Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz
Volume XV, No. 33
25 Sivan 5761
June 16, 2001
Orach Chaim 455:4-6
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Kiddushin 40
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Niddah 7
This week's parashah recounts the mission of the spies and the
negative report that they brought to Bnei Yisrael. In analyzing
their journey and the fact that Moshe sent them to the Negev
first, Rashi comments: "It is the way of tagarim / peddlers to
show the less desirable merchandise first and only then to show
the good merchandise."
R' Yisrael Taub z"l (1849-1920; the "Modzhitzer Rebbe") derives
a lesson from Rashi's comment: Why did Rashi use the example of
tagarim / peddlers rather than, more generally, socharim /
merchants? The answer is that tagar has a negative connotation -
one who complains is called "korai tagar" / "he calls tagar" -
while socher has a positive connotation. Even the Torah is
called "sechorah" / "merchandise" (Mishlei 3:14).
We are taught (Avot ch. 3): "Torah study is good together with
work." However, we must know which is the essential pursuit and
which is the secondary pursuit. A socher, an honorable merchant,
puts the sechorah / the Torah first, and only later engages in
work. When he awakes in the morning, he prays with devotion and
studies some words of Torah before going off to work. In
contrast, a tagar makes the secondary thing - work - his
priority. "It is the way of tagarim / peddlers to show the less
desirable merchandise first and only then to show the good
merchandise." (Quoted in Otzrot Tzaddikei U'geonei Ha'dorot)
"For the tribe of Yosef, for the tribe of Menashe, Gaddi son
of Sussi." (13:11)
When the Torah mentions the tribes of Menashe and Ephraim, the
children of Yosef, it sometimes mentions Yosef in connection with
one (for example above) and sometimes in connection with the
other (e.g., Bemidbar 1:32). R' Shimon Schwab z"l (1908-1995)
When Yaakov blessed Yosef, he said (Bereishit 48:5-6), "Your
two sons who were born to you in Egypt before my coming to you in
Egypt shall be mine; Ephraim and Menashe, like Reuven and Shimon
they will be to me. But progeny born to you after them shall be
yours; they will be included under the names of their brothers .
. ." It is these other children to whom the Torah refers when it
mentions the "the tribe of Yosef" or "the sons of Yosef." For
whatever reasons, they are sometimes counted among the sons of
Menashe and sometimes among the sons of Ephraim.
(Ma'ayan Bet Ha'sho'eivah)
"Moshe called Hoshea the son of Nun 'Yehoshua'." (13:16)
The ancient Aramaic translation, Targum Yonatan, states: "When
Moshe saw the humility of Yehoshua, he called Hoshea the son of
Nun 'Yehoshua'." What does Yehoshua's humility have to do with
his name change?
R' Aryeh Leib Zunz-Charif z"l (Poland; 1765-1833) answers as
follows: We read in last week's parashah that Eldad and Medad
began prophesying and Yehoshua demanded that they be punished.
What did they prophesy? The Sages say that they prophesied,
"Moshe will die, and Yehoshua will take Bnei Yisrael into the
Rashi (on our verse) writes that Yehoshua's new name contains
Moshe's prayer, "May G-d ('Y-h') save you ('hoshea') from the
spies' conspiracy." However, writes R' Zunz, in light of Eldad's
and Medad's prophecy, it is unclear why Moshe was concerned about
Yehoshua's safety. We are taught that when Hashem gives a
prophet good tidings about a person, He will never change His
mind and the good tidings will certainly come true. If so,
Eldad's and Medad's prophecy meant that Yehoshua would certainly
be saved from the spies' conspiracy.
The answer is that Yehoshua, in his humility did not consider
Eldad's and Medad's prophecy to contain good tidings. Yehoshua
was not interested in a leadership position. If so, Hashem could
"change" His mind about Yehoshua's future, and Yehoshua's
salvation from his fellow spies was not assured. Thus, "When
Moshe saw the humility of Yehoshua, he called Hoshea the son of
Nun 'Yehoshua'," as if to say, "May G-d save you from the spies'
R' Eliezer Ashkenazi z"l (1513-1585; rabbi in Egypt, Italy and
Poland) offers the following explanation for Yehoshua's name
change: Yehoshua apparently was younger than the other spies. We
read about the spies (13:3), "They were all distinguished men."
Regarding Yehoshua, however, we read (Sh'mot 33:11), "Yehoshua
bin Nun, a lad . . ." [He was 44.]
Being a relatively young man, Yehoshua was known by a
diminutive form of his name - "Hoshea." Also, he was known more
as a son of his father than as "his own man" - he was "the son of
Nun." In order to stand this young man on his own two feet and
make him an equal of the other spies, "Moshe called Hoshea the
son of Nun 'Yehoshua'."
Similarly, R' Ashkenazi suggests, our Matriarch Sarah's name
was always Sarah; the name by which she is known in part of the
Torah - Sarai - is only a diminutive form. [Thus it says
(Bereishit 17:15), "Do not call her name Sarai, for Sarah is her
name," in contrast to (Bereishit 17:5), "Your name shall be
"The people who spread the evil report about the Land died
in a plague before Hashem." (14:37)
Rashi writes: "They died a death that befit them. Because they
sinned with their tongues (i.e., speech), their tongues
lengthened until they reached their navels and worms crawled from
their tongues to their navels."
R' Shimon Moshe Diskin z"l (Russia; 1875-1931) elaborates on
the appropriateness of this punishment: The various mutinies
against Moshe in the desert fall into two categories. In some
cases, Moshe's opponents were not jealous of his position, but
were simply distressed by the inconveniences of life in the
desert compared to the pleasant memories they had of Egypt.
These people were not interested in making any sacrifices for the
sake of attaining some greater good. (Such a mutiny was seen in
last week's parashah.)
In other cases, Moshe's opponents understood the purpose of
being in the desert. However, their own jealousy of Moshe's
position ate away at them. (Such a mutiny will be seen in next
The members of the first group mentioned above sinned with
their stomachs. They remembered the delicious foods that they
had had in Egypt and they complained about the food they received
in the desert. In contrast, the members of the second group
sinned with their tongues.
The spies who spread the evil report about Eretz Yisrael
belonged to both groups. They were jealous of Moshe, but they
also incited the people to return to Egypt. Therefore they were
punished in this bizarre, but appropriate, manner, whereby their
tongues touched their stomachs and worms crawled back and forth
Selected Laws of Shemittah
(From Rambam's Mishneh Torah, Hil. Shemittah Ve'yovel, ch. 6)
[Ed. note: This year is a shemittah year, and, from time-to-
time, we are presenting excerpts from the laws of shemittah.
As with any halachic issue addressed in Hamaayan, our goal is
to increase awareness of the subject, not to provide
practical halachic guidance. For such advice, consult a
The Vogel and Braver families
on the yahrzeit of
R' Joseph Braver a"h (R' Yosef Leib ben Harav Yehuda)
- One may not conduct business using the produce of shevi'it
/ the seventh year. If one wishes to sell a small quantity of
the produce of shevi'it, he may, and the money he receives takes
on the sanctity of shevi'it, i.e., it should be used to buy food
which will be eaten in the sanctified manner in which the fruits
of shevi'it must be eaten. The fruit which was sold also retains
its original sanctity.
- One should not buy vegetables in order to sell them . . .
However, if he purchased vegetables to eat and he had leftover,
he may sell the leftovers and the money he receives takes on the
sanctity of shevi'it. Similarly, if he gathered vegetables for
his own use and his son or grandson took some and sold them -
this is permitted and the money takes on the sanctity of
- When one sells the produce of shevi'it [i.e., in those
circumstances where it is permitted to sell it], one may not sell
it using a measure, weight or number, so that it will not be as
if he is doing business with the produce of shevi'it. Rather,
one sells a little bit and estimates [its value], which is low,
in order to let the buyer know that the seller acquired it from
hefker / that which is ownerless. [In other words, when one
acquires something for nothing, he sells it cheaply. (Radvaz)]
- One may make bunches of things which ordinarily are brought
home in bunches, in order to sell them in estimated quantities in
the market. However, one may not make bunches as one ordinarily
makes them for the market [i.e., in precise quantities].
The Sabrin family
in memory of father Shlomo ben Chaim a"h (Sol Sabrin)
Copyright © 2000 by Shlomo Katz
and Project Genesis, Inc.
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