by Liz Shallenberger - June 12, 2015
Imagine that you have wandered years through the desert, following God, Moses, and Aaron with little more than the clothes on your back, and the fixings to make shelter each night. Your family is with you. There is always food to eat and water to drink. There is not much in the way of creature comfort. Comfort comes in knowing where your child is, never experiencing hunger or thirst, and going to bed at night with your true love tucked in tightly by your side.
Now picture Moses calling a meeting after a long day of wandering and setting up camp, yet again. You know, as a Chieftain, when Moses shows up at your tent step to tell you that there’s an important meeting, one, you can’t say “no,” and two, it can’t be good. So as the story goes, God, via Moses, picks the Chieftains from the 12 tribes and orders them to go out and spy on the Land of Canaan. God has told Moses that he will help to deliver this land to the Israelites, but first they need to check it out and report back. I can just imagine the grumbling from these guys. They’re older, they’re tired, and as things go these guys have it pretty good. They are afraid of the possibility of change. Then God spoke to them:
And he said to them: “Go up this way by the Negev(‘south’), and go up into the high land.
“And see the land, what it is; and the people who dwell in it, whether they are strong or weak, few or many. And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it is good or bad; and what cities they dwell in, whether in the open, or in strongholds. And what the land is, whether fat or lean, whether there are trees in it, or not.
“And be of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land.”
It’s pretty clear that God wanted these guys to really check the layout of the land -- go into the cities, talk to the people, find out who they were, and what were their strengths and weaknesses. But that is not what happened. And of course our intrepid chieftains began to talk among themselves. Oy! As though that meshugas with the gold cow, and the Tablets, and the naked dancing wasn’t enough? Now we have to trespass, spy on strangers, maybe get our tuchus kicked. For the most part these guys were tired. Their exhaustion had lost them the battle before they had even spied that first tasty grape.
On the other hand, these were not the kind of guys to blow off God. They knew career limiting when they saw it. The problem was that they put very little energy into surveying the land they were supposed to take over. They walked a bit and saw three giant guys talking together. Maybe they were roof painters, but our Boy Wonders did not stick around to see. Then some other guys saw some giant fruit (maybe these were the winners at the village fair, but who knows: nobody stuck around to find out). The point is, many of us take things for the truth because we are frightened to dig a little deeper. These guys had God behind them, and they were afraid to take a deeper look.
What about us? I think we know God is behind us or we wouldn’t be here. Maybe it’s time that we dig a little deeper, believe a little more, and take one last look over the big hill…
Because there I’ll be, along with every other Jew who had to look one more time. I’ll be the one shlepping a grape vine with fruit the size of a soccer ball. One thing that I have learned over years of waiting is that where I am now, where you are, my bright and eager-eyed Family of Jews, this place here is the Promised Land.