Friday, July 1, 2016
From Rabbi Peter Stein
This week in Torah, we turn to the portion called Shlach, from the opening phrase “God spoke to Moses, saying ‘Shlach’—‘Send forth’ notables to scout the land of Canaan.” It is, for me, one of the most compelling sections of the Torah. It provides us a lesson in optimism and the importance of perspective. Joshua and Caleb, two of the scouts, bring home the same report as the other scouts, but told from a very different perspective. While the other scouts paint a picture of gloom and doom, Joshua and Caleb encourage the people and urge them to be confident that the future is secure…”because God is with us.”
We should never be foolishly optimistic, and we never want to deny reality just because we have faith. However, it is essential that we don’t assume the worst or jump to bad conclusions. I think of this as we come in to this American Independence Day weekend. This celebration should be a joyful one, recognizing the extraordinary nature of our country. Yes, there are times of challenge – and some might feel that the current political climate is cause for pessimism – but I still believe that our country is one of unparalleled freedom and opportunity. Yes, there are so many ways in which we need to fight for justice, but it is possible to strengthen our community and repair our world.
I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom: a day of peace followed by many more days of peace and goodness.