Torah Portion: Shelach L’Kha (Send on your behalf) B’midbar (Numbers) 13:1-15:41
HafTorah: Joshua 2:1-24
Tonight we look at the Torah portion Shelach or send. We read of the mission of the twelve men chosen to go and report back on their findings. You might notice that at the beginning they are called men not spies. That was a role they took on themselves. They saw their mission in a different light than Moses when he gave them their charge. They got ahead of G-d’s instructions. This is something each of us must guard against. When we run ahead of the Father we may become lost and get caught up in what we think He said rather than what He actually revealed to us. It is interesting that the word eretz (land of Israel) has at its root the Hebrew word Ratz or run. So we are to run after Him but not ahead of Him. Here we see obstacles in the way of the conquest. I would imagine we have all encountered obstacles in our lives when our wills are tested. These experiences give us the opportunity to demonstrate our profound desire to go with the “Lover of our soul.” Our battle is to be able to keep a proper perspective on these challenges, not to lose our way and not to be discouraged.
As we look here at the story of these men we see they lost their way. Their emotions got the better of them. This is where Numbers 15:38-39 helps us out a bit on how to maintain our balance when we encounter things that present a challenge to what G-d has said in His word.
These verses are included in the third paragraph of the Shema. It also contains the words, “not to follow our hearts and our own eyes.” First what does it mean to follow our own heart and eyes. To follow our heart – how does scripture see the heart? Scripture describes the heart as the seat of our will and our emotions. It can lead us astray. How do we counter a heart that is leading us down a wrong path? I think our heart must be held in check. When confronted by a decision our heart can’t be what makes that decision. It has to be balanced by what we know as truth – G-d’s truth. The ten men here in our verses seem to never mention G-d’s promises to the nation concerning the Land of Israel. Rather, they went after their own heart. They turned to their own emotions and interpreted what they had seen through their own emotions and not through the promises and truth of G-d’s word. Caleb and Joshua did rely on what they knew to be truth – G-d’s truth. So, here we have a great example of two different ways to see the same event. This should help us as we confront challenges and obstacles to our walk with G-d.
The same would be true of what we see with our eyes. Can we believe our eyes and act on it? Like our heart, our eyes can mislead us and tempt us. How do we counteract these temptations? We do that by being grounded in the word of G-d. What does He have to say about what our eyes present to us?
We only sin when we let irrationality enter us when confronted with an event or decision to make. If we know what G-d has said about a question then there should be no question. In the two verses we began with G-d tells the people that when you see the tzitzit you will remember the commandments of HaShem and do them. So with us, the spirit speaks to us of G-d’s word. We are required to know that Word and when a decision is to be made, a challenge faced, the truth of G-d’s Word has to be our guiding light, not our heart and not our eyes. Our heart and eyes can provide us information but never can be allowed to be the deciding factor of our actions.
We all are sent on a mission to bring the light of G-d into whatever we are doing and wherever we find ourselves. Often the opposition seems too much. The challenges seem too great. When these thoughts enter our minds we must remember that if G-d has charged us with this mission it can certainly be carried out. Our only job is to find His way to do it.