Monday, June 19, 2017

Questions on Parshas Shelach

The beginning of Parshas Shelach has an interesting statement by Moshe where he changes Yehoshuas name from הושע to יהושע. Rashi comments that Moshe added a י as a prayer that Hashem should save Yehoshua from the sin of teh Meraglim. Rashi comments that Moshe changed his name and davened that Hashem should save Yehoshua from the עצת המרגלים.

This is very difficult for a number of reasons:
1. We see clearly from Rashi that Moshe knew that the Meraglim would sin, that is why he davened that Yehoshua would not be caught up in it. If so, why did he send them at all? After all Rashi comments שלח לך that Hashem gave Moshe the choice as to whether to send meraglim or not. If he knew they would sin why didn't he just cancel the mission?
2. Why daven only for Yehoshua? Yehoshua was probably the greatest of the meraglim, why would Moshe worry that he would sin? At the time that they were picked all of the Meraglim were tzadikim, why didn't Moshe daven for all of them?
3. How can Moshe daven that Yehoshua should not sin? Even if you come up with a theory of how prayer works for someone else, it still doesn't explain how Moshe can pray for Yehoshua not to sin, after all הכל בידי שמים חוץ מיראת שמים, so whether a person sins or not should be solely in his hands and not be able to be affected by anyone else.


  1. Theophoric names using "yah" were a relatively late thing, and an explanation for how the hero Hoshea became Yeshohua was needed. This is Yehoshua's first starring role, so it makes sense to put the name change here.

    The question is why did the medrash not notice the plot holes they created with their in-story reason for the name change? And did the doctrine of free will exist as we now have it when the medrash was written?

  2. Yeah, the silly prophecy explanation creates SO many problems. Didn't Moshe know in advance what would happen if he hit the rock instead of speaking to it? Didn't he know that he could prevent the golden calf if he only gave clearer instructions to Aaron when he'd be coming back down from Sinai? Etc etc etc.