Nach Yomi for Avraham

A worldwide project aimed at developing beki'ut in Tanach, inspired by, and as zechut for, R' Avraham Norin (Avraham Dov ben Golda)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yehoshua chapter 2- 2 Nissan (Friday, March 31)

Yehoshua - Chapter 2 English text with Rashi in English

o The mission- 2:1
Yehoshua sends two meraglim (spies) to scout out the land.
o Rachav and the soldiers- 2:2-8
They stay at the home of Rachav,a zonah (harlot?),who hides them when the king of Jericho sends troops to find them.
o Rachav’s dialogue with the Meraglim 2:9-21

After misdirecting the soldiers, Rachav tells the meraglim that the land is in terror of Hashem’s might,and is aware of all of the miracles done for Klal Yisrael. She asks them to that swear they will repay this by saving her family when Jericho is conquered. The meraglim told her to tie a crimson thread to her window when the war comes, and her household will be saved..
o The return- 2:22-24
She sends them to the mountains for three days to hide from the soldiers, after which they return toYehoshua.
(prepared by Shoshi Kramer)

Links:
· An overview of the perek from the OU .
· Yehoshua' spies as analyzed in Chassidus by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt'l zya'a
· Contrasts between the meraglim of Moshe and those sent by Yehoshua by R" Yonatan Grossman.

Sending Spies by R' Yehuda Eisenberg (Hebrew)
· Click to see a map of the route of the meraglim.
· Listen to a leining of the second perek by Rabbi Jeremy Wieder.

Questions for Discussion:
1) It is interesting to note, that while the term “meragel” is used for the spies here, it is never used in Chumash for the so-called meraglim! Where did our convention come from?

2)What is the significance of Rachav being a zonah?

3)The chut ha-shani, or scarlet thread, is an intriguing symbol. It is reminiscent of the crimson rope used as part of the Avodas Yom haKippurim as a symbol of the forgiveness of sins, and of the prophecy of Yeshayahu, where "shanim" is a symbol of sin. Any further thoughts of its relevance to the story here?

5 Comments:

Blogger Tamar said...

Rachav's Scarlet Thread of Hope
(an excerpt from a paper I wrote while studying in Michlalah):

"Your lips are like a scarlet thread…" This refers to the Meraglim, who were beautiful to promise and made sure to keep the promise they made to Rachav HaZonah, like it says: "את תקות חוט השני הזה תקשרי בחלון..." The scarlet thread symbolizes this promise. (Rashi).

The Maom Loez elaborates on the Gadlus of the Meraglim—which is seen from the fact that they kept their promise to Rachav HaZonah. He writes that in most wars, average soldiers are busy looting the city, burning the captured lands, and--in some cases--engaging in rape. The pious "warriors of Israel" were quite the antithesis! Instead, they remembered their promise and saved Rachav and her family. As Rashi eloquently stated, "Comely are the lips that promise and then honor their promise!"

Sefer Machseh Atik brings an interesting Medrash (Medrash HaGadol, Chayei Sarah, pg. שעא): the two Meraglim that Yehoshua sent to spy out Yericho were Peretz and Zerach, of whom it is written "ואחר יצא אחיו אשר על ידו השני". The 'Tikvat Chut HaShuni' is referring to this red string which was tied onto Zerach's hand.
According to Malbim, the 'Chut HaShuni' was a provision of the Meraglim's promise. They vowed to save Rachav and her household on the condition that she ties a "Tikvat Chut HaShuni" in the window. This Tikvat Chut Hashuni was either a scarlet rope (Rashi), a fine line twisted from fibers of scarlet linens (Radak) or a ball of red threads, from the lashon on Mikveh—a gathering (R' Yishaya). This red string was Rachav's only hope (Tikvah) for survival (Kli Yakar).

This idea is hinted to in Mishlei (31:21): "She does not fear the snow for her household, for all her household is clothed in red.."לא תירא לביתה משלש כי כל ביתה לבש שנים" Literally, this pasuk refers to the Eishes Chayil, who doesn't fear the cold weather, for she clothed her entire household with red wool, which is known for its warmth (Metzudat Dovid). The Midrash, however, teaches us that this is a reference to Rachav, who had no fear of Bnei Yisrael conquering Yericho, because she had complete faith in the crimson thread that would serve as a sign for the Meraglim to save her household.

Why was this scarlet thread chosen as a symbol of Rachav's future salvation? The Daat Mikreh poses the possibility that because Rachav gave them a rope to climb down the wall of Yericho, the Meraglim decided to use this exact rope as a sign to signal out Rachav's house during the future conquest. The seemingly extra word, 'Tikvat,' is added to show that through this scarlet rope, Rachav will be granted hope for her future (Kli Yakar).

Chazal (אליהו זוטא פרב) teach us: "Why was she called Rachav? Because she became 'Richava B'zchuyot' (plentiful in her merits)—and she merited that Niv'eim descended from her." In Bamidbar Rabbah, Chazal teach us that eight Niv'eim descended from the children of Rachav and Yehoshua (including Yechezkel Ben Buzi).

Through which Zchuyot did Rachav merit such righteous, important descendents? The Mechilta (18:1) clarifies the transformation of Rachav from a harlot to a full-fledged Baalat Teshuva. "She (Rachav) said, 'Master of the world, with these three things I sinned, and with these exact objects, please forgive me: the rope, the window and the wall." Rachav was known throughout the world for being an experienced harlot. Through her immoral relations, she fell to the bottom of the 48 levels of Tumah. Her rope was of a scarlet shade—indicating the impurity and sin which defined her and pervaded her actions. It was this rope that she used to bring up the men through her window, in order to have relation with them.

Yet, Rachav rose above her immoral reputation, and found the strength within herself to finally accept the yoke of G-d. In doing Teshuva, she used the three things she had previously used for Tumah—the rope, the window and the wall—in order to help hide the spies and get them out of the city before the guards caught them.

In Hilchos Teshuva (82:1), the Rambam writes about the highest level of Teshuva—Teshuva G'mura. A person can only complete the Teshuva process when he is given the opportunity to transgress the exact same sin he previously committed, but rises above his desires and does not commit the same act. This was the level of Rachav's Teshuva.

The theme of repentance is at the crux of the entire episode of the Meraglim and Rachav. According to Sefer Shirat Shlomo, it seems as if there was no need for Yehoshua to write this story down for generations. After all, on a surface level, the Meraglim didn’t accomplish much on their mission. They went to spy out Yericho, and ended up coming back to the Jewish camp with just the rumors and opinion of one woman—Rachav. It is therefore only logical to assume that there was a different purpose for this mission: saving Rachav from her spiritual annihilation, and teaching future generations about the power of Teshuva.
Rachav is the quintessential Baalat Teshuva. As a harlot, she had descended to the lowest of the 48 levels of Tumah. She had baggage—a reputation across the world as one of the most professional harlots around. Yet, Rachav did Tshuva Gmura. She purified the rope, window and wall—and, undoubtedly, succeeded in turning her scarlet sins into purified Mitzvot. In that Zchut, she merited to have eight Niv'eim descended from her.

1:48 AM  
Blogger Simon M. Jackson said...

Insight into Perek Bet (by Simon Jackson, Yishuv Elazar, Gush Etzion, Israel):

One cannot help but notice the many parallels in language and theme between this Perek and Perek 19 of Sefer Bereshit (Lot and the angels).

In both cases, a treaty is made with one person (Lot; Rachav) to save the whole family.

Sexual overtones are evident in both (Chazal's identification of Rachav as a baker/innkeeper, while behind the store-front lurks other immoral behaviour – note the very name "Rachav" literally means "large"; cf. too the use of the verb "yediah" in both chapters – to mean sexual knowledge: Rachav did NOT know the men, but ironically she did know Hashem, i.e. she had Yediat Hashem, while the depraved men of Sedom wanted to "know" Lot's guests).

Both take place in the evening and at the gate. Sedom is also in the same locale as Yericho!

Note the common phrases: "terem yishkavu"; "ayei ha'anashim asher…"; running off to the mountains.

The story of Rachav thus incorporates and draws (negative) parallels from the earlier Bereshit story. In the same way as Avraham wondered whether everyone was totally bad and deserved to be destroyed in Sedom, so, too, does Yehoshua. YEHOSHUA IS THUS PLACED IN THE SAME POSITION AS AVRAHAM – HE IS, IN EFFECT, A NEW AVRAHAM! Just as Avraham Ha'Ivri crossed the Yarden, then Ai, then Beit El, Gilgal and Shechem – YEHOSHUA FOLLOWS IN HIS FOOTSTEPS!

By bringing the survivors into the Promised Land, HE IS REDEEMING A DREAM, A PROMISE MADE TO THE FOUNDER OF AM YISRAEL, AVRAHAM, SOME 400 YEARS EARLIER. Yehoshua thus wears the hat of Jewish history, it is about redeeming the people and bringing to fruition an idea made already to Avraham. Until now, he has been living in the shadow of Moshe – now he slowly begins to assume his own identity and independent leadership qualities based on the founder of the Jewish People.

And ironically, it is the faithless who can sometimes end up being the most faithful in Avraham's goal of creating a faith community (cf. Rachav).

Based on an idea heard by Rabbi Seth Farber, in London, at a conference ("Lishma") co-organized by the author in 1997.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Aryeh Wiener said...

The scarlet rope alludes to the blood of the Qorban Pesah which was daubed on the doorposts of the Israelites in Egypt. Just as this blood protected these homes from the plague of the first born while the Egyptian homes were smitten, the scarlet rope served as a sign to the spies that Rahab and her family were to be spared the fate of the other residents of Jericho.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Howard A. Jackson said...

Re Simon M. Jackson's posting:

YOUR EXCELLENT MATERIAL FROM RABBI SETH FARBER FITS WELL WITH A SHIUR I ONCE HEARD FROM RABBI DAVE MEYER IN LONDON. RE BEREISHIT 12:8 AND RASHI AD LOC, THAT AVRAHAM PRAYED FOR MERCY FROM HASHEM IN THE LIGHT OF ACHAN'S FUTURE SIN. THE VILNA
GAON SAYS THAT HAD AVRAHAM NOT DAVENED FOR ACHAN HERE IN LECH LECHA THE WHOLE OF KIBBUSH HAARETZ WOULD HAVE BEEN HALTED BY HASHEM. IF THE FIRST STAGE WOULD HAVE BEEN FLAWED, THEN THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IT! SO AVRAHAM ASKS HASHEM TO CONSIDER HIS ENTRY TO ERETZ YISRAEL AS THE BEGINNING OF KIBBUSH HAARETZ, AND NOT YEHOSHUA
AND HIS ERA.

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See ADDeRabbi discussing this perek, and the comments there!

10:18 AM  

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