Shabbat Parashat Ki Tisa| 5763
Young at Heart
After first portraying Yehoshua bin Nun as a warrior, the Torah describes him in a different role in our parasha. “His [Moshe’s] îùøú (servant), Yehoshua bin Nun, ðòø (a lad?), would not depart from within the tent” (Shemot 33:11). Why did Yehoshua receive the apparently degrading term of ðòø, considering he was 56 years old (Ibn Ezra, ad loc.)?
Ibn Ezra explains that Yehoshua served like a ðòø, but he doesn’t tell us what that entails. The Ramban (ad loc.) brings examples from Tanach where ðòø means îùøú (servant), not lad. This, however, raises the issue of redundancy in our pasuk.
Apparently, when the Torah stresses that a given servant is a ðòø, it implies that he is a particularly devoted servant. Certainly, in the case of a highly accomplished 56 year-old, to submit to playing the role of a youngster was an act of self-sacrifice. Perhaps another meaning of the root can shed additional light on the matter. “ðòø” in the verb form means to shake off. A dedicated servant can remove personal wills and desires from his mind and concentrate totally on the needs of his master. Indeed, that is what the pasuk is telling us about Yehoshua, who waited patiently at the foot of Har Sinai and at the Ohel Moed to serve Moshe Rabbeinu to the maximum. Rav Goldvicht z.t.l. (late Rosh Yeshiva of Kerem B’Yavneh) was fond of explaining the connection between Yehoshua’s ability to eclipse himself in the presence of Moshe and his suitability to take over the mantle of leadership.
Combining the various meanings of ðòø, we can suggest the following. One of the positive powers of youth (sometimes adults focus too much on the negative) is the ability to get excited about a particular project. When this happens, a youngster may (for better or for worse) throw off other concerns and give it “everything he has” to succeed. Adults have the maturity to put things in perspective and are less likely to focus on one thing to the exclusion of others. While that maturity is usually helpful, there are some goals which deserve the “tunnel-vision” often reserved for the young. We should learn from Yehoshua and know when relegating ourselves to the role of ðòø is fitting, beneficial, and crucial.
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