Torah Portion: Shelach L’Kha (Send on your behalf) B’Midbar(Numbers) 13-15
Haftorah Reading: Joshua 2:1-24
This Torah portion opens with the drama of sending the 12 spies into the Land and their return with answers to the questions of Moshe, which he charged them with before they set out. These twelve men were not just anyone but leaders of their tribes.
This same incident is also recounted in Deuteronomy 1:22. There we read where Moshe gave a somewhat different account than we find here. In our Parasha today we read, “The L-rd said to Moshe, send some men.” In Deut. we read, “Then all of you came to me and said, Let us send men.” So which was it or does it matter? Maybe the question can be answered by a Jewish proverb. It says, “Where a person wants to go, that is where he is led.” The people came with the request to Moshe and G-d allowed them to go. As people of free choice G-d allows us the freedom to choose our path. He will show us His will but it is up to us to choose it. From the time of leaving Egypt the people were well aware that conquering this Land was G-d’s will for them. However, they, being of little faith, wanted to check it out first. This might sometimes be our thoughts too when we find ourselves reluctant to follow the L-rd. After all, it is safer to stay where we are. To venture out on the water is scary and maybe dangerous. I imagine Peter, in Matt. 14:29 dealt with his fear before he stepped out of the boat.
This brings me to my question from chapter 15:38. When we read this verse what can we learn that will help us make the right choices each day? In this verse we first read of the commandment to wear tzitzit. As the verse progresses we see the reason for this commandment. The verse contains the Hebrew word, “taturoo.” This word is translated here as, “Spy.” A more accurate translation would be, “to yearn.” So the purpose of the tzitzit were to remind the wearer who he was and who G-d is. When he saw them he would be reminded t not follow the leading of his heart or his eyes without first filtering his decision through what G-d’s Word says and what he knew of G-d.
What would you say heart represents here in this verse? It represents our feelings and they can mislead us if given free reign in our lives. Feelings are good and important when checked by G-d’s word but when acted upon impulsively they can lead us down a path that may be difficult to recover from. In Moshe’s instructions he was telling them to view what they found in the Land of Promise through spiritual eyes and not through their own feelings. They sadly did not do that except for Caleb and Joshua. Other than these two men, the others saw themselves as grasshoppers in the site of the people of the Land. Their natural eyes saw only the natural world not the spiritual world.
Contrast this with Caleb and Joshua. They saw the people of Israel as being able to overcome the inhabitants as easily as one eats bread. In Judges chapter 5 we read of Gideon seeing the world not through his natural eyes but through G-d’s eyes. In Romans 8:31 we read, “If G-d is for us who can be against us.”
Here in our Parasha the men sent out fell into looking at the goodness of the Land and seeing only challenges and not the promise of G-d. We are challenged each day to see our world through the eyes of G-d and not our physical eyes. We must revolutionize our way of seeing the world. We must train our hearts and eyes to be led by what G-d says. The more saturated we become with the Father and what He says the more we will be able to emulate Caleb, Joshua and Peter. The more we learn to yearn after Him the clearer we can see the world around us.
Remember G-d was not interested in having these men check for all the difficulties that lay ahead of them. He already had that taken care of. His point was to awaken in them a yearning for the Promise. G-d wanted this yearning to be the force behind what they were being sent to do. G-d wanted them to choose to go because of what should have been an overwhelming desire to follow G-d. So He is with us. May our hearts burn with an overwhelming desire to do His will, to conform our lives to Him, to step into the water. It does not matter how old we are or even if we have made bad choices in the past. Today is a new day. Today we can choose to yearn after Him.