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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

If Only

This is a second poem about Parshat Sh'lach....because there is so much to write about.

The Hebrews in the desert were not known for their patience or forbearance. In Parshat Sh'lach, we witness a tragic scene. As the scouts return from The Land with an abundance of produce and reports of the strength of its inhabitants, the majority of the scouts express fear and anxiety over taking The Land, rather than excitement. Perhaps is was the mob mentality, perhaps the anxiety of their life in Egypt, but what we hear are a series of complaints and a loud declaration that it is time to return to life in Egypt, live or die. Their diatribe begins with the words ,לוּ־מַ֙תְנוּ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם א֛וֹ בַּמִּדְבָּ֥ר הַזֶּ֖ה לוּ־מָֽתְנוּ׃, "If only....If only we had died in the land of Egypt!"

These two words, "If only" or the Hebrew word לוּ have been used by all of us at some point in our lives. Looking backwards and bemoaning decisions we have made. This piece is more of a reflection of the many occasions that this phrase is used, both out loud and in our thoughts.

May we all merit to look forward instead of backwards.

If Only

If only I had eaten better,

if only I hadn’t had so much to drink,

if only I didn’t like sugar so much,

if only I had exercised,

if only I have read more books,

if only we had tried harder,

if only I went back,

if only I had waited,

if only I had been more thoughtful,

if only I had told the truth,

if only I had been nicer,

if only I hadn’t lost my temper,

if only I had followed the law,

if only I had read the fine print,

if only I could return,

if only I could go forward,

if only I had laughed more,

if only I had forgiven,

if only I had been forgiven,

if only I could find the words,

if only I hadn’t spoken too much,

if only I could see now what I saw then,

if only my eyes were not clouded,

if only I could rewrite it,

if only I could erase it,

if only I could add one more word,

if only I had reached out,

if only I had replied,

if only if only I had stepped in,

if only I had stepped away,

if only the tides would turn,

if only others could hear me,

if only I could hear others,

if only I could see them one more time,

if only once more

if only

if only

if only

וַיִּלֹּ֙נוּ֙ עַל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְעַֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן כֹּ֖ל בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַֽיֹּאמְר֨וּ אֲלֵהֶ֜ם כׇּל־הָעֵדָ֗ה לוּ־מַ֙תְנוּ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם א֛וֹ בַּמִּדְבָּ֥ר הַזֶּ֖ה לוּ־מָֽתְנוּ׃

All the Israelites railed against Moses and Aaron.

“If only we had died in the land of Egypt,” the whole community shouted at them, “or if only we might die in this wilderness!”

Numbers 14:2

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