Wednesday, August 19, 2009

There might be giants!

Welcome to the blog! I leave for Israel, to spend a year (and hopefully 2 years) studying, this year at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, in exactly one week. I am busy, excited, overwhelmed, and impatient to get to Israel - but there's a long (color-coded) to-do list and lots of goodbyes beforehand.

The title for the blog comes from Parshat Sh'lach L'cha, in which Moses, under God's command, sends 12 scouts into Canaan to...
...see what kind of country it is. Are the people who dwell in it strong or weak, few or many? Is the country in which they dwell good or bad? Are the towns in which they live in open or fortified? Is the soil rich or poor? Is it wooded or not? And take pains to bring back some of the fruit of the land. (Numbers 13:18-20)
What kind of land will I find? What are the fruits I will bring back? Will the people and communities be open, welcoming, nurturing, and challenging? Will the learning be the learning I am craving? Will the hummus be delicious? (I think that answer is an unequivocal yes.)

When I first studied this Torah portion, the summer I was a Machon (counselor-in-training) at Eisner, we framed the Shabbat service we led on the Shabbat before we became bunk counselors around the idea of "there might be giants!" The scouts don't know what challenges await them in the Land of Canaan, but are terrified at the strength and power of its giant inhabitants. Yet Caleb and Joshua describe the land as "tovah ha'aretz m'od m'od - an exceedingly good land." They are confident that the Israelites have the power, creativity, and resources to make a good life for themselves in this exceedingly good land.

There will for sure be challenges, maybe in the form of giants, in the months ahead (there are already how to pack my life into 2 duffel bags, and see my brother and sister for too short a time between their return from camp and my flight next Wednesday), but there will also be an exceedingly good land, flowing with milk and honey and filled with fruit, to explore.


  1. I remember that portion well from our Chevruteam. Miss you Miriam!

  2. Miriam,
    I am so proud of the person you are and the choice you have made for this year.
    Love you,