subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:SHOLOM613@AOL.COM



Ch. 13, v. 8: "L'ma'tei Efroyim Hoshei'a BIN Nun - For the tribe of Efrayim Hoshei'a the son on Nun - The word BIN, meaning "the son of" is normally found with the vowel "segol," allowing it to be pronounced BEN. However by Yehoshua we always find BIN, with a "chirik" vowel. This can be explained with the gemara Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 2:6 and M.R. Breishis beginning of 47:1. They say that the Yud from Sorai's name was placed at the beginning of Hoshei'a's name and it was changed to Yehoshua. The letter Yud was replaced in her name with a letter Hei, and thus changed to Soroh. Since the letter Yud while in the name Sorai had no vowel connected to it, two dots of the "segol" vowel of the word BEN were taken, creating a "shvo" vowel, and placed under the Yud, which now resided at the beginning of the name Yehoshua and thus required a vowel. This leaves us with only one dot, a "chirik," under the letter Beis, hence BIN and not BEN.

Although this is an innovative answer to the question, it seems to be problematic as in our verse as well as in verse 16 we find "Hoshei'a BIN Nun."

Ch. 13, v. 16: "Vayikroh Moshe l'Hosheia bin Nun Yehoshua" - And Moshe named Hoshei'a the son of Nun Yehoshua - The gemara Sotoh 34b says that the name change alludes to Moshe's praying for Yehoshua, "Koh yoshiacho mei'atzas m'raglim," - may Hashem save you from the counsel of the spies. Why didn't Moshe pray for all the other spies as well?

The Holy Zohar page 157a writes that the reason the ten spies spoke badly of Eretz Yisroel was because they knew that their positions as tribal leaders would only last as long as they remained in the desert. Upon entry to Eretz Yisroel new tribal heads would be appointed.

Moshe felt that these great leaders would surely come to their senses and not let this personal consideration stand in the way of their bringing back a most promising report that would enthuse the bnei Yisroel to conquer Eretz Yisroel with a feeling of security. However he feared that Yehoshua would fall pray to a "frum" consideration. Eldod and Meidod prophesized that Moshe would die and Yehoshua would lead the bnei Yisroel into Eretz Yisroel (Rashi Bmidbar 11:28 and Sifri 11:21). Yehoshua was very upset with the remarks of Eldod and Meidod as evidenced by his response, "Adoni Moshe klo'eim," - my master Moshe, incarcerate them (Bmidbar 11:28). Moshe therefore feared that Yehoshua would report very negatively in the hope that the bnei Yisroel would refuse to enter Eretz Yisroel, and Moshe would remain their leader. This is why Moshe prayed only for Yehoshua. (K'hilas Yitzchok)

Perhaps we can offer a new insight into the above-mentioned Sifri. Moshe might have feared that Yehoshua would fall victim to the same considerations as the other tribal leaders had, that they would lose their positions upon entering Eretz Yisroel. Moshe therefore changed Hoshei'a's name to Yehoshua so that Yehoshua could be the fulfillment of the prophecy that Moshe will die and YEHOSHUA will lead the bnei Yisroel into Eretz Yisroel. Hoshei'a could not be the leader, as Yehoshua was the name of Moshe's replacement. Thus Yehoshua could be saved from the counsel of the other spies by being in a different position.

Ch. 13, v. 28: "V'he'orim b'tzuros g'dolos m'ode" - And the cities are extremely fortified - Rashi says in the name of Targum Onkelos that "b'tzuros" means that they are built in a circular manner. Of what significance is this? Rabbi Zalman Volozhiner answers that Rashi on Vayikroh 14:3 comments that Hashem gave the bnei Yisroel good news when telling them that their homes in Eretz Yisroel would be afflicted with "tzoraas." They would be required to destroy their homes and upon doing so would discover precious items hidden in the walls by the previous occupants. However, the mishneh N'go'im 12:1 says that the laws of "tzoraas" do not apply to homes that are built circularly. The spies in effect were thus bringing a report that would be a deterrent to their entering Eretz Yisroel. The structures are built circularly and there will be no need to destroy them and the hidden treasures will not be found.

Ch. 14, v. 18: "Hashem erech apayim" - Hashem Who is slow to anger - Compare this with Shmos 34:6, where the word Hashem is mentioned twice. The gemara R.H. 17b says that the first mention of Hashem refers to Hashem's mercy before one sins and the second to His mercy after one sins. The Rosh asks, "Why is there a need to invoke Hashem's mercy before one sins, as no sin has as of yet been committed?" He answers that "before one sins" refers specifically to when one has the thought of sinning with the act of idol worship, regarding which the gemara Kidushin 39b-40a says that Hashem considers the thought as if it were action, as stated in the prophet Yechezkeil, "l'maan t'fose es beis Yisroel b'libom" (14:4).

The difference is now well understood. Moshe was asking for compassion after the bnei Yisroel sinned with the golden calf, a sin in the realm of idolatry. Therefore when asking for forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf, mercy was needed even before the sin was perpetrated, for the thought of sinning itself. Here however, Moshe was asking for atonement for the sin of the spies and those who sided with them. The thought of sinning in this case is not a sin itself and therefore Moshe only invoked the word Hashem once for forgiveness only after the sin had actually taken place. (Meshech Chochmoh)

Ch. 14, v. 34: "Yom lashonoh" - A day for a year - There is a common response to the greeting of "gut morgen." It is "gut yohr." The source for this is most likely "yom lashonoh." If the punishment for a sin is "a year for a day," all the more so with a blessing, when one says "good morning," he deserves a response of "a good year." (Otzar Yad Hachaim)

Ch. 14, v. 37: "Va'yomusu ho'anoshim motzi'ei dibas ho'oretz" - And the people who spoke badly of the land died -The Tur O.Ch. #580, which deals with the laws of fasts, writes in the name of the Baal Halochos G'dolos that the spies died on the 17th day of the month of Elul. The Tzror Hamor writes that there is a text in the Tur that they died on the 7th of Elul. This is in consonance with the words of Targum Yonoson ben Uziel.

The Rosh in his responsa #13 writes that the verses indicate that they died on the 9th day of the month of Ov. He adds that perhaps the people "who spoke badly of the land" mentioned in our verse are not the spies, but others. The Beis Yoseif in his commentary on the Tur says that the proof of the Rosh that they died on the 9th of Ov is not conclusive, as they might have been afflicted on the 9th of Ov with the disorder that eventually brought about their death on the (1)7th of Elul. The Ba"ch in his commentary on the Tur finds the words of the Beis Yoseif far fetched, and suggests that the decree that they die was given on the 9th of Ov, while their actual death took place on the (1)7th of Elul.

Ch. 15, v. 31: "Hiko'reis tiko'reis ha'nefesh ha'hee avonoh voh" - That soul shall surely be excised, its sin is upon it - The Sifri "diburo d'chovoh" 1:1:2 says that although the Torah says "pokeid avone ovose al bonim" (Bmidbar 14:18), which teaches us that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, this does not apply to the sin of idol worship, as is indicated by the words of our verse, "avonoh voh," the sin is upon the soul, but not upon later generations.

The Meshech Chochmoh explains why this is so. Although when a person transgresses a sin that carries as its punishment excision, this is limited to this world, but the soul is not disconnected from the Jewish nation in the world to come. However, with the sin of idol worship the soul is cut off completely, leaving it with no connection to the Jewish nation even in the world to come, as is indicated by the double expression "hiko'reis ti'ko'reis" (gemara Sanhedrin 64b). As long as the sinner's soul is still connected with his nation, there is reason for his sin to impact upon later generations. Not so with the sin of idol worship. Since the person's soul is totally cut off from his nation, there is no reason for his sin to affect his progeny.

It is now well understood that immediately upon forgiving the bnei Yisroel for the sin of serving the golden calf, a sin in the realm of idol worship, the verse says "u'v'yom pokdi u'fokad'ti" (Shmos 32:34). Had this sin not been forgiven, the residual punishment of this sin could not be passed on to later generations, but as soon as it had been forgiven, Hashem advised that there would be future installment payments. These words are actually a silver lining in the clouds according to the Meshech Chochmoh.

Rabbi Yoseif Sho'ul Natanson in Divrei Sho'ul explains why the punishment of idol worship does not carry over to later generations based on the words of the Ra"n in his droshos #5. He explains that Avrohom commanded his servant Eliezer to seek a wife for his son Yitzchok specifically from his own family and not from the local Canaanite people. This is most puzzling, as the family of B'su'eil was entrenched in idol worship. The Ra"n answers that the Canaanites had terrible character traits. This was less desirable to our Patriarchs than idol worship because there are sins that make a negative impression on soul and body, and there are those that affect the soul only. Idol worship, albeit a terrible sin, affects the soul only and does not necessarily pass on to other family members. The sins that make a negative impression on the body are bad character traits, e.g. hatred, jealousy, cruelty, slander, etc., and they pass on to family members. This is why our Patriarchs preferred idol worshippers to people with bad character traits. Since sins that are based on bad character traits pass on to later generations, the punishment for these sins likewise passes on to them when they also transgress the same sin. However, idol worship, in spite of its being a cardinal sin, nevertheless, is not visited upon later generations, as the negativity of this sin does not pass on to one's children.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel