Thursday, June 07, 2007

Parshas Shelach 5767

To see last year's Dvar Torah, CLICK HERE.

אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁלַח משֶׁה לָתוּר אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּקְרָא משֶׁה לְהוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן-נוּן, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ.

"These are the names of the men that Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua." (Sefer Bamidbar, 13:16)

Rashi: "He prayed for him, 'may G-d save you from [joining] the counsel of the spies."

The Dubno Maggid questions why Moshe only prayed for Yehoshua; as the leader of the Jewish people, he should've worried about and prayed on behalf of all of the spies. What was it about Yehoshua that caused Moshe to worry about him, as opposed to the others?

To answer the queston, the Maggid distinguishes between two types of Aveiros/sins: 1) those that the person committing the sin knows that what he/she is doing is a sin, and 2) those that the person committing misconstrues and justifies as being a Mitzvah. One, obviously, needs to be more careful about the latter category, because when one has this mindset, we cannot expect that person's actions to change since they, themselves, view it as a Mitzvah.

This is what the Mishna in Avos refers to when it (ch. 3) says, "Reflect upon three things and you will not come to the hands of transgression. Know from where you came, where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give a judgement and accounting." What does it mean "to the hands of transgression"? The Maggid suggests that those sins of which the transgressor is aware of are sins that "man grasps", while those sins that are rationalized as being Mitzvos are sins that "grasp man." The wording is similar, but their meanings are quite different. When one commits a sin, yet rationalizes it to be a Mitzvah, the person is completely "grasped" by sin.

With this, we can understand why Moshe saw it fit only to pray for Yehoshua. The fact that these spies were leaders of the people and Tzaddikim is well known. Because of this, Moshe didn't think that the fact that they believed that upon entering Eretz Yisrael that they would be replaced as leaders (Zohar) would stop them from completely a righteous mission. However, Yehoshua, who was to succeed Moshe, could've thought that if he brought back an evil report, this would delay their entrance to the land, which would therefore keep Moshe alive (as due to Moshe's sin, he was not to enter to land). This potential rationalization for sin by Yehoshua had the potential to be worse than the sin of any of the other spies, as it is classified in the latter category of sin discussed above. It was because of this that Moshe felt the need to pray for Yehoshua alone.

None of us are perfect; we all make mistakes. We should be careful that we're owning up to the mistakes that we make. We're playing with fire when we start rationalizing our improper behavior.

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