people and complains himself in the ears of God:
“And Moses said to the LORD, “Why have You dealt ill with Your servant, and why have I not enjoyed Your favor, that You have laid the burden of all this people upon me? Did I conceive all this people, did I bear them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries an infant,’ to the land that You have promised on oath to their fathers?”
So perhaps it is also possible to understand the command “Shelach Lecha” as God’s command to Moses to test his inner strength. To check to whom he gives the reins, to the complainant or to the believer?
Perhaps it is some kind of test for Moses? An attempt to test whom he will eventually believe in?
To the positive voices of a Caleb (whose name means “he is all heart”) and of Joshua (his name means God will save) who are the positive forces that are in the minority? Or to the negative voices that are in the majority?
Will he count the “what is” or the “what isn’t”?
The story of the messengers who went on a pilgrimage to the land also reflects a very realistic insight for me!
I understand so well why 10 out of 12 see what is missing and only two see what there is.
And it is understandable why these two are the ones who receive the divine support and are exalted.
To be able to count what you have is a high spiritual goal.
In order to develop the skill of counting ‘what their is’, not what there is not, it is not enough to make a list of thanks.
It takes a strong belief in goodness, believing that the universe works on my behalf, and this sometimes can be a challenge.
One of the things I love about this story is that it touches on such a familiar human weakness.
And the story does not try to make it pretty. The messengers see the whole picture in full.
They see both what is and what isn’t, and this is expressed in the way they call the Promised Land:
“A land flowing with milk and honey” on the one hand, and “a land that eats its inhabitants” on the other.
So what is the problem?
The problem is that they let what is lacking paint the whole picture.
That they surrender to the forces of weakness, listening to the weakening whispers of the doubts within them and not to the voices of re-enforcement and strengthening. They lost faith.
May this story be a reminder for us to see the full glass, not the half-full glass, and strengthen our faith in goodness and what there is
May we know how to make room for all the voices that are heard and to act from a positive vision that believes in our powers.