Shelach Lecha

Posted on June 19, 2011

By Max Bartell, 2011 USY Religion/Education International General Board

Regardless of whether or not he was Jewish, Theodore Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seus) always seems to have something to say about the weekly Parsha. In my interview with him, Seuss had this to say when asked his opinion of the heroic actions of the spies Hoshea (later Joshua) and Caleb after returning from scouting out the land. “In the case of Joshua and Caleb, the case is simple, they should be who they are and say what they feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

For those of you who actually think I interviewed Dr. Seuss, I’m sorry to say that in fact, I did not. However, this quote does have a lot to do with this week’s Parsha, Parshat Shelach Lecha. This Parsha is a prime example of people standing up and doing what is right, even though the results could be potentially harmful. It is in Parshat Shelach Lecha that God tells Moshe to send out 12 spies (one from each tribe) to scout out the land and come back with (hopefully positive) reports. However, upon returning to the rest of the Israelites, ten of the spies begin to spread how awful the land was, and how the Israelites had absolutely no chance of conquering it. However, Joshua and Caleb took a different approach, instead telling the people that the land can easily be conquered. However, after already having been riled up by the other ten spies, the people don’t exactly want to listen to Joshua and Caleb. They don’t want to hear what the two men to say so much, that they even threaten the lives of both spies. However, Joshua and Caleb still stand up for what the believe is right and share their positive views with the rest of the Israelites. Overall, it was important to both men that they leave a legacy of piety and respect for Moses and God.

It is only fitting that this week, my grandmother is doing something else to contribute to her legacy this Shabbat. My grandmother, who worked at Brookdale Hospital for fifty years, and along with my grandfather raised my father and my uncle, will complete a two year adult Bat Mitzvah class at my shul. My grandmother, Bubbe, who came to every single one of my shows in elementary school, cried at my birth, and partied for the whole night after my Bar Mitzvah, will be called to the Torah, not looking a day over twenty. My grandmother, the daughter of poor European immigrants will now share one more thing with her grandchildren, three of whom have already been called to the Torah. My grandmother, who has always led by example, story, and the occasional Jewish guilt, will do the same thing that Joshua and Caleb accomplished in speaking their opinions to the Israelites. In reading from the Torah, my grandmother will follow in the footsteps of Joshua and Caleb, and truly tell the rest of the Jewish people that in fact, the land is good to settle, and that we have nothing to fear.

The idea of doing what’s right no matter what holds true throughout the school year, but especially now, during the time when most schools are having finals. If the opportunity to get an answer from a friend or give an answer during a test arises, we should be strong enough to do the right thing. The time to help each other with answers is before the test, in study sessions or groups, not during the test itself. With that I will bid you adieu for the summer, keep an eye open for the next great Rel/Ed IGB product!