Back to this week's parsha| Previous Issues
by Daneal Weiner
Sorry, this week is a short one. (But depending on how many "thank you"s I
get, maybe it will set a precedence!)|
Rashi, based on the Midrash, asks, why does this week's
opening with the sending of 12 respected leaders into Israel, follow last weeks parsha ending with Miriam speaking lashon horah? He answers, that the princes were to learn a lesson from Miriam and not speak lashon horah about the land of Israel.
Of these 12 princes, one was Moshe's greatest student, Hoshea. Anticipating the possibility of trouble, Moshe added the letter 'yud' to Hoshea's name giving the now, Yehoshua, an "injection" of holiness to help protect him from that trouble. The 'yud' is a letter in Hashem's name and, requiring the least amount of material (ink), it thereby represents the most spiritual of the letters.
Out of the other 11 men, only one other stayed on the straight and narrow. This was Calev. What was it about Calev that he held his ground while the other 10 men blew it big time? Why didn't all 11 learn, or not learn, the lesson from Miriam equally?
In the Midrash, Pirkai d'Reb Eliezer (chap 45), he speaks of an incident were the mixed multitude came before "Moshe and Aharon and [also before] Chur, their sister's son." So we know that Moshe and Aharon's sister, Miriam, had a son named Chur. Now take a look in Divrai HaYomim I (Chronicles I), 2:19 where it's listing genealogies and it says that Azoova died so Calev married Efrat and she bore him Chur! This means that Efrat must be an alias of Miriam. Commentaries say that 'Efrat' is a name of nobility and what woman would it describe other than Miriam. Miriam is Calev's second wife!!!
Now it should be easy to understand why only Calev learned the lesson not to speak lashon horah. When Miriam was stricken with tsara'as she was sent from the camp for 7 days. That's one whole week Calev was minding the kids alone in the tent. Sand is everywhere, the place is a mess, dishes are piling up, they're screaming for mommy, the manna has been tasting like peanut butter and jelly, and every time Calev passes the neighbors he hears, "Oy, nebich." One can imagine his first words upon Miriam's return, "If anybody in this tent EVER speaks lashon horah again...!!!" Next!
In verses 13:4-16, the Torah tells us who the 12 chosen men are. In verse 8 it says "To the tribe of Ephrayim is Hoshea son of Nune." Verse 11 says, "To the tribe of Joseph, the tribe of Menashe is Gadi son of Susi." Ephrayim was also a son of Yoseph? Granted, Menashe was Yoseph's first born but Ephrayim was of greater stature. Ephrayim received the greater blessing from Grandpa Yaakov. Why isn't the yichus- relationship to Yoseph mentioned by Ephrayim?
The Rabbeinu B'Chayai answers that this is not a positive connection. From the tribe of Ephrayim was Hoshea who became Yehoshua who did NOT speak lashon horah. Just as Yoseph DID speak loshon horah against his brothers (Breishis 37:2) so did this descendant, Gadi son of Susi. This does give us some insight into the popular question: If Hashem judges each person individually, how can the Torah say that the iniquity of the father is visited upon the 3rd or 4th generation? We see it's only if the great grandson walks in the forefather's footsteps.
The Ma'or V'Shemesh has a slightly different interpretation of what's going on. He asks why the parsha opens with H' saying to Moshe "Send for you men..."? Does Hashem not want them to go? Why does it say "Send for you ANASHIM- MEN"? The word 'anashim,' Rashi explains, is used when the Torah wants to tell us that we are dealing with RIGHTEOUS men. If we jump ahead to verse 25-26 it says, "They returned from spying out the land for 40 days. They went and they came to Moshe and Aharon..." There is definitely a redundant "They went" stuck in there. Rashi explains the Torah is teaching us that just as the men came back with evil intent so too "they went" with evil intent. Didn't Rashi just explain the Torah calling them ANASHIM means differently? There's more!
The Ma'or V'Shemesh continues; why was Yoseph's name only attached to one son? And finally, the 64,000 shekel question, why is this whole episode called, which I've avoided till now, the episode of the SPIES??? The Torah calls them 'tayarim'- tourists. They were sent touring to check out which areas of Israel were best suited for their tribes. Who's spying?
Before reading ahead you must hold on to an something fastened to the ground. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains briefly (in Michtav m'Eliyahu, daled, pg 119) what is an 'Ibur Neshama'. It means a 'pregnant soul' or a 'leap soul' (as in 'leap year'. Both ideas imply carrying a little something extra). Rav Dessler explains the Ibur Neshama as a "portion" of a deceased Tsaddik's soul (Tsaddik- righteous man) that is given or "attached" to a living individual- a host. The purpose is as assistance to the host in his battle with his evil inclination with an extra conscience, of sorts. Obviously a kabbalistic idea. We'll pretend we know what it's about. At face value, it is a similar idea to Moshe having added the 'yud' to Hoshea's name.
Rav Dessler continues to explain that as long as the host makes the right choices, the Ibur Neshama will stay with him. If the wrong choices are made then the leap soul says...leaps. One point the Ma'or V'Shemesh adds is that it is only in the hands and ability of the Gadol HaDor, the Torah giant of the generation, to pray for and attach the Ibur Neshama to a host.
With this background, hopefully still secured to the ground, we can now marvel at the Ma'or V'Shemesh's answers to the above questions. Back in Breishis, Ten sons of Yaakov, having left Binyamin behind, travel down to Egypt to purchase food. When they appear before the Viceroy they don't recognize that he is brother Yoseph. It says (v.42:9), "Yoseph recalled the dreams about them so he said to them, 'You are SPIES! To see the lands nakedness have you come!'" The Ba'al HaTurim comments on this verse that Yoseph is saying "You are spies...and NOT ME because Yehoshua is MY descendant and he did NOT speak evil [about the land of Israel]!"
The dialogue continues, (Breishis 42:10), "They [the brothers] answer him, 'Not so, my lord,...your servants have never been spies.'" The Ba'al HaTurim points out that "They answer" is in plural form but "my lord" is singular!? He explains that Yehudah is speaking on behalf of the brothers. HE is saying (with some embellishment (just a little)) "You have TWO sons, Yoseph. Only the descendant of ONE did not speak evil. You want to forget about the other? Fine. We therefore address ourselves by MY ONE descendant who also did NOT speak evil!" (Jumping to verse 7 of this weeks parsha, "To the tribe of Yehudah, Calev son of Yephuneh," one of the good guys. Now flipping back to Genesis, to the end of Yehudah's statement, 42:11) "...your servants have never been spies!" The Hebrew for "have never been"- 'lo hayu' has the numeric equivalent 52, same as "CALEV"!!! That's their story and their sticken' to it!
Back in this week's parsha, what's really going on? Hashem says to Moshe (with more of that highly entertaining and insightful embellishment) "Moshe, if you send those 12 there is going to be trouble."
"The people insist," Moshe says.
"Well then Moshe," Hashem says, "you are the Gadol Hador. Send for yourself ANASHIM (the Ibur Neshama of the righteous Brothers) to accompany their descendants. They will need all the help they could get."
"Wait," Moshe thinks, "Yoseph has two descendants. Well, Hoshea has been my prize student so he should be strong. I'll give the ibur neshama of Yoseph to Gadi son of Susi. But, just in case I'll change Hoshea's name to Yehoshua." So the 'anashim' were sent, but as for the living hosts, Rashi explains, the way they came in was the way they went out. The 'anashim' must not have stayed with them for too long! BRILLIANT! GEVALDIK! GESHMAK!
One loose end: We just said the Brothers did not know it was Yoseph and then Yehudah is addressing him as such? I think it's safe to say the Ba'al HaTurim is describing a prophetic dialogue even without the speakers realizing what they are saying. This happens often in the Torah. Like- oh, out of time!
But just in time for a gevaldik and geshmak Shabbot Shalom!