Ariel Ben Avraham
Ariel Ben Avraham

Parshat Shelach: Trusting God’s Love

In Behaalotecha, the episode of lust experienced by some of the children of Israel was a clear signal that they were not ready to occupy the promised land at that time.

In Shelach that signal proved the fact. In those times (as well as in our current times) we knew that conquering our lower thoughts, emotions, passions and instincts is not an easy task unless we are completely aware that God’s Love is not only what sustains every aspect of our life, but also our sole redeemer when we are trapped in the illusions of our lower consciousness.

However, most of our sages don’t agree on this view and righteously say that the children of Israel were indeed ready to enter the land of Canaan, but not willing to do it. They correctly point out that the comfort of depending solely from God in the desert was preferred to facing and eventually conquering the negative aspects with which ego wants to direct our consciousness.


True, when we are all the time with God’s love there is nothing to be conquered because we belong to His oneness. But God wants us with His love to conquer darkness as the negative aspect of consciousness. In order to achieve this task we have to trust love. It makes sense to doubt when we don’t feel prepared for a task, hence our duty is to defeat doubt with the full certainty that love is constantly with us.

In the case of our forefathers, they had major proofs of the power of God’s love: their Redemption from Egypt, the splitting of the sea, and the miracles they witnessed daily in the desert. Why then not trusting God after so many tangible proofs of His love? We now also experience His miracles every moment, and still we don’t trust Him completely.

We trust money more than love, in spite of knowing quite well that without love we can’t live. We rather believe that ego’s fantasies and illusions are far better than living in the truthfulness of love. After all, we live in a material reality in which ego’s illusions are the ones to pursue, to live by them and die by them. The point again is either to believe and trust love or not, and that’s the whole point of this portion in the Torah.

We say that love is about trust, and trust is about love. This is the foundation of our relationship with God’s love, the marriage between Israel and Him. In this case the story of the spies is again about trust.

“(…) ‘send for yourself (shelach lecha) men who will scout the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel’.” (Numbers 11:2)

They may have trusted God but not what He could do for them when they had to face lust, greed, envy, arrogance and the negative aspects consciousness represented by the Canaanite nations. Under the circumstances, common sense tells us that they just didn’t trust God at all. Otherwise they would have entered the promised land immediately as originally planned.

There is an important issue we have to raise, and it is free will. God does not impose His will on us. That is why He created us, so we use our intellect and common sense to choose goodness over evil, and love over ego’s fantasies and illusions.

The text is clear. “Send for yourself men” (lit. send for you people), you (Moses) let them make their choice; and they did. They chose to stay in the desert and die there under the care and protection of God’s love, instead of letting Him guide them and conquer the lower aspects of consciousness. And so it was. God’s love let that generation die during the following 38 years, and He prepared the next generation to fulfill His plan for Israel.

The narrative is very explicit in its imagery of what the spies “saw” in the land. Again it is reiterated that distrusting our Creator and sole nurturer carries our death under the illusions of our lower consciousness.

After the episode of the spies, the portion continues with additional sacrifices to be offered in the Tabernacle when living in the Land of Israel.

“And for the drink-offering you shall present the third part of a hin of wine, of a sweet flavor to the Lord.” (15:7)

Our sages explain that this additional wine offering was not burnt but poured, meaning that we not only elevate all aspects of consciousness to God, but also pour down to the material world our goodness and happiness (represented by the libations) in order to celebrate His glory, His love in this world.

“(…) when you eat of the bread of the Land, you shall set apart a portion for a gift to the Lord.” (15:19)

This is the commandment of challah that also represents the permanent connection with our Creator. The bread of the land is the result of how we transform the raw food of the earth (wheat) into bread as darkness into light, a process in which every step we are united to God’s love.

The portion ends with another reminder that being and doing God’s ways and attributes are our connection with His love.


“And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the Commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that you go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you use to go astray; that you may remember and do all My Commandments, and be holy.” (15:39-40)

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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