Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Sh'lach - 5773

My friends,

It has now been a little over 13 months since the children of Israel were liberated from Egypt. In last week's reading, we saw the tribes ready to begin the journey to the Promised Land. They were camped around the Tabernacle, and a Cloud of Glory by day and a Pillar of Fire by night rested above it, symbolizing the Shechina (G-d's presence) among the people.

In this week’s Parasha Sh'lach Lecha, there is a breakdown in their faith, and they question their ability to conquer the Land. Moses sends 12 leaders, one from each tribe, to tour the Land and report back on the Land and its inhabitants. After 40 days of touring, ten men give a negative report while two - Joshua and Caleb - give a most positive report. The Torah tells us that upon hearing the report, the people of Israel sat in their tents and wept all night. Many said let's return to Egypt, we do not need to die in the hands of the Canaanites. G-d's punishment was that they would wander for forty years and die in the wilderness, and that only their children will enter the Promised Land.

The slander the spies spread about Israel is that "the people there are too strong for us" and that there are giants who live there, and the worst thing they said was that "the Land eats its people". Only Joshua and Caleb yelled out that it is a good land, a land filled with milk and honey.

As we look at the world today, we have so many who describe Israel as a pariah state, a racist state, etc. etc. So many groups in Europe (forget about the Arab world, Iran and Russia, etc.) are so anti-Israel that it can only be interpreted as a continuation of the old antisemitic Europe. Those of us who see the positive in Israel, and defend her at all occasions, are like the minority report.

We need to continue to be like Joshua and Caleb who stood up to the majority, and who continue to inspire us to stand by the side of our people.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram