THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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SOTAH 31-35 - These Dafim have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham-Fauer
in honor of the first Yahrzeit (18 Teves 5761) of her father, Reb Mordechai
ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner). May the merit of supporting and advancing the
study of the Talmud be l'Iluy Nishmaso.
1) THE COVENANT OF THE RIVERBED
QUESTION: The Gemara tells us that the Jewish people placed twelve stones in
the Jordan River while they were walking through the dry riverbed. On these
twelve stones they wrote the words of the Torah. While they were crossing
the river, Yehoshua also made them accept upon themselves the Mitzvah of
conquering Eretz Yisrael from the seven nations, telling them that if they
do not accept it, the waters will come back down and drown them. Why did
they do these acts while crossing the riverbed?
(a) The reason it was necessary to put stones in the Jordan River, according
to the MABIT (in Beis Elokim), even though the stones would eventually
become covered with water, is similar to the purpose of the Mezuzah that is
placed on the doorway to one's home. The point was to remind them of the
Bris with Hashem every time they would enter into Eretz Yisrael.
(b) The IYUN YAKOV explains that they accepted the Mitzvos that came along
with Eretz Yisrael while walking through the Jordan, because when giving
someone a present on condition, the condition must be stated before the
present is given (RAMBAM, Hilchos Ishus 6:4). After they had entered Eretz
Yisrael it would have been too late to obligate them to accept the Mitzvah
as a condition for receiving Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, Hashem made them
accept the Mitzvah immediately before entering Eretz Yisrael, so that the
gift of Eretz Yisrael would be given with that condition.
The Iyun Yakov seems to be following the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah ben
Beseirah (Bechoros 55a) who maintains that the Jordan is not considered part
of Eretz Yisrael. Rebbi Shimon there argues and holds that it was considered
part of Eretz Yisrael. According to Rebbi Shimon, the reason they needed to
accept the Mitzvah of conquering Eretz Yisrael while standing in the
riverbed of the Jordan might be similar to the way that Hashem had them
accept the Torah while standing underneath Har Sinai. It was in order to
show them that there is no life without the Torah. (See MAHARAL in
introduction to Tiferes Yisrael.)
The reason the Jewish people were given Eretz Yisrael is because it is the
place which is most conducive to learning Torah (see Kesuvos 110b, Bava
Basra 158b, and Bereishis Rabah 16:4). The gift of Eretz Yisrael is
analogous to the gift of the Torah (especially according to Rebbi Shimon bar
Yochai himself who rules (Berachos 35b) that one should not dedicate himself
to working the land in Eretz Yisrael but should dedicate himself exclusively
to the study of Torah).
2) KALEV'S PRAYER
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Kalev went to pray in Chevron at the
burial place of the Avos to ask for mercy that he be saved from joining the
evil scheme of the Meraglim. The Gemara says that Yehoshua did not need to
go pray at the burial place of the Avos, because Moshe Rabeinu had already
prayed for him to be saved from the evil scheme of the Meraglim. The Torah
says that since Kalev had a "Ru'ach Acheres," "a different spirit," than the
Meraglim, he was rewarded by being given the city of Chevron.
Why did Moshe Rabeinu pray only for Yehoshua and not for Kalev?
(a) The simple answer is that a Rebbi's prayers are much more potent when he
prays for a close Talmid. Yehoshua, who was a close Talmid of Moshe Rabeinu,
would be protected by the prayer of his Rebbi. In contrast, Kalev -- who did
not have that relationship with Moshe Rabeinu -- needed to pray for himself
since Moshe's prayer would not be as effective for him.
This is also why Kalev was granted a specific reward for his righteousness,
the city of Chevron, while Yehoshua did not receive a specific reward. Since
Kalev had to struggle with his Yetzer ha'Ra and pray from the depths of his
heart in order to reject the plan of the Meraglim, he was rewarded, while
Yehoshua never entertained any thoughts of joining the Meraglim, because
Moshe Rabeinu had prayed for him. See Kalev's struggle was greater, he was
rewarded. (See ALSHICH Bamidbar 14:22, OR HA'CHAIM Bamidbar 14:24.)
(b) The CHAFETZ CHAIM (Parshas Shelach) suggests a different approach. He
says that there are two types of Tzadikim. One Tzadik protests loudly as
soon as he sees anyone doing something wrong. The other Tzadik does not say
anything, but instead he waits for the opportune time to speak up and
explain to the wrongdoer what he did wrong in order to influence him to do
Each of the two approaches has an advantage and a disadvantage. The
advantage of the first approach is that the Tzadik will not be influenced by
the evil ways of the others. However, the disadvantage is that his words
have less of a chance of influencing them, and they might even attempt to
physically harm him in order to stop him from rebuking them. The advantage
of the second approach is that he has a greater chance of being listened to,
but the disadvantage is that he might soften up and become desensitized to
the sins by constantly seeing the wrongdoers sinning without protesting,
until the sin eventually becomes light in his eyes as well.
Moshe Rabeinu knew that Yehoshua was the first type of Tzadik. He did not
need to pray that Yehoshua not be persuaded to join the Meraglim in their
evil ways, because he knew that Yehoshua would protest loudly and reject
them from the start. However, Moshe realized that he did need to pray to
Hashem to protect Yehoshua from the plots the Meraglim might make to harm
him so that Yehoshua not foil their plans.
Kalev, on the other hand, was the second type of Tzadik, and therefore Moshe
Rabeinu did not have to pray that he be protected from physical harm.
Instead, Kalev needed protection from falling into the trap of the Yetzer
ha'Ra and following the scheme of the Meraglim. A person can only pray for
someone else to be protected from physical harm, but not from being seduced
by the Yetzer ha'Ra. That is why Moshe Rabeinu's prayer would only be
effective to protect Kalev from physical harm, but not to protect him from
his Yetzer ha'Ra. Kalev would have to fight that battle himself by praying
from the depths of his heart in Chevron. This is the meaning of the verse
when it says that Kalev was of a "different spirit" -- he was "Echad b'Peh
v'Echad b'Lev," what he said was not what he was thinking (Rashi). He told
the Meraglim that he agreed with them, but later when he found the opportune
time he displayed his true intentions -- to foil the plot of the Meraglim.