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 (5743) Why wasn't Joshua annointed. Boundary of "kingship" by Moshe and Joshua


Synopsis 1:

The Torah portion of Pinchas1 recounts how Moshe asked G‑d to “appoint a man over the community” to be its next leader, so that the Jewish people will not become “like sheep that have no shepherd.” G‑d replied to Moshe: “Take Yehoshua… and lay your hands upon him.”

In explaining how a Jewish king is appointed, the Rambam states:2 “The first king of a dynasty cannot be appointed save by the court of seventy one elders and a prophet, as was the case with Yehoshua , who was appointed by Moshe and his court of 70 elders.” The Rambam is thus of the opinion that Yehoshua was invested as a king.

Accordingly, the following must be understood:3 The Rambam rules4 “When a king is appointed, he is to be anointed with anointing oil.” Why then did Moshe merely lay his hands on Yehoshua and not anoint him?

The Midrash5 notes that Moshe had anticipated that his children would inherit his mantle. G‑d, however, told him: “ ‘He who plants the date palm merits that he eats its fruits.’6 Your children…. did not occupy themselves in Torah. Yehoshua…. since he served you with all his might, is worthy of serving the Jewish people.”

How was it possible for Moshe to assume that his sons would inherit the mantle of leadership when he knew they were guilty of “not occupying themselves in Torah”?

Our Sages explain7 that Moshe hoped to be succeeded by two leaders, one to serve as king and military commander, and the other to lead in Torah. It was in the former position that he hoped to be succeeded by his children. G‑d, however, replied: “Only one will lead them… Yehoshua will be their king… and be their preeminent Torah scholar, for ‘Two kings cannot make use of the same crown.’ ”8

The reason Moshe’s request for two leaders was rejected must be understood. While it is true that “Two kings cannot make use of the same crown,” Moshe desired that his position be divided into two distinct “crowns” — the crown of royalty and the crown of Torah scholarship. Why could they not be separated, with the crown of royalty being inherited by Moshe’s children?

The true function of a Jewish king is described by the Rambam.9 Not only must the king provide the Jewish people with their material needs,10 but his goal must be to “uplift the true religion,” i.e., to see to it that the laws of the Torah are carried out.

Thus, in the Jewish context, regency is an extension of the Jewish high court, whose purpose is to be “the pillars of Torah law for all the Jewish people.”11 The king must ensure that the Torah laws issued by the high court are obeyed by the populace.12

This is why in the Jewish scheme of things, kingship and Torah leadership cannot be viewed as two distinct entities. Rather, they are one continuum; splitting royalty and Torah scholarship results in “two kings utilizing the very same crown.”

The reason Yehoshua’s appointment to leadership came about through Moshe’s laying on of hands and not through anointment will be understood accordingly:

The regal aspect of Yehoshua’s leadership was a direct result of, and wholly secondary to, his Torah leadership. It therefore followed that the mantle of Torah leadership, a mantle transmitted through semichah13 — the laying on of hands — took precedence; anointment was entirely unnecessary.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XXIII, pp. 190-196 .
1.    Bamidbar 27:15-23.
2.    Hilchos Melachim 1:3.
3.    This question is asked by the Minchas Chinuch in his glosses to Rambam ibid.
4.    Hilchos Melachim ibid. 5-7.
5.    Bamidbar Rabbah 21:14; Tanchuma Pinchas 11.
6.    Mishlei 27:18.
7.    Megaleh Amukos, Ofen Alef. Quoted in Yalkut Reuvaini, Bamidbar 27:15.
8.    Chulin 60b.
9.    Conclusion of ch. 4 of Hilchos Melachim.
10.    See Berachos 3b.
11.    Rambam , beg. of Hilchos Mamrim.
12.    See Likkutei Sichos XIX p. 166ff.
13.    See Sanhedrin 14a; Rambam Hilchos Sanhedrin beg. of ch. 4.

Synopsis 2:

"Request Denied"
In this week's Torah portion we read how Moshe asked G-d to "appoint a person upon the congregation"529 as his successor, so that the Jewish people not be left as "sheep without a shepherd." G-d responded to Moshe's request by stating that Yehoshua would be Moshe's successor -- "Take unto you Yehoshua, and place your hand upon him."
The Midrash530 relates that when Moshe said, "appoint a person upon the congregation," he figured that his children would inherit the mantle of leadership. G-d, however, told him: "'He who plants the fig-tree will get to eat its fruit.'531 Your children sat around and didn't occupy themselves in the study of Torah. Since Yehoshua served you with all his energy, he is worthy to serve Israel."

Since Moshe was aware of his sons' lack of Torah study, why did he entertain the thought that one of them would inherit his mantle of leadership?

One could say that Moshe did not desire for one of his progeny to teach the Jewish people Torah, but -- as explicitly stated in his request -- to serve as their king "who will go out and come before them"532 in battle. Since kingship is inherited,533 Moshe felt that his role as king should be passed on to his children.

However, if Moshe only requested kingship for his progeny and not leadership in Torah, then what are we to make of G-d's response "Your children didn't occupy themselves in the study of Torah" -- the issue here is inheriting kingship and has nothing at all to do with Torah leadership?!

In requesting a new leader after his passing, Moshe seemingly uses a redundant expression, "who will go out and come before them" and "who will take them out and bring them in." The Megaleh Amukos534 explains that Moshe in fact desired that there be two leaders, one "who will go out before them" in battle, and one "who will take them out" in Torah.

G-d told Moshe that there could be only one leader, one who was both the king and the leading Torah scholar, since "it is impossible for two kings to share the same crown"535 and "there can be but one spokesman for a generation, and not two."536

The Midrash will be understood accordingly: Since Moshe thought that there should be two leaders, one a king and the other a Torah leader, he felt that the kingship should be inherited by one of his sons. G-d, however, desired that there be but one individual who would be charged with both these tasks. Since Moshe's children lacked Torah scholarship, they obviously couldn't inherit the mantle of this all-inclusive leadership.

Still, we must understand why G-d wasn't satisfied with Moshe's request for two leaders; after all, they wouldn't be "sharing the same crown" -- one of them would wear the "crown of kingship," the other, the "crown of Torah"? Moreover, for many generations this was exactly the manner of Jewish leadership: one individual was king, while another individual -- the head of the High Court -- was the Torah leader.537

In his introduction to Yad HaChazakah, the Rambam describes the manner in which Jewish tradition was handed down from Moshe until R. Ashe. In enumerating the receivers of the Tradition, the Rambam is careful to note that the receiver obtained the Tradition from the previous receiver "and his court" or "colleagues," thereby emphasizing538 that the Tradition was handed down from multitude to multitude, not merely from one individual to another.

We find, however, one notable exception to the above: with regard to receiving the Tradition from Yehoshua, the Rambam changes his wording and is most exact in stating that "many elders received from Yehoshua," without adding "and his court" or "colleagues."

This is because -- as the Rambam notes earlier on -- unlike others of his generation, Yehoshua not only learned Torah from Moshe, but Moshe transmitted the entire Oral Law to Yehoshua -- "Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Yehoshua."539 Thus, it was Yehoshua alone who subsequently transmitted the entire Oral Torah to the elders.

Moshe and Yehoshua then, were unique in that they alone had the entire Tradition of the Oral Torah transmitted solely to them, while the other Torah leaders received the Torah as but one of a multitude -- they were entirely unlike Moshe and Yehoshua.

Therefore, in subsequent generations, when the king would rule supreme540 and the Torah leader -- the head of the Sanhedrin -- would be but one of a court of seventy-one, albeit the court's head,541 there was no contradiction between kingship and head of the Sanhedrin -- the concept of "two kings..." and "but one spokesman" didn't apply.

This was not the case concerning Moshe and Yehoshua, for their Torah leadership was of such magnitude that it earned them the level of leadership of a king. Thus, were there to have been two leaders, one for battle and one for Torah, it would have resulted in "two kings sharing the same crown."

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIII, pp. 190-195

529.  Bamidbar 27:15-23.
530.  Bamidbar Rabbah 21:14; Tanchuma, Pinchas 11. See also Rashi on this verse.
531.  Mishlei 27:18.
532.  Ibid., verse 17 and Rashi; Sifri and Sifri Zuta, ibid.
533.  Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 1:7.
534.  Ofan Alef, quoted in Yalkut Reuveni, on the verse. See also Klei Yakar, ibid. 27:18.
535.  Chulin 60b.
536.  Sanhedrin 8a -- with regard to Yehoshua.
537.  See Rambam, Hilchos Sanhedrin, 1:3
538.  In a letter to Rabbi Pinchas ben R. Mishulim HaDayan.
539.  Avos 1:1.
540. See Sifra, Vayikra 4:22; Horiyos 10a, 11b.
541.  See Sanhedrin 2a.





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