D’var Torah: Rabbi Rebecca Weinstein (Shlach)

This past July I gave birth to our daughter Leah. I remember in the months leading up to her birth I would turn to my husband and ask, “What do you think she will be like?”, “Do you think she will have a lot of hair?”, “Do you think I will be a good Mom?”
It has been my experience that moments of uncertainty, moments of great transition, open us to asking many questions. Many of these questions we don’t have answers to…. “What do you think she will be like?” only time can tell us. We can seek guidance for some of our questions from others, or science, “Do you think she will have a lot of hair?” The 3D ultrasound we got and my terrible heartburn both confirmed yes, she will have a lot of hair. Perhaps most importantly, we can recognize our own agency in answering our questions, “Do you think I will be a good Mom?” I can choose to open my heart to my daughter, to love her endlessly, and to make decisions which I hope are in her best interest.
In our parsha this week, Sh’lach, Moses sends men to go and spy on the land of Canaan. He says to them, “See the Land—how is it?…And how is the Land in which it dwells—is it good or bad? And how is the land—is it fertile or is it lean? (B’midbar 13:18-20)”  Moses, at this moment of transition, has a list of questions he hopes to be answered in a clear cut way. Moses wants to know with certainty what the future holds. If only we too had a way to see with clarity what our futures hold, to see how our land will be.
Midrash Tanchuma teaches on the opening of our parsha, “Send men.” R. Aha the Great opened the discourse with Isaiah  40:8 “Grass withers, flowers fade, but the word of our God shall stand forever.”  The text reminds us of the incredible journey the Israelites have been on.  Abraham had no way of foreseeing what the path would look like on the way to God fulfilling the covenant, nor did any of our ancestors. It leaves the reader wondering why Moses chooses to send spies out at all. Perhaps it speaks to our deep human wish to know what tomorrow will bring.
Our parsha reminds us that while there are some questions in life that we can answer, none of us know with certainty what the path to the future looks like. Perhaps instead of going down the rabbit hole of trying to predict the unpredictable, we can focus instead on what we can control.
We can choose to go outside on a beautiful day and let the sun shine on our faces.
We can choose to pick up the phone and call a loved one and catch up.
We can choose to be an active member in our incredible Schechter community.
May we all be blessed with making peace with the uncertain and finding comfort in controlling what we can.
With Love, Rabbi Rebecca
Rabbi Rebecca Weinstein, Grade 6 Tanach, Grade 8 Torah She’b’al Peh

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