Parshat Shlach. Scouts on my mind.
Still, I didn’t think much about our first scout. Probably crossed the threshold through our open front door. Or rode in on the back of a cat.
“Good morning!” Said my husband the next day. “We have ants.”
“Did you deport them?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “I killed them.”
But they kept coming. In twos and threes, walking in wide circles along the kitchen counter. Occasionally I would reach down to pick one up, hoping to deport it out the back door. The little group would scatter, hide, and re-convene.
For three days I kept the counter meticulously clean. Only one bowl of food stayed out. A fruit bowl with thick skinned avocado, orange, and banana.
On the third day, the scouts returned home. To the big collective, to file their report.
What kind of report did they bring? A mixed one, for sure.
“It’s a wow!” said some scouts. “Abundant! There’s giant fruit! A group of us working together could carry it home. Let’s do it!”
“No,” said some other scouts. “It’s not safe. Not worth the risk. Giant animals live there, ready to swoop down and squash us like bugs!”
Imagine the community response. A thousand ants shouting, “No, no, no more risk! We lost too many on the last job.” One or two hushing the crowd to offer a counter-argument. “We are ants! Risk is what we do! Have faith in your comrades. We can bring back the goods!”
Oh my gosh, the Torah is such a funny document!
You don’t get the joke yet? Here’s Parshat Shlach:
Twelve Israelite scouts report on their visit to the land of Canaan.
“Look at this giant fruit!” they say. “You need two people just to carry a cluster of grapes.”
“But,” they add, “the people are gigantic. Next to them, we feel like bugs!”
One scout wants to go back. “We can do it!”
Ten scouts disagree. “The place will eat us.”
Israelites melt down. Moses and Aaron fall on their faces. God loses patience.
The irony? Bugs are powerful. Think ants, bees, moths, locusts. If these insects decide to invade, we cannot stop them.
If only the Israelites had felt more like bugs. Determination. Courage. Mutual support. Imagine the community response!
For more perspectives on Parshat Shlach (Numbers 13:1-15:41), click here.