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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Parashat Shelah-Lekha: A Heart of Salvation

Parashat Shelah - Lekha
Bemidbar (Numbers) 13:1 - 15:41


In this parasha, Moses, at God's command, chooses one leader from each of the twelve tribes to serve as spies. Their mission is to enter the land of Canaan, the Promised Land, and bring back a report to the people. "See what kind of country it is.....investigate its cities, people, soil, and forests and] bring back some of the fruit of the land," they are told. They do bring back grapes and other fruits, but ten of the twelve spies also bring back a report that, though the land is flowing "with milk and honey," it is filled with large fortified cities, "giants," and other dangerous inhabitants. Only two of the spies, Yehoahua/Joshua and Calev/Caleb, bring back a positive report and remind the people that God is with them, and so they can overcome any obstacle or enemy.

Unfortunately, the people are carried away by the negative report of the majority and wonder if Moses brought them this far out of Egypt only to die in the desert. As punishment for following the negative report of the ten spies, God declares that the Israelites will wander in the desert for forty years until this generation of adults dies. Joshua and Caleb will be the only ones of that generation allowed to enter the land.

This poem is based this on the names of the two spies who were allowed to enter the land. The first is Yehoshua, whose name means salvation. The second is Caleb, whose name I translate as can be translated as "like a heart." I believe the rest speaks for itself.

A Heart of Salvation

Yehoshua Calev
Salvation like a heart
That is us
We are one
The two
Who survived
The two
Who saw understood
The truth
The land
Flowing with milk and honey
Blessed by God
Waiting for us
To be ready
To enter

The others
Could not see
Their hearts
closed
Salvation impossible
They saw
Giants danger obstacles
They saw
Themselves
grasshoppers
Ripe for the squashing

Did we really travel the same land

Walking the land
We saw
The same beauty
We saw
The same abundance

We ate
The same fruit
We carried
The same gifts
Back to the people

Suddenly
We returned
They forgot
All they had seen
Their hearts
A wall built around them
Hardened
Unable to remember
Only fear trepidation
They could not trust
Themselves
God

They did not believe
In salvation
They believed
In Giants
They could not trust
In God
They could only trust
Their small minds
Seeing themselves
As grasshoppers
Imagining others
Who never even saw them
see them
The same way

The mind creates
Visions images
That destroy
Reality
Hope
Belief
Dreams

The mind creates
Thoughts
Building walls
Around the
Heart
Keeping God out
Fear in
Salvation at bay

The other ten
Are now gone
Killed
The plague
Of fear
Come to fruition

The people
Are doomed
Never to enter
The land
Never to achieve
Full salvation

But the children
Are blessed
They can begin
Again
They can reclaim
The land
Our heritage
Of beauty and faith
Of belief
In Truth

We shall lead them
Yehoshua Calev
Salvation Like a Heart
To a place
Where they can
Grow
Live
Be
Free

The same place
Their fathers saw
did not see
The same place
That was
their death
Will be
Their children's
Life

Yehoshua Calev
We will be sure
That they see
With their
Hearts
Open to all
The truths
The possibilities

They may still see
Grasshoppers
But they will realize
Grasshoppers
Are not doomed
They can escape
Be free
Salvation
Can be theirs

Milk and honey will flow
In the land
From their lips
From their hearts
Someday
We will embrace
Together
Land God

Together
We will banish the giants
From our minds
Creating
A home
Land
Filled with peace
For all the inhabitants thereof
In remembrance
Of the ten
And the hundreds of thousands
Unable to see
The Truth
Salvation
With their hearts

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