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June 15, 2012 / 25 Sivan, 5772

Parashat Sh'lach L'cha

Joshua 2:1-24

Poised to enter The Land of Canaan and fulfill God’s promise, God commands Moshe to send twelve men to scout out the land and the inhabitants. Ten of the twelve scouts return with a negative report but two scouts, Joshua and Caleb, returned with a positive report. The people believed the majority and in doing so doubted God’s covenant. As a result, the generation that left Egypt was prohibited from entering into Israel.

The Haftarah, taken from the Book of Joshua (2:1-24) continues the story line nearly thirty-nine years later. In the Haftarah the new generation of Bnai Israel is now finally spiritually ready to retry entry into the land. Having learned from his predecessor Moshe, Joshua sent only two spies, to go and observe the land and Jericho. Joshua didn’t send the scouts in order to receive a report of what the land was like or whether or not they could even enter into the land. Rather Joshua sent the scouts to ascertain whether this was the appropriate moment to invade. There would be no doubt that Bnai Israel would enter the land only a question of when. As a result the nature of the report would be completely different from that of the ten scouts.

Earlier last week, two dates worthy of commemoration came and went rather quietly, June 5th and June 6th. For an entire generation June 6th was better known as “D Day”, the day in which the allied forces began the process of saving the world from Nazi Germany. When contemplating the sheer amount of materials, boats, supplies, weapons, soldiers, tactical planning and strategic planning; it truly was an awesome demonstration of ingenuity, leadership and planning. Make no mistake; there was an enormous amount of intelligence as well. General Eisenhower and the Allied leadership knew which beaches were least protected, they knew the currents, they knew the moon’s cycle, they knew the number of German soldier that were stationed throughout Normandy’s beaches. With all that Military intelligence, I used to wonder if the gatherers of “intel” began their mission with an agenda of “should we invade” or “we are planning an invasion and we need to figure out the best and most efficient way to succeed”. I think that if the “spies” went to the coast of Normandy with the former attitude, then D Day probably would never have happened. Thankfully General Eisenhower and his leadership had the attitude of the two spies who encountered Rahab and reported back to Joshua: “They said to Joshua , For God has given all the land into our hands; also all the inhabitants of the Land Have melted before us” (Joshua 2:24).

June 5th is a day that resonates with Israel, marking the beginning of the 6 Day War in 1967. For an entire generation, the world witnessed what some construe as a miracle and others view as the result of brilliant planning. Watching military activity on their border with Egypt, as well as intercepting communications between their surrounding enemies, Israel anticipated that a coordinated attack from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. When contemplating the sheer speed and efficiency of Israel’s response, it truly was an awesome demonstration of ingenuity, leadership and tactical planning. Make no mistake, there was an enormous amount of intelligence as well. Israeli engineers had figured out an efficient method of refitting aircraft so they were capable of making twice as many sorties as enemy aircraft. Israel had target markers set up in Syria as well as knowing the most difficult terrain to be avoided by Israeli tanks. Israel knew exactly where to find Egyptian airbases and the types of planes on each base so that the Egyptian air force would be grounded immediately. Do you think that gatherers of this Military intel began with the attitude of “can we defeat an invading army” or “we need to prepare for an imminent enemy attack, what information do we need that will allow us the best and most efficient means of defeating our enemy.” Had Israel adopted the former attitude and mission, there would be no Israel today. Thankfully Generals Moshe Dayan and Brigadier General Yeshiahu Gavish possessed the same attitude as the two scouts who encountered Rahab, reminding us that in order to solve problems and deal with hardship, we must possess unshakable faith that we can find an answer.

Rabbi Leslie Lipson is the Associate Rabbi at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue in Toronto, Canada. He grew up in Rochester, New York where he attended Beth El; attending Camp Ramah in Canada as both a camper and on staff.  After graduating from Haverford College,  Rabbi Lipson traded currency on Wall Street and then received an MBA at York University.  After working in the foreign exchange industry for several more years, Rabbi Lipson decided to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary. While studying for rabbinic ordination, he also received a Masters in Education.

NEW! We welcome online comments on The Unraveller at Mentschen.org.

New Publications

Leadership - Innovation - Community
Understanding the Haftarot:
An Everyperson's Guide

In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
You can purchase it a number of ways:
It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!

HeneniThe "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life. Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin. A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice. Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes. Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression. Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event. The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin. The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.

World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Bar Mitzvah Wrap!

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