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  • Hillels of Georgia

Noah Lee - 6/19/2020

This week’s Dvar Torah shows similarities between the Parsha, Shelach, and Juneteenth and the connection between the story of the 12 spies and Juneteenth. Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the liberation of all black slaves. While the emancipation proclamation was written in 1862, Black people were still enslaved in the south for three years until they were finally released on June 19, 1865 in Texas when federal troops arrived for their freedom. In parashat Shelach, God commands Moses to send 12 spies Into the land of Israel to see if it is suitable for the Jewish people to inhabit. There, 10 of the spies report counter Giants. They even bring back giant grapes to present to the rest of the Israelites. Two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua report that the land is flowing with milk and honey, and that it is perfect for the Israelites to inhabit. There are numerous ways to interpret the story of the spies. On one hand the 10 spies represent fear and the two represent fearlessness. Despite the fear that the Israelites will get destroyed by the enemy or that their people perish, Caleb and Joshua stood tall and showed no fear, despite knowing the obstacles that laid in their path. Another dimension of the story shows the 10 other spies were hopeless while the two, Caleb and Joshua, were optimistic and saw potential in the scenario. The flowing milk and honey was not literal but rather, the visionaries Caleb and Joshua figuratively saw that the land is suitable for potential green pastures and beehives, and could foresee the Israelites agricultural success. In researching this Parsha, I believe there is a strong connection between the story of the spies and our current events in America. The lessons derived from the story of the spies ring tremendous truth to our scenario today. On one hand we are all the 10, living in fear that our government does not have our best interest in mind. The innocent lives of Black people that are being disproportionately taken by police are not acceptable and create grounds for fear. The Covid pandemic, and much of the current damage in America which was avoidable and due to recklessness on behalf of our government officials, is also grounds for being afraid. In regards to the 12 spies, we must be conscientious of the forces in the world that elicit fear and consider ways in which we can all be like and help others be like Caleb and Joshua, seeing the potential in things and navigating the world fearlessly. Shabbat Shalom!

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