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Shelach Lecha, God says to Moses: Send spies to the Promised Land, which the Israelites are about to enter. Find out, is the land barren, or fertile? Inhabited, or empty? And if there are people living there will they welcome the Israelites or will they try to kill them? That's how Parshat Shelach Lecha begins. What happens next is, Moses complies with God's request, and sends twelve spies, one from each tribe, on a recon mission to the Promised Land. Forty days later, the spies return with mixed news. On one hand, they report, the land is a paradise, flowing with milk and honey the spies bring back a cluster of grapes so large it takes two people to carry it. On the other hand, ten of the twelve spies say that the land is inhabited by giants, and the weak Israelites have no chance of conquering it. Two of the spies dissent: Joshua, who would later become the leader of the Israelites, and his sidekick Caleb. They tell the Israelites not to worry that they can defeat the hostile inhabitants of the land and can enjoy all that honey and milk. But the people don't listen. They're panic-stricken, and they cry out in fear. Based on this reaction, God decides that this generation of Israelites, freshly liberated from Egypt, is not capable of inheriting the Land after all. God causes them to wander in the desert for forty years, long enough for a new generation to be born, a generation that never lived as slaves, and thus would be confident enough to conquer the land. Of course, if God knows everything, you might ask, why bother with spies at all? Why not just tell Moses about the land, and cut out the middle men? The answer is that, just like us, the ancient Israelites had to learn lessons for themselves. We're not babies, and God doesn't give us all the answers – either today or way back then. We have to figure things out for ourselves, because that's what people do. And sometimes, we get it wrong. The Children of Israel let themselves be ruled by fear and panic. They could've inherited the land but because they thought they couldn't well, they couldn't. The spies weren't really sent to learn about the land – they were sent to learn about themselves. Think about it: what is a land flowing with milk and honey anyway? It's not like there were rivers of skim and ponds of 2 percent. What the spies saw was a land fit for cows, bees, goats, and dates – a land of potential. It's all a matter of perspective. One person sees a vacant lot, another a great spot for a garden. One person sees a potential enemy another sees a potential friend. This is what the spies really had to scout out: themselves. Maybe that's why the title of this parsha is "Shelach Lecha," which literally means "Send to You." Because what the spies were really meant to learn about was themselves. This wasn't about gathering military intelligence Like Jedi Knights in training the spies had to confront their fears before they could conquer them. Maybe it wasn't so bad that the Israelites panicked at the spies' report. It's hard to admit that you're afraid, but it's better than pretending everything is okay when it isn't. The Israelites were a nation of former slaves, traumatized by violence. Who could blame them for lacking the confidence to fight a war? But in order to gain that confidence, first they had to see the fear. The same is true for us. Sometimes, old habits are so ingrained, they don't go away easily. Sometimes, change takes a long time to happen – sometimes it waits even for a whole new generation, one not captive to the fears and assumptions of an earlier time. This is what the spies found out in Parshat Shelach Lecha: they weren't ready for the challenge. Forty years later, Joshua would send his own spies to scout out the same land, but this time the report was different: We can do it, they said. Was the land or its inhabitants any different? No. But the people, and their points of view, were. Producer: Sarah Lefton Animation Director: Nick Fox-Gieg Animation: Colleen MacIsaac Editorial Director: Matthue Roth Theme Music: Tim Cosgrove Written and Narrated by Jay Michaelson Sound Recording: Sarah Lefton

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 28
Posted by: sarahlefton on May 17, 2010


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