Divrei Torah

PARSHAS HA'AZINU 5779

In this week’s Parsha Moshe prophesies good times for the Jewish people and what will happen to them if, G-d forbid, they do not follow the Torah. The parsha concludes that Moshe - together with his successor Yehoshua -  told the words of the song to the people.

Rashi explains that Moshe was transferring his authority to Yehoshua. Moshe had Yehoshua lecture to the Jewish people in his presence in order to establish his authority and leadership in the eyes of the people. However, there is a strange reference at this point. What cannot be missed is the Torah’s reference to Yehoshua. He is not called Yehoshua in this instance. Rather, he is called by his original name – Hoshea, “Moshe spoke . . . and Hoshea. But, Moshe had changed Hoshea’s name to Yehoshua forty years previously – before the incident of the spies. Moshe gave him the name Yehoshua as a bracha – that G-d should save him from the negative attitude of the spies. So, why at such a critical moment – at the time when Moshe was handing the reigns of leadership to his main student and successor and he wants to build Yehoshua’s prestige– does the Torah revert back to Yehoshua’s original name?

Rashi explains that Yehoshua was in a position where he could have become haughty and looked down upon others. After all, he was the successor to the greatest person who ever lived. Therefore, he must also be great. He was going to be in a position of power, and as the English historian Lord Acton stated, “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So, the Torah is teaching us that despite his exalted position – he would be the leader of the greatest nation on earth - Yehoshua did not become conceited. In terms of humility, he was the same Yehoshua as when he was younger. Power did not go to his head. He knew that his position was a bracha from G-d and he was responsible to G-d and the Jewish people. That was his song and the tune by which he would live.