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Upon reading this week’s Torah portion, I remembered the love I had for this hurting world

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What is despair? If it’s the belief that a situation can’t be helped, I believe I’ve been in a state of desperation as of late.

How strange that seems for me, when usually I feel as if the world is mine to adorn, that G-d created it imperfectly so that I might help reveal its magnificent wholeness.

But when things get so bad – pandemics, racism, riots – I crawl up into myself wondering: To what avail? Can the world be helped? I feel heavy with the questions of Job, shaking down G-d for answers. I peak my head out of the dark solitude I have created to preserve my sanity, gaze towards the heavens and ask wearily, “But why? There is some fatal flaw in Your creation!”

I believe this week’s Torah portion, Shelach, is arguably one of the most important. In it is found the source of our despair. Before entering the Promised Land, the collective brow of this fledgling nation grows heavy; the Israelites hesitate in suspicion. Can it be true that there is a better alternative to living in the desert?

The desert, despite its physical barrenness, fostered a life of spiritual ecstasy, unhindered by the trappings of physical necessity. G-d was seen absolutely everywhere. Food fell from the skies, their shoes grew with their feet, their clothes never soiled, a heavenly fire protected them by night, a cloud directed them by day, they never thirsted for water. The people, for all intents and purposes, lived in the heavens.

So, the nation demanded that 12 spies be sent to scout the land to see if the Promised Land would be anything like the spiritual oasis provided by the desert. The spies came back horrified – the land had neither the privacy nor the security the people came to know in their perfect desert existence.

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In their new and very real world, people fought, pain oozed from human hearts, fertile land needed plowing and sowing to yields it fruits, men and women needed to work for their food. Money, social status, power, strife and sickness, judicial courts, government and physical labor were all part of the new land. No, it could not be done; this land would only destroy them. The spies, upon their return, cried out, “The land we passed through to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants!”

They happened to be correct. The new land would bring distraction, danger and anxiety. The desert was a much more peaceful place. And yet G-d would not let up. There was something about the world in all of its human, earthly chaos that He so wanted for them. And in G-d planting us firmly into the earth, he barred us from ever inhabiting heaven again.

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Upon reading this week’s Torah portion, I remembered the love I had for this hurting world. I was reminded that G-d does not desire the desert, a life of spiritual perfection, and G-dly miraculousness; rather, He would like this world, messy, but beautified by human effort to heal it. This is the place. It has always been the place we were meant to inhabit.

I sighed with relief in my understanding that we are faced with a challenge that can be overcome; the game is rigged in our favor. The world is meant for healing.

And so, in my curled up state, afraid to go outside, I heard a familiar voice: G-d, too, peaks out from his heavenly abode, his answer always the same. “Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell if you know understanding. In [all] your days, did you command the morning? Did you tell the dawn its place?” (Job 38:4)

G-d beckons me, “Leave the desert, your work is not yet done.”

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And so, with frustration in knowing how, but not why, I gird my loins and set out again to repair the world around me. I take up my teaching, hold firmly to the Torah and preach to the universe that there is a G-d and the world He formed is so, so good.

The world resembles my parents’ house on a Saturday night after all nine children and six grandchildren have been there; messy, sometimes dirty, with clear signs of having been lived in well. It’s brimming and overflowing with love and light.

Thirsty souls, if you are in despair, might I remind you of the maddening, frustrating mission defining our people for millennia – to make this world in the image of He who conceived it. To create Heaven on Earth.

Rochel Leah Boteach is the force behind The Thirsty Souls. A fierce advocate for 

female Torah scholarship and leadership, she created her page determined to teach Torah to all people in all places. She is on a mission to nourish and nurture a living, breathing Judaism for all.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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