Sh’lach L’cha (Numbers 13:1)

Send yourself forth.

A year ago this week’s Torah portion Sh’lach L’cha (Numbers 13:1) was my younger son, Cahlev Aharon’s Brit Milah. I dedicate these words to him and all of our children as they begin to crawl, walk, and at the blink of an eye – send themselves forth.

The Torah portion describes the account of Bnei Yisrael’s, the Children of Israel’s next step forward. At Sinai they already received the Ten Commandments and its divine inspiration resulting in partnership with Adonai, our Gd.

In this week’s text we learn of their next step: returning home to the land from which they came and by doing so getting closer to the realization of their forefathers’ agreement with Gd. It is vital that we keep Israel, the land and her people around the world, on our minds as we weigh out decisions in life; but to achieve this level of love and appreciation for something greater actions need to be taken and groundwork needs to be laid out.

In this week’s Torah portion, the text presents us with a principle of action (assiyah), literally sending-forth one’s self.

וַיְדַבֵּר ה’ אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: שְׁלַח־לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת־אֶרֶץ

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, send thou men that they may spy the land…” Numbers 13:1

Why would the Israelites require men to go out and spy the land when in fact Gd promised to fulfill Gd’s vow with the Children of Israel? Had they not spied the land would the land not be given to them? And as a result would Gd’s word be null and void? The sages explain that it was important to send forth those who would check out the lay of the land and position their stake prior to the Israelites’ arrival. Gd’s vow with the Israelites would have been realized, and yet it was still necessary to lay the ground work.

Later in our Torah portion when the Israelite spies return from their mission, ten of the twelve spies report a negative account; Calev (Caleb) ben Yephuneh and Yehoshua (Joshua) ben Nun are the only two to give positive accounts. They both claim: “The land, which we passed through to spy, is an exceedingly good land.”

Sending forth is an act committed to its realized intention; in other words, your thought is processed and weighed prior to it becoming assiyah, an act. But sending forth in our text above connotes another kind of act, a more personal hakrava, sacrifice, resulting in a ‘higher’ level of purpose and awareness. It is this kind of forward movement that I find most meaningful, one where an individual (or a people) has the faith required to be committed to the actions taken and is thereby physically and spiritually present to receive the manifestation of that action.

This generation of Iranians have found their faith and are attempting to take charge of their destiny. Whether the votes were rigged or not the actions they are taking have literally sent themselves forth. Where to? No one knows. Will it make a difference? Already has.

Jewish tradition teaches us that every action we take in this life contains infinite potential. By sending ourselves forth with faith and conviction, like Calev and Joshua above, we have the opportunity to lay out the groundwork necessary towards taking the next step in life, wherever that may lead us – but you gotta have faith.

Shabbat Shalom

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