JUNE 8-9, 2002 28 SIVAN 5762
When Moshe sent the twelve spies into the land, he changed his student's name from Hoshea to Yehoshua by adding a letter Yud to his name. The Rabbis tell us he took the letter Yud from the name of Sarah, our Matriarch, whose name was originally Sarai, and so the Yud from her name went to Yehoshua. What is the symbolism behind this message?
Sarah was the one who told Abraham to drive Yishmael out from the house because she saw him as a negative influence on her son, Yitzhak. Hashem agreed with Sarah and commanded Abraham to listen to Sarah. Here too, the lesson is that if Yehoshua wants to be the one to conquer and distribute the land to the Jewish people, he must remove all negative influences from their environment. To establish a proper community, we must be on guard that only positive and proper lessons be instilled within us and our children. That is the legacy of Sarah Imenu and that is what Yehoshua was to follow in setting up the land of Israel! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"One man each from their father's tribe shall you send" (Bemidbar 13:2)
There are moments in life that are unique and special and can never be recaptured in the history of a people. There are moments of opportunity which present themselves that can alter the course of that people's history. The Jews could have entered the land of Israel within a period of three days had they not been misled by the spies. By allowing the opportunity to slip away they were forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years.
The great Rabbi Alshich has a question. Why in the above verse is it written "eesh ehad - one man" - twice? The verse would have been understood just as well had it been written once. The Alshich (as quoted by Rabbi Pelcowitz) explains that Moshe Rabenu was very concerned about this mission from the outset. He was worried these men would slander the land and convince the people not to enter the land of Israel. Moshe had a plan that in order to lessen the possibility of slander and deceit he would eliminate the representatives of two tribes that had these dangerous character flaws. Yehudah was guilty of deception when he showed his father the bloody tunic of Yosef and said to him, "Is this your son's tunic or not?" (Beresheet 37:32). Yosef was guilty of bringing evil reports about his brothers to his father: "And Yosef would bring evil reports about them to their father" (ibid 37:2). Moshe Rabenu was afraid that the tribe of Yosef would again show the trait of slander by speaking against the land and Yehudah would try to convince the people not to enter the land.
So Moshe wanted to leave out a representative from Yehudah. Also, from Yosef's tribe, which is usually two, Menasheh and Efraim, he would eliminate Efraim, the younger one. All this to reduce the risk. However, Hashem said "eesh ehad eesh ehad" - you must send one man from each tribe, even from Yosef you must send two, because "kol nassi bahem" - "Every prince among them," which prevents the elimination of Efraim, since he has his own prince. What Moshe wanted to do seemed logical, but that wasn't the Divine plan.
Had Moshe implemented his plan he would have eliminated Caleb (from Yehudah) and Yehoshua (from Efraim). These turned out to be the only ones who spoke well about the land and insisted that the Israelites enter right away! We learn that what logic dictates is not always the correct path. Hashem and His Divine Providence often decrees that the best and finest people come from the most unexpected source. We never know where our salvation will come from. If we only rely on our own logic, we can lose Caleb and Yehoshua! Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"And we were in our own eyes as grasshoppers and so we were in their eyes" (Bemidbar 13:33)
The Kotzker Rebbe remarks that this statement was considered to be one of the sins of the spies. Although it was wrong to be bothered by their own smallness in contrast to the giants of the land, it was also improper to be concerned by the people's opinion of them. What interest was it to them in what manner they were being viewed by others? The sentiments of others shouldn't affect a man's righteous mission. Perhaps we may add that this feeling of inferiority displayed by the spies was the source of their misinterpretation and slanderous views of Eres Yisrael. One who is insecure and feels ill at ease with his mission in life will often slander and malign those whom he senses are opposed to him. The litmus test of one's confidence in his convictions is the ability to maintain an aura of dignity and nobility, without reducing himself to slander in the face of opposition. Intolerance is a reflection of insecurity. (Peninim on the Torah)
This week's Haftarah: Yehoshua 2:1-24.
Our perashah tells the story of the spies who brought back an evil report of the land, leading to Israel's 40 year wandering in the desert. In this haftarah, Yehoshua sends two spies to the city of Jericho. This mission was not for military purposes, but to find out if the residents of the land feared B'nei Yisrael, which would be considered a sign from Hashem that the time was right to attack.
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