By: Cindy Coons
Director of Jewish Explorers & Family Engagement
Have you ever wondered why two people traveling on the same path experience the journey quite differently? Why some people see possibilities while others see obstacles? This week’s parsha, Sh’lach L’cha, which means “send to yourself” allows us to see the impact of these differences in experience. God says to Moses to send spies to the promised land which the Israelites are about to enter. Moses sends twelve spies, one from each tribe. Forty days later, the spies return sharing very different perspectives of their journey. Ten of the twelve spies share that it is not safe to enter the land because it is filled with hostile people who they cannot defeat, and that the land is uninhabitable. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, disagree. The people believe the perspective of the ten spies and are so fearful because of their report that they refuse to enter the land. They would rather return to slavery in Egypt than enter the promised land. As this well-known story goes, God decides that the people are not capable enough to enter the land and punishes them by sending them wandering in the desert for forty years. God’s intent was for the entire generation to die out. The next generation, who will have no memory of slavery and only know freedom, will be rewarded with entering the promised land.
I often wonder why God asks Moses to send the spies to seek out the truth about the promised land if ultimately God did not want to hear their honest reports, both good and bad. This brings me back to the meaning of the name of this parsha, Sh’lach L’cha, “send to yourself.” I believe that it was God’s hope that the spies would learn more about themselves on this journey rather than about the land. That they would see the possibilities in front and ahead of them and inspire the Israelites to confidently enter the promised land. This empowering message has resonated across the generations and is as meaningful and relevant today as it was back then. May you find the strength and inspiration to “send to yourself” the courage needed to embrace all possibilities on your journey even in the presence of challenges along the way. Wishing you and your family a sweet and meaningful Shabbat filled with endless possibilities. Shabbat Shalom from all of us at JEWISHcolorado!