Volume 2 Issue 49
by Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky
This week, Moshe composes the song of Ha'azinu. It is a hauntingly prophetic
piece replete with predictions and admonitions. It extols the virtues of
Israel and forewarns them of a perilous future, if they disobey the Torah.
He finishes the song, standing side by side with his disciple Yehoshua, as
he prepares to transfer the mantle of leadership. Deuteronomy 32:34: "Moshe
came and spoke all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he and
Hoshea the son of Nun."
Moshe equates his own stature with that of his student in order to show the
world his high regard for the future leader to whom he had entrusted his
people. Yet there is something strange. Yehoshua is not referred to by the
regal name that Moshe had long since given him; rather he is called Hoshea.
Before the hazardous mission of the spies forty years prior, Moshe added the
Hebrew letter yud to Hoshea's name. The yud represented the name of Hashem
and served to protect Hoshea from the malicious intent of the slanderous
spies. From that day on, Hoshea is always referred to as Yehoshua.
Why then at the height of Yehoshua's career, on the day he is to take over
the reign of power, does the Torah refer to him as Hoshea? Is the Torah
surreptitiously diminishing his stature? Isn't that exactly what the Torah
would like to avoid?
On April 12, 1945, Vice-President Harry S. Truman was summoned to the White
House. He was shown to the sitting room of the First Lady, Eleanor
Roosevelt. Gently, she told him that President Roosevelt was dead.
After a few moments of stunned silence, Mr. Truman composed himself and
asked, "Is there anything I can do for you, Mrs. Roosevelt?"
The First Lady shook her head. "Is there anything we can do for you? For you
are the one who is in trouble now."
Perhaps Yehoshua's crowning moment was also meant to be quite sobering. He
was made to realize that the force behind his greatness would no longer be
with him. The man who had crowned him with the glory of G-d's name was
joining the Creator, leaving Yehoshua alone and diminished. He was now just,
It was now up to Yehoshua to remember from whence his greatness came.
Often we bask in the spotlight of greatness and expect to glow when the
radiance is turned off.
Unfortunately, we are not made of phosphorous. The time comes when our light
must shine from within our own selves. Sure enough from that moment on,
Hoshea shines as Yehoshua. Given the task we will shine too.