Guest Posting From Chabakuk Elisha - A Soft Spot For The Meraglim
In Parshas Behalosecha, the Chumash gives us an interesting chain of events:
- Klal Yisroel complains about the Manna.
- Moshe tells Hashem that it's too much for one man to handle.
- Eldad & Meidad prophesize.
- Yehoshua is upset about Eldad & Meidad's prophesy.
- Moshe silences Yehoshua's indignation.
- Miram tells Aharon lashon hora about Moshe and refers to his relationship with the dark skinned woman.
- Hashem sends tzoraas for speaking ill of Moshe.
And, of course, parshas Shelach is closely linked to Parshas Behalosecha. In Parshas Shelach, Kalev speaks in defense of Israel, and Yehoshua takes a secondary role, although (at first glance) it would seem that Yehosha should have been the more outspoken of the two. At that time, Klal Yisroel stands ready to enter Eretz Yisroel, and their avoda's focus will change from pure spirituality to one incorporating physicality by working the land (the ultimate fulfillment of G-d's will). This transition will indeed be difficult for everyone, and on more than one level.
What was Eldad and Meidad's prophesy? We are told that they prophesized that Moshe will not be joining them while they make this transition; Moshe will not enter Eretz Yisroel. Obviously, this creates uproar since losing Moshe is unfathomable. Yehoshua is greatly disturbed by the news, but Moshe lets him know that he must live with reality and prepare for leadership when it comes time.
Miriam and Aharon also don't understand why Moshe cannot come with the people, and they speculate that perhaps it is because the Holy Land cannot tolerate Moshe having married a non-Jewish Ethiopian princess while he spent time there as their king. Hashem tells Miriam that Moshe is the greatest of all men and that he experiences prophesy like no other – his sanctity is beyond all men. Hashem tells Miriam that it is she has it backwards…it is the Land of Israel that is ashamed before Moshe.
And Yehoshua? Why doesn't he stand up before the meraglim and their evil report? Why does he leave this responsibility to Kalev?
Because, if I may be so bold as to suspect, Yehoshua has a soft spot for the deeper intention of the meraglim. If they are about to enter Eretz Yisroel, then Moshe will die – as Eldad and Meidad prophesied – and Yehoshua will become the leader. On one level, he does not stand up before the meraglim because it will appear that his ambition is solely to attain power for himself. Thus he keeps a low profile; he's not asking for this promotion. Moreover, as the ultimate chossid of his Rebbe, he understands that if they don't enter Eretz Yisroel at this time they won't lose Moshe.
How does G-d "punish" Klal Yisroel for the sin of the Meraglim? Perhaps we can say that Hashem gives in. He realizes that the Yidden aren't yet ready - therefore, he gives them what they want: They get to stay with Moshe for an extra 40 years…