אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר שָׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לָתוּר אֶת הָאָרֶץ וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה לְהוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן נוּן יְהוֹשֻׁעַ – These are the names of the men Moses sent to scout the Land, and Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua. (13:16)
The incident of the Meraglim occured on their return from Canaan on the 9th of Av, and was the precursor for all Jewish tragedies on that day, as the Gemara in Taanis (29a) explains that when the Jews began to cry at the “reports”, Hashem pledged “Since you cried for no reason, I will designate this day as a day of crying for all generations”. All tragedies that occured on 9th Av are resultant from this episode.
Moshe sensed that they would return bearing a bad report, and changed his disciple Hoshea’s name to Yehoshua, and prated for him.
The Zohar reveals to us that what caused the Meraglim (who were the nesi’im, princes of their respective Tribes) to sin, was their fear of losing their positions of influence and leadership on entry into Israel. The perceived threat to their authority distorted their vision of Israel, and everything they saw was misinterpreted and fell under the shadow of their negativity.
This Zohar leads us to a difficult question. We read in Parshas Behaloscha that when Eldad and Medad started prophesying, Yehoshua exclaimed that they should be imprisoned – he was distraught at the mere suggestion that he was worthy enough of being the leader.
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