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ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע

Moshe called Hoshea Bin Nun Yehoshua. (13:16)

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Moshe Rabbeinu added the letter yud to Yehoshua’s name, so that his name would begin with the letters of Hashem’s Name (Yud, Kay). The Hebrew name Yehoshua means Hashem saves or Hashem will save, which conveys that Moshe prayed for Yehoshua. Kah yoshiacha mei’atzas meraglim; “May Hashem save you from the conspiracy/counsel of the spies.” Why did Moshe pray for Yehoshua and not for Calev? Moshe had greater reason to be concerned for Yehoshua, for he feared that Yehoshua’s yetzer hora l’shem Shomayim, evil inclination would convince him to act egregiously because, ultimately, it would be for the sake of Heaven. Yehoshua was well aware that once the Jews entered Eretz Yisrael, it would mean the mortal end of Moshe. Since his Rebbe could not enter the Land, Yehoshua had a vested interest in delaying the nation’s entrance. It makes sense, but how could he go against a direct command? How could he sanction speaking lashon hora against the Land, just so that Moshe could live another forty years? Lashon hora is lashon hora in any way that one packages it. One might, however, conjecture that l’shem Shomayim mitigates lashon hora. Yehoshua’s love for his Rebbe could possibly cloud his perspective. He might convince himself that in order to keep Moshe alive, one must take heroic measures – even to the point of slandering Eretz Yisrael.

The yetzer hora does not beguile us to perform an aveirah, sin. He convinces us that what we are about to do is actually a mitzvah. Quite possibly, on the surface, it is a mitzvah, but a mitzvah executed through means that are not appropriate is flawed. This is how the yetzer hora taints our mitzvos. Horav Reuven Karlinstein, zl, quotes from one of the Ruzhiner Rebbe’s descendants, offering an inspirational insight into a phrase we recite daily (probably without thinking), V’chof es yitzreinu l’hishtabeid Lach; “And compel our evil inclination to be subservient to You.”  What is the meaning of “compelling our yetzer hora”? Anyone who falls into the clutches of the yetzer hora is a fool (if he knows it and remains in his clutches). The Rebbe explains that we pray to Hashem concerning the yetzer hora of l’shem Shomayim, which is no less evil, that He protect us from his wiles. Prior to any undertaking, we must ask ourselves: “Why am I doing this? What is my motivation?” Only after one is clear that his motives are above board, can he follow through on his intentions.

Alternatively, we might suggest another reason that Moshe prayed for Yehoshua and not Calev – especially since Calev was his brother-in-law, Miriam’s husband. Essentially, Moshe had a predicament. Yehoshua was his premier student, Calev was his brother-in-law.  To pray for Calev would suggest that he was guilty of nepotism. To pray for Yehoshua would give rise to rumors that he was playing favorites, since his relationship with Yehoshua was deeper than blood. Yehoshua was much more than a student; he was the embodiment of Moshe. The question in Moshe’s mind was: Who needed him more? Calev was married to Miriam HaNeviyah who, together with her two brothers, comprised Klal Yisrael’s leadership triumvirate.  Certainly, she would inspire and infuse her husband with the vital spiritual stamina to overcome the noxious nature of the meraglim’s intentions. Yehoshua, on the other hand, had no one but Moshe. How could he abandon his student? Thus, he prayed for him.

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