The weekly Torah portion (Hebrew: פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ Parashat ha-Shavua, popularly just parasha) is a section of the Torah read publicly and aloud in weekly Jewish prayer services, usually in full during the Shabbat (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath). Each week, the ECI Young Adults are providing us with a commentary on the week’s parasha.
The parasha Shelach Lekha (meaning “send for yourself” or “send to you”) is from the book of Numbers chapters 13 to 15.
Twelve spies are sent to the promise land of Canaan. When they came back forty days later, they brought back fruits that testified that the Land was bountiful. Ten of the spies reported that the inhabitants of Canaan were powerful warriors and giants, creating fear and discouragement among the children of Israel. Only Caleb and Joshua believed that it was possible to conquer the Land, as God had promised. As a consequence, God declared that these Israelites would not enter the Land and He would wait for forty years to give it to a brand new generation.
Emouna, (“faith” in Hebrew), does not mean “to believe in God” but to “trust God”. That’s what we are called to do. To trust God’s words, to trust His promises, even if the circumstances seem desperate. In the episode, we learn that not trusting God can make us waste a lot of time! From Sinai it’s only an eleven-day journey to the land of Canaan!
The generation, freshly liberated from Egypt, was still captive of its fears. Even if the Israelites had seen God very concretely, they were not willing to trust Him yet.
God did not send the Israelites to learn much about the Land; they had to learn about themselves. Forty years later, the land and its inhabitants had probably not changed much but the next generation was trustful enough to go and conquer it. They were not slaves anymore and had no longer the desire to go back to Egypt.
If applied to today’s Israel, the lesson from this parasha may look something like this: one of the most tiny countries in the Middle East, Israel is surrounded by giants of nations which still want to erase it from the map. Many Jews from western countries are not willing to let go of their present day life, their houses and belongings,w and go back to the land of their forefathers – the Land that is promised to them by God. They do not want to let go of their comfort, they fear not to be able to adapt to Israel. Yet, the word of God is clear:
“The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 30.3)
God is calling His people back home. He is calling them to enter the Land one more time – He is calling them to trust. Let’s pray that this generation will not be rebellious to God’s plan – let’s pray there will be Caleb’s and Joshua’s that will give good report of the Land to their own people today. Then, let us also pray for the nations; may the Jews not feel oppressed by any form of anti-Semitism and be forced to leave. Instead, may our countries be a blessing for them during this very special time of “Aliyah”.The European Coalition for Israel is a unique grassroots movement, which is seeking to promote better relations between Europe and Israel through advocacy and education. More information: www.ec4i.org