Please note that service reminders aim to build a bridge between the last Saturday service two weeks before and the one being announced. They will therefore often focus on the previous parshah rather than on the one in the title.

“How long shall this nation continue to provoke Me?… I will kill them with a plague and annihilate them.” So says God when the spies return from spying out the land and the people complain against Moses and Aaron for bringing them there. Is it any wonder that God becomes angry? What a fractious lot we have been. Despite being fed manna from the skies, we groan for meat. Despite being brought to the very gates of the promised land, we lose faith and are filled with terror. Even Aaron and Miriam complain against Moses. Our miserable behaviour is more marked by coming so soon after the tribal leaders brought generous gifts for the altar. Is it not enough that God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm? Is it not enough that he has fed us and protected us from our enemies, guiding us with his presence and communing with our leader? It looks like we have a long way to go before we will be ready to commit ourselves to our destiny as a free people dedicated to God and to building His just and holy society.

Look to the future, but remember the past and remember God. We are given many props and structures to help us, the most recent of which are ‘tzitzit’, which we are commanded to wear at the very end of Sh’lach L’cha, a fitting conclusion to a parsha which begins by telling us to send out for ourselves and explore the territory we are to inhabit.

Surely, the complaining, the fear, the backbiting must be finished. Unfortunately, they aren’t, for along comes Korach, accompanied by Dathan and Aviram, to rail against Moses and Aaron and demand power for themselves. One of the ironies is, of course, that Moses, the humblest man alive, never wanted power. Korach and his fellow rebels are in for a shock which must now put an end to the complaining, but it doesn’t. To find out what happens next and how it is dealt with come along this Saturday at 10.30. Pat Lipert will be leading us.