Rabbi Eisen’s Shabbat Shalom Message

Shabbat Shalom!


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Click here for full text of the
Torah and Haftarah portions.


Candlelighting for
Friday, July 1, 2016 • 7:16pm

• Our Portion for the Week


In this portion the Israelites approach the border of Canaan, and Moses sends 12 princes of the tribes to scout the land. Among them are Caleb and Joshua. The scouts' mission is to investigate the natural properties of the land and evaluate the strength of its people. After 40 days the scouts return bearing a single cluster of grapes so heavy that it takes two men to carry it on a pole between them. They report that the land is indeed bountiful, but it is inhabited by powerful people living in fortified cities. Ten scouts maintain that the Israelites are too weak to conquer the land, but Caleb and Joshua argue that if the people have faith in God and His promise they will be able to overcome the inhabitants. The people accept the majority report, thus incurring God's wrath. He decrees that they will spend 40 years in the wilderness until an entire generation dies out and a free generation grows up. Only Caleb and Joshua will survive to enter the land. Thus begins the wilderness wandering. The portion ends with instructions to the Israelites to tie fringes (tzitzit) on the corners of their garments to remind them of God's commandments.

• Our Question for the Week •

Moses changed the name of Hosea son of Nun to Joshua.
(Numbers 13:16)

Hosea/Joshua's name change places him in rarified company. What does he have in common with Abram/Abraham, Sarai/Sarah, Jacob/Israel, Joseph/Tzafnat-Pa'aneach?

What motivated Moses to change Joshua's name? To elevate Joshua's public standing? To endorse him as successor? To honor him? To encourage him? To articulate his expectations for his "attendant"? As a term of endearment and sign of affection?

Was Moses rewarding Joshua for an admirable humility… or attempting to counter a diffidence that might have threatened Joshua's future as leader? Moses himself was celebrated for his personal modesty.

Parents selecting names for their children, like converts to Judaism choosing a Hebrew name… have a powerful opportunity to give expression to values, prayerful hopes and aspirations. If you were to change (or add to) your own name, what statement would you want to make? How might you do that?