Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tosefet Bracha Shelach Lecha part 2

"Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun - Yehoshua” (13; 16)
Rashi explains here, based on the midrash, that Moshe's intention in changing his name was to add a 'yud' to the 'heh' so that it would spell G-d's name, and as if to say 'G-d should save you from the advice of the spies' (because Moshe saw in a vision that it was posssible that the spies would sin, and he prayed that it shouldn't happen). We have to explain why Moshe prayed for Yehoshua more than for all the other spies, that he should be saved from speaking lashon hara and saying bad things about the land of Israel.
Perhaps we can explain based on the Midrash Rabba in parshat Vayeshev (end of section 86) regarding the nature of people. 'Throw a stick to the ground and it will return to where it came from'. This is an analogy to people who inherit their behaviour patterns from their parents. Like we find in the Midrash Rabba, Parshat Miketz, that when the goblet was found in the sack of Binyamin, and the brothers thought that he had stolen it, they all called him 'thief, the son of a thief'. They thought he was following in the footsteps of his mother who had stolen the idols from her father (Vayetze 31; 32). We also find this as a common saying amongst people, 'the lamb follows the ewe, the actions of the daughter are like the actions of the mother' (Ketubot 63a). Also in Yechezkel (16; 44) we find “the daughter is like the mother”.
We know that Yehoshua was from the tribe of Ephraim ben Yosef. Yosef had the attribute of speaking badly about others, like we find at the beginning of parshat Vayeshev (37; 2) “Yosef brought evil reports (about his brothers) to his father”. Therefore Moshe was concerned that this attribute might be part of Yehoshua's genetic makeup. Since he was so close to him as his student, Moshe prayed for him in particular, like for something which is likely to cause damage [which explains why he didn't also pray for Gadi ben Sussi from the tribe of Menashe, who was also descended from Yosef.]
We gave a similar explanation to something which we find many times in the Talmud. When Rav Yosef was amazed about something he would say 'Master of Avraham' (for example look in Shabbat 22a, and the other places listed there). We don't find anyone else who used this expression, nor is it explained why Rav Yosef chose this phrase to express his surprise or amazement, or why it was unique to him.
Perhaps we can explain based on what the Ran brings in Kiddushin (chapter one on the Talmud 31a) in the name of an aggada. That Rav Yosef was careful not to look outside of his immediate four amot. For this purpose he damaged his eyes [which eventually led to him becoming blind]. This trait of never looking outside the four amot was also a trait of Avraham. Like Rashi explains in parshat Lech Lecha on the verse “Now I know that you are beautiful” [that until that moment Avraham had not noticed how beautiful Sarah, his wife, was]. Also in the Midrash Rabba on Vayera (parshat 53) they said that he fulfilled the verse “close his eyes from seeing evil” (Yishiya 33; 15). Because of this trait of not looking at things away from himself, he didn't notice the actions of Yishmael. Therefore Rav Yosef had the same trait as Avraham, and therefore used this expression of surprise 'Master of Avraham'.
We also explained similarly the Talmud in Chagiga 14b, which tells of Rabbi Elazar ben Erech who expounded upon kabbalistic secrets of the nature of G-d. After he finished, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai stood up and kissed him on his head, and said, 'Blessed is G-d who gave such a son to Avraham our father'. He meant this same idea, because we know from midrashim that Avraham explored these kinds of ideas, and as explained by Rambam at the beginning of his laws of idolatry. Therefore he connected Elazar ben Erech to Avraham because he followed in his footsteps.

No comments: