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 Parshat  Shelach

  By Chana Engel  

 There’s an image of Rabbis in my imagination,

Cross-legged, on mountain tops, in deep meditation.

I thought Judaism was a spiritual religion,

But I learnt very quickly that I was mistaken.


If you skim through a book on Jewish Law,

You’d find rules about slaughtering, farming and more.

It’s not the lofty ideas we’re expected to learn,

The Torah’s full of dry, everyday concerns.


So I realized Judaism was shallow and earthly,

But the lofty ideas seemed better, truthfully…


When the Jews in the desert neared their destination,

They sent spies - to see the Land, and its inhabiting nations.

Who were frightened by the giants they saw, and on that premise,

Spoke badly of the Land G‑d had promised to us.


How could such great men fall so low in sin?

Had they no faith that G‑d would help them to win?


The issue ran deeper – to the question of lifestyle,

They found living in the desert simply more worthwhile.

Their needs were looked after, manna fell from the sky,

They could sit and learn Torah, reaching a spiritual high.


They’d have to close their books, once they settled the land,

Roll up their sleeves because there’s work in demand.

Farming and plowing, seemed such a mundane existence,

And that’s why the spies displayed such resistance.


They too saw Judaism as a spiritual religion,

And there was something flawed about their definition.


G‑d doesn’t need an, ‘out of this world’ service,

Angels can do a far better job than us.

We’re not meant to fly away, nor to hibernate,

There’s a whole world out there to elevate!


We have to live in this world, work with it,

Farm your land – the way Torah permits,

Turn everyday tasks into something Divine,

Make this world a conduit where G‑dliness can shine.


Now my definition of Judaism’s undergone a rebirth,

It’s about bringing heaven down to earth.



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