Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:
The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Shlach tells the story of God instructing Moses to send men to the land of Canaan – the Israelite’s future home – to scope out the situation. Unfortunately they come back with a mostly negative report – of fierce people, fortified cities, and an inhospitable land. Not surprisingly, the report discourages the Israelites from entering Canaan and God punishes them with 40 years of desert wandering.
According to 16th century commentator, Kli Yakar, the tragedy might have been averted if Moses sent women spies instead of men. Why? As Dvar Tzedek author Sigal Samuel writes, “The Kli Yakar’s reasoning is simple: whereas the male Israelites show a lack of investment in the land, the female Israelites show great love for it. Had Moses sent female spies, the Kli Yakar suggests, they would have seen the same terrifying sights as their male counterparts; but, driven by their love for the land, they would have focused on long-term solutions instead of becoming discouraged in the face of difficulty.”
The takeaway: Samuel writes, the parsha reminds us that “like the Israelite women, the women of today’s world [ed. note: and particularly in developing countries] show a great aptitude for creating and implementing the future-oriented plans their nations need—when they are given equal opportunity to do so.” They tend to invest in education and long-term strategies for the health of their communities. (Read more evidence about that here.)
The “to-do”: Invest in the world’s shared future. Donate to micro-loan organizations that support the work of women (and men!) farmers, small business owners and entrepreneurs in the America and across the developing world. Orgs to check out: KIVA, WomenVenture, and Accion.
Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website. And for more great texts, commentary and Jewish learning resources on social justice, check out the On 1 Foot database.