Divrei Torah

Shlach Lecha


The important question of a spiritual quest is to gauge for yourself where the rakiya the firmament situates for you, where heaven and earth meet. Some people say high in the sky; others say in the heart, or in the motion of the melody, or in the gleam of the breath. The angels ask, where is the place of god’s glory? As the prophet Isaiah writes and as we recite in the Musaf Kiddusha, Eyem makom kevodo? Where’s the throne of glory? And the famous response of the Kotzker Rebbe went to the quick : God’s glory is wherever you let him in, says the Kotzker rebbe. What power the Kotzer Rebbe gives to mankind!


It is so that our reality stems from our Weltanschauung; we live in what we see and we find God in that affirmation. And what we see, the Baal Shem Tov says, is always ourselves. This is the image of God as our perception of the world and ourselves, that what we like and love, what we disdain and reject is always ourselves. In the midst of the garden, in the background is always the ideal, of that godly center of the world. And so we live in this imagination, in our dreams, and our waking world.


Moshe Rabeinu is told by God to send himself to the Promised Land, shlach lecha, As similarly, Avram Avinu was commanded twice, lech lecha, go yourself, once to the cherished land and once to the holy mountain Moriah.  God is now fulfilling the message at the burning bush that he will bring out the people to the land. There Moshe will not be permitted personally to enter. But he is to send his best reflection of himself to fulfill the promise . He tells Moshe that he will be sent there first. Each tribe’s choicest artists is instructed in how to see the holy land: see if the land is good or bad, see if it’s fat or lean. Tell me about the trees; be strengthened by the fruit of the trees. Two of the leaders sent from Moshe’s ken, Caleb ben Jephunneh representing Yehuda, the husband of Miriam, Moses’ sister, and Hoshea ben Nun, of the tribe of Ephraim, Moses’ successor. These two went to Hebron, the Midrash tell us, and spent there 40 days at the machbeilah , praying at Abraham’s tomb. Holiness is by the merit of our forefathers and foremothers and that is why they were fortified; they went to Israel in search of the spiritual, the spirituality. They went to Canaan for the spirituality infused by the holy one to our ancestors to us. And so they could tell the Israelites how perfectly we belong there. There are Jews today who tell us we can’t measure to Moses’ ideals. We don’t have the right Torah in the state of Israel . But Moses didn’t send the spies to survey the landscape; no Jew can live superficially there. We go to Israel to attach to the kiddusha that we were created for, that god created in us. At mount Sinai, we became a people, and once we incorporated the Torah into us, our mitzvot always carry us to Eretz Israel. This is the Jewish quest.


Again it is what we apprehend. The parsha ends with the tsitsit : in the midst of the white threads we are commanded to look at the blue; the blue, the rabbis tell us, was in the midnight sky over Jerusalem. This is the blue to seek; this was the blue of the Mediterranean, deep in the reflection of  the  deep throne of glory where God resides. And the rabbis tell us that the rakiya meets the earthly plane and is tied together from God’s holy tallis. There is where the royal purple and the royal blue enter the world. The tsitsit reach from heaven to our world and we can see the royal depths of God’s blue anywhere. And the prayer of that invisible thread, the fourth petil tchalet, is recited every morning and will be recited by everyone and at the end of days: Sheh asani kirtsono. There are no boundaries of separation, but always of connection. And so in this way we actually do bring Moshe Rabeinu to enter the Holy Land with us. Shabbat Shalom.





One thought on “Shlach Lecha

  1. Oh, how blessed, what a blessing, and how our smallness leaves room for greatness to enter. The blue of our sky, the joy of our earth, the gift of your words.
    Thank you, Ronnie, for all that flows through you

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