Explore Jewish heritage with an amateur Jew’s commentary on Parsha Sh’lach, Numbers 13:1 – 15:41. Click here to read the previous portion, Parsha Beha’alotcha.
Something that I think gets lost in common Biblical knowledge is that someone was occupying the land of Israel prior to the Israelites. In Parsha Sh’lach, Moses dispatches spies to investigate the land before they continue their trek. The spies come back with distressing reports that frighten the Israelites to the point that they don’t want to continue the journey.
The Israelites, as they had in last week’s Parsha, complain.
“All the Israelites railed Moses and Aaron. ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt,’ the whole community shouted at them, ‘or if only we might die in this wilderness! Why is the Lord taking us to that land to fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be carried off! It would be better for us to go back to Egypt!’ And they said to one another, ‘Let us head back for Egypt.'”
This passage reminded me of the protestors in the US who were storming statehouses, demanding haircuts and the ‘freedom’ to be infected with COVID-19. Like the whining Israelites, they were so focused on their innate wants that they couldn’t see the bigger picture.
Similarly, it tends to be the haircut protestors who can’t understand the Black Lives Matters protests. Again, they’re more interested in their short-term desires rather than long-term societal gains. God, Moses, and Aaron are trying to take their people to the land of milk and honey for a better life as a free people. But no, no, no! Some Israelites would rather turn back to Egypt where they could get a haircut.
Sorry, think I might be mixing metaphors…
Point is, I think it would behove all of us, from the whining Israelites to the ‘All Lives Matter’ COVID skeptics, to take a deep breath and try to consider all of the facts before moving to rash decision making. The Israelites could reflect on the progress they’ve made, building the Tabernacle, and keep the faith that’s gotten them this far. The COVID ‘All Lives Matter’ crowd can similarly look at all of the information we have available before pursuing a dangerous path. We know the pandemic isn’t over (even if you don’t personally know someone who’s gotten it), we know that masks help protect people (discomfort is a very small price to pay), and we know that Black folks are disproportionately targeted by cops.
Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean we should give up.
Onward with Parsha Korach.