by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – June 12, 2012
In the beginning of the Torah section of Shlach, Moses changes the name of his faithful student, destined to bring the People of Israel into the Land of Israel, Hoshea Bin Nun to Yehoshua (Bamidbar 13:16). Our Sages explain that Moses did this with the wish that “May G-d save you from the counsel of the other spies” (Midrash Tanchuma 6; Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 34b). Moses, ostensibly, had a premonition that Yehoshua would have to stand up to the other spies who went to investigate the land and, therefore, offered him this blessing.
As regards this point, R. Yissocher Frand cited, in one of his talks on this Torah portion, a short and intriguing thought expressed by the famous latter day Torah giant R. Yaakov Kamenetsky (1891 – 1986).
The question is asked why Moses was only concerned about Yehoshua. Why did Moses not also feel it incumbent to bless Kalev, his brother-in-law, with extra fortitude to stand up to the bad counsel of the other spies?
To answer this question, R. Yaakov Kamenetsky suggests something quite intriguing. Kalev was married to Moses’ sister Miriam, who was a righteous woman. Knowing that Kalev had a righteous wife, Moses was confident that Kalev would be safe from bad influences. Yehoshua, on the other hand, as far as we know, was not married at that time. He only at a later date married Rachav. Currently, though, to the best of our knowledge, Yehoshua was still single. Since Yehoshua did not have a wife to back him up, it was he, rather than Kalev, who needed the blessing of “May G-d save you from the counsel of the other spies”.
The power of a woman – the right woman – at one’s side can be phenomenal. This is something not to be discounted. According to R. Yaakov, Moses thought so. The rest of us should too.