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Friday, June 4, 2010

Poetic Commentary on Parshat Shelah-Lekha - the story of the spies

This week's portion/parashah is Shelah-Lekha (Be'midbar/Numbers 13:1-15:41). In this parashah, 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, Yehoashua/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 because they brought back a positive report.  The first is Yehoshua/Joshua, who is to become Moses successor, and whose name means salvation.  The second is Calev/Caleb, whose name can be translated as "like a heart.”  I believe the rest speaks for itself.

the heart of salvation

yehoshua calev
       salvation like a heart
that is us
     we are one
     the two
who survived
    the two
who saw and 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
instead they saw
      giants     danger     obstacles
            they saw themselves
            ripe for destruction

sometimes I wonder
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 returned carried the same gifts

in the moment
   we returned
      they forgot
 all they had seen
       they built a wall
       around their heart
       hardened themselves
       unable to remember
            the beauty and joy
in the moment
      feeling only fear and trepidation
unable to trust God
within themselves

they did not believe in
they could only believe in
they could not trust
they could only trust
            the small mind of the ego

only able to see themselves
            as grasshoppers
ego created within the mind
the others
creatures who never saw us
yet imagining they would destroy us
the ego-mind creates
        that destroy

the ego-mind creates
that build walls
       around the heart
  keeping   God out
               fear in
           salvation at bay

the other ten
are now gone
killed by the plague
their fears come to fruition
but the damage has been done
the people are doomed
never to enter the land
never to achieve full salvation

but not so the children
      they are blessed
   they can begin again
they can reclaim the land
reclaim true divine heritage
       of beauty and faith
of belief in truth
         in God
      in the One

as One
yehoshua calev
salvation like a heart
the heart and salvation
of the Divine
shall lead them
to a place they cannot know
a place where they can
             be truly free

it is the same place
their fathers saw
            but did not see
the same place
that was their death
will be their children's
life and salvation

yehoshua calev
I will be sure
that they see
with their hearts
with their souls
open to all
the truths
the possibilities
in each moment of being
of recognizing the One
supporting and connecting us all

they may still see themselves
like grasshoppers
       but they will realize
    that does not mean
  that they are doomed
they can still escape
    finding freedom and salvation
       if they remain open
     to the truth of the moment

for them milk and honey will flow
        in the land
          from their lips
            from their hearts
       enabling all to embrace
        land    each other     God

together as One
we will banish the giants
       created by the ego-mind
creating in its place a home
land within the heart and soul
   filled with peace
      source of salvation
  for all who dwell within

this we will do together
      in remembrance
  of all those who came before
    those who still are
      those who will be
  unable to see the truth
              the One
   unable to experience
  the heart of salvation
             within all

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