In this week’s Torah portion, Shelach L’cha, it tells us that spies are sent out ahead of our people to scout the Land of Israel to report on the inhabitants and the country. Despite the positive report of Joshua and Caleb, that the land was “flowing with milk and honey,” our people were also frightened knowing that the nations who already inhabited the land were much larger and stronger. (Numbers 13:1–14:10)
This past weekend, I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to be with my family to celebrate the wonderful Bat Mitzvah of my oldest sister’s child, Marissa- my niece. Traveling out there, I myself, felt like a spy, reporting to my family and friends back home, answering their questions- “Is it safe out there?” “Are people still wearing masks in Arizona?” “What are people’s behavior?” “Is everything open?”
It was really my first venture that far out from home since the start of the pandemic. This visit included a flight across the country, going to restaurants, and socializing beyond my usual pod. Trepid and cautious, I ventured out.
Throughout the Torah, there are moments when our people had to venture out and perhaps “unmask” in the physical, emotional and spiritual sense. If we look deeply into this week’s Torah portion we find some wisdom in relationship to fielding these new found fears. In Numbers 13:30, Caleb encourages us to have faith “for we shall surely overcome it.” God supports and praises Caleb reminding our people of the miracles and marvels of the past; these promises will continue to happen. Beyond having faith, we are reminded that once we are in this new place, we have to continue the framework of life, which includes laws, and rituals that strengthen our sense of community.
As we unmask and emerge, may we remember what we have learned while being distanced from each other, that we are more committed to keeping each other safe, loved and embraced. May we walk into new territory with a new sense of commitment to one another and to our KI community.
On Friday, June 18th, we too will officially open our doors for Shabbat worship together in person. Streaming services will also continue. We will keep our masks on in our sacred spaces to ensure peace of mind, body and spirit for all. Come back to KI with a positive mindset and embrace the strength found in the framework that IS community.
Cantor Amy E. Levy