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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Land of Grapes

Such is Parshat Shelach. The Hebrews come so close to achieving the goal of entering the land. So close and yet, so far away. Due to fear, perhaps to a lack of psychological preparedness and perhaps, worst of all, in this narrative of preparation that we have followed week by week, a deficit of belief in the Great Power, the Creator, merits them the punishment of never entering The Land. And all because of grapes. Large and impossibly delicious grapes become the symbol of what could be, what someday will be and what will not be for the generation of the slaves that merited freedom from Egypt and slavery. And so it is. We have reached another turning point; another point of no return. A hope of success not achieved.

The Land of Grapes

I dreamed a dream

that one day I would travel to the land of grapes.

Giant grapes of deep purples and dusky blues;

dusted by the clouds,

bursting with sweetness,

covered with the dew of early morning,

kissed by the sun's rays.

The vines surrounded by a company of bees;

whose soft hums vibrate in the breeze.

I dreamed a dream...

and I could smell the sweetness before I saw the vines.

I stopped in my tracks,

lifted my head

closed my eyes and

sniffed the air,

searching for their location.

Oh, the sweetness of a vineyard,

whose perfume lies heavy in the summer air.

In my dream,

I saw that the land of giant grapes

which is over rocky hills and past a dry wadi.

One must cross a river to arrive

and keep many promises.

And believe.

I was unable to keep those promises.

I will never see those grapes,

glistening on the vine.

I will never taste their sweetness.

Never feel the stickiness of their juice

on my hands,

on my lips.

So I dream.


a forty year journey

through the desert.

There I shall fall,

all the while dreaming of grapes.

If only I had not seen those grapes.

If only they were brown,

shriveled on the vine,

or merely ordinary.

If only their smell was not intoxicating.

If only on that day the sky was not so impossibly blue

and the bees did not buzz their mesmerizing tune

and the hummingbirds did not

flutter among the blossoms.

Perhaps then my journey would have been shorter

and I would someday taste those grapes,

heavy and sweet on my tongue.

I dreamed of a land of giant grapes,

sweet and warm.

Where the land is brimming with honey,

flowing with milk

and I want to taste the grapes

but they are always too far to grasp....

and the people are giants

And I am only a grasshopper?

Oh, the sweetness of grapes.

Oh, the saltiness of tears.

Someday my daughters,

my sons

will find that land,

will cross those wadis

and then joyfully cross the river,

and enter the land of my dreams.

For they are my merit.

They will inhale the sweet smell of grapes

hold their fullness in their hands

and then my dream will be their truth.

וַיָּבֹ֜אוּ עַד־נַ֣חַל אֶשְׁכֹּ֗ל וַיִּכְרְת֨וּ מִשָּׁ֤ם זְמוֹרָה֙ וְאֶשְׁכּ֤וֹל עֲנָבִים֙ אֶחָ֔ד וַיִּשָּׂאֻ֥הוּ בַמּ֖וֹט בִּשְׁנָ֑יִם וּמִן־הָרִמֹּנִ֖ים וּמִן־הַתְּאֵנִֽים׃ They reached the wadi Eshcol, and there they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes—it had to be borne on a carrying frame by two of them—and some pomegranates and figs.

לַמָּק֣וֹם הַה֔וּא קָרָ֖א נַ֣חַל אֶשְׁכּ֑וֹל עַ֚ל אֹד֣וֹת הָֽאֶשְׁכּ֔וֹל אֲשֶׁר־כָּרְת֥וּ מִשָּׁ֖ם בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ That place was named the wadi Eshcol*Eshcol I.e., “cluster.” because of the cluster that the Israelites cut down there.

Numbers 13:23-24

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