Torah Portion: Shelach L’Kha (Send on Your Behalf) (Numbers) B’Midbar 13-15
Haftorah Reading: Joshua 2:1-24
This week we read the story of the scouts who Moshe sent to scout out the Land of Promise. In this story we can see so much that speaks to our own spiritual life. To illustrate I would like to begin with an archeological lesson. If you have been to Israel and toured the Land I am sure you would have noticed what looked like hills but look out of place with the topography of the land. These small, sometimes large hills are called tels. They actually are the remains of ancient cities built one on top of the other and over time rise above the surrounding area. If we take a cross section of one of these hills we would find layer upon layer of past cities, each built on the remains of earlier dreams and expectations. Some were destroyed because of war while others were destroyed by natural disasters or were simply abandoned. However, in every case the newer was built on the remains of the older, using some of the same ideas, some of the same material, each reaching higher than its predecessor. Each one learning from the latter. In many ways our story of the scouts is similar. This episode ended in failure. However, the people moved on and in their search for and cleaving to the hope and promise of the Father, did not give up. They went on to more and more as they moved closer to the dream. So should we in our lives. We all miss the mark from time to time. But we should move on. We learn, we grow closer to the Father. We never give in to discouragement no matter how many times we stumble. We press ahead. We pick ourselves up and G-d leads us on. So it was here in our verses.
I want us to look at some of the mistakes made here in our Torah Portion and see what we can learn. In Numbers 15:1-2 we read what seems somewhat strange words. Immediately after the defeat of the people of Israel, the very next verse, G-d tells Moshe what should be done when they come into the Land, offerings that are to be given. So here immediately following this great defeat, what does the Father do? He encourages the people and us as well. He is moving ahead and expects us to as well. Their setback did not cancel out His promises. The Land still was their heritage. They missed the mark here because of their perspective. The future in Him is for greater than our present situation. The scouts saw only the here and now, the familiar realities of the present. Their eyes were filled with the physical challenges of the present and they lost their perspective of what G-d had promised. A hint of this is found in their report. They never mentioned G-d once, only the problems ahead. What do we see when we look around us? Do we see the present and its problems or do we see the future and all of its potential? Do we build on our failures or do they defeat us? Seeing the future through eyes colored by holiness allows us to see a completely different reality. Joshua and Caleb were able to see the future. The other ten men preferred to see only the present.
It is completely necessary, as we live our lives, to be able to maintain our balance. Sometimes we even do what is right but our motive is wrong. Why did the ten bring the bad report? Why do we sometimes follow in their footsteps? Remember in the desert everything was provided, food, water, shelter and closeness to the Father each day and night. Maybe they knew that would change when the Land was conquered. Then they would have to fight, work and make a place for themselves. While in the desert all they needed was provided. They and we forget that G-d expects us to live in the world and change this world for Him. He expects action from us, not standing still but to be involved in life.
Is it every okay to be caught up in doing the right thing but for the wrong reasons or wrong motive? Let me give you an example of doing the right thing for the wrong reason from our verses. Moshe had asked the scouts to bring back a sample of the fruits of the Land. This they did. However, they then took this action and used it for their own purpose. Instead of using the fruit as a positive example of what awaited them they used the fruit to make their own case to not go up and try to conquer the Land because the fruit was grown by people impossible to conquer. Are there ever times we are caught up in doing the same thing?