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Shabbat Parashat Chukat 5776

Parashat Hashavua: Yehoshua the Advantage of the Student

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul, p. 420-421

Moshe did not merit to enter and capture Eretz Yisrael on behalf of the nation. His disciple, Yehoshua, about whom it is said, “the lad did not abandon the tent” (Shemot 33:11) did so instead. While Moshe’s sin caused this outcome, certainly it was set from beforehand that it would be Yehoshua who would bring the people in. (We will not get into the solution to the paradox of bechira and yediah (human choice and divine foreknowledge)).

Moshe’s failing is explained as follows: “Since you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me” (Bamidbar 20:12). The stated reason, a lack of belief which caused a lack of sanctification of Hashem’s Name is hard to understand in its simple meaning. After all, Moshe spoke to Hashem “face to face” on a level never before or after matched. What does it mean that he did not believe?

The Sabba MiNovordok (Madreigat Ha’adam, Birur Hamidot 6) explains that Moshe made a calculation stemming from his desire to sanctify Hashem’s Name. [He did not want to speak to the stone that Hashem selected out of fear that the people would say that it was a stone that had the natural powers to give water.] The mistake was that one never obtains sanctification of His Name by violating His word. The mistake stems from a person’s willingness to base his actions on his own reasoning. The spies made a similar mistake. They were afraid that the fulfillment of the mitzvot in the Land could not be done in the way it was in the desert.

Yehoshua, on the other hand, had a different position. He accepted matters with a “simple belief” without bringing into consideration the prospect of the divine word contradicting his intellectual calculations. This approach uses the strengths of being student-like. By this we mean being like a student who does not ask or investigate what he is told but accepts it with simple belief so that no possible idea can prevent him from carrying out the instructions without question. Yehoshua reached this level by being the “lad who did not abandon the tent.”

The gemara says that the word “emunat (the belief of)” (Yeshaya 33:6) refers to the Talmudic Order of Zeraim (dealing with agricultural halacha). Conquest of the Land is related to Zeraim. This is where one requires belief, specifically simple belief without questioning. Therefore, if someone has any lacking in the correct type of belief even in the most subtle of ways, it is still a lacking that disqualifies him from conquering the Land.

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