Our niece got married last weekend. We were up in the Redwoods of Northern California for the wedding. It was pretty cold, actually, but it was the warmest group of people. Our niece has had some significant pain in her life, and it was such joy to see her happy. She found one great guy.
When we first got the save-the-date call, Torah-geeky Aunt Anita immediately went to the calendar to see what the “wedding parasha” was. And it was a beauty; this wrote itself. I found a couple of minutes with the bride and groom to share these thoughts, but it was pretty rushed. So, I’m sharing their wedding parasha toast here.
Shelach l’cha. Go forth. In this parasha, Moses has brought the people to the edge of the Land, not long after leaving Egypt. But the people are freaked out, not knowing what’s ahead. So God tells Moses to gather the leaders of each of the tribes, twelve men in all, and send them into the Land to scope it out. Moses sent them off with specific charges: How’s the soil? How’s the land? How are the people? Do they live in walled cities?
The scouts spend three months on this reconnoiter mission, and come back with a report. Moses gathers the entire community to hear them. But it doesn’t go well. Ten of the twelve scouts say it’s a doomed mission.There are giants in the land, they think they look like grasshoppers to the giants. The cities are huge and fortified. Basically, they said, “We’re gonna die. It’s hopeless.”
Two scouts, however, had a different takeaway. Joshua and Caleb said, “Hey, we’ll be fine, as long as we trust in God. And by the way, the soil is great – we stopped at a farmer’s market, and brought you all back some amazing grapes.” God wasn’t impressed with the other ten scouts’ lack of faith, and because of them, the entire community had to go back into the wilderness and wander around for another 38 years, so that faithless generation would die out. But in reward for Joshua and Caleb’s trust in God, they were allowed to live long enough to go into the Land; in fact, Joshua was chosen as Moses’ successor.
Marriage is an unknown, scary uncharted territory, and our niece and her new husband were standing at the edge, ready to go in. It won’t work out, people say, you’re opening yourself up for a lot of hurt. But they were unconvinced by the doomsday reports; they were armed with faith and hope and love, and they were ready to take on the giants.
So here’s Aunt Anita’s toast: Be Caleb and Joshua. Keep your love for each other safe inside the walled cities, but make sure the walls aren’t too high, so you’re open to new possibilities in your life together. Find the fertile soil for a family, and a future. Stay connected to others outside your safe walls. Don’t listen to those around you who tell you how hard it will be in the new land. You know that. But you also know that you are prepared, you’ve scouted out the terrain, and you want to step over the boundary to building a life with each other. Relish that. Revel in this new land. Be Caleb and Joshua. And always find a farmers’ market.
We love you.