This week, we read about the Israelites standing on the cusp of entering the Land that God has promised to them. It's all theirs, Divinely guaranteed to be awesome - but still, the people approach Moses, wanting to send scouts ahead to check it out first, just to make sure everything's okay.
So God tells them - "Shelach lecha"= "Send for yourselves". Rashi explains that this means God knew that the people wouldn't want to go into the Land sight unseen, so He made a recommendation. "Suit yourselves. Send whoever you want. But it's only because you want to - not because I don't know what I'm talking about." (Clearly a lesson learned from last week's portion.)
You see, if God had wanted a people that would believe His every word the first time it was spoken, heed His every direction without a thought, He would have made humans that way in the first place. This is not an error in Divine knowledge, judgement, or foresight. This is about teaching the Israelites, and everyone, that the relationship between us and God is a real partnership. We are meant to take our part into our own hands.
Taking things into our own hands, it's not only possible, but probable that we'll mess things up. We're not the Almighty. We can't see the consequences of our decisions. And that's okay.
Trusting in ourselves, and each other, isn't always the worst thing. We have to learn how to do that, even when we know that we, and the people we trust, won't always make the right choices.
We have a need to have control, even if the process is imperfect. It's a learning process. It might take 40 years to get there (hopefully not.) Even if we do, that's okay, because the deal we made with God empowered us to make the decisions, encouraged us to keep on keepin' on even after we acknowledged our mistakes, leaning on each other to make it the rest of the way through.
Thousands of years later? We're still doing just that.
To all of you who just joined the ranks of Ohio State Alumni, Mazal Tov and welcome. As you embark on the journey of a lifetime, may you have the faith in one another that it takes to make it through, and whatever other faith it takes for you to know that that is absolutely the right thing to do.
Photo Credit: Elle Muhlbaum 2011, who is literally about to journey in the land of Israel. Nesiyah Tovah, my dear, and thanks for an awesome two years.
(D'var Torah for Shelach, Numbers 13-15)