• Northeast Kollel

Two Approaches: Diplomacy vs. Confrontation

By Rabbi Yonah Burr



אלה שמות האנשים אשר שלח משה לתור את הארץ ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע

These are the names of the men who Moshe sent to spy out the Land, Moshe called Hoshea son of Nun Yehoshua


Rashi brings the Chazal that Moshe changed the name of Hoshea to Yehoshua as a form of a tefillah- קה יושיעך מעצת מרגלים May Hashem save you from the counsel of the spies.


The question is, why did Moshe only daven for Yehoshua, and not for Kalev? Kalev also withstood being influenced by the spies, and surely, he deserved a supporting prayer as well?


A bit further into the parsha, the passuk says ויעלו בנגב, ויבא עד חברון and they went up to the south, and he went to Chevron. And Rashi brings, that it was Kalev who went to Chevron, to daven at the burial site of the Avos, as a merit to be spared from being influenced by the spies.


Why did only Kalev, and not Yehoshua, daven for success?


The Chofetz Chaim explains, that when one is trying to serve Hashem, and finds himself faced by adversity, there are two possible approaches one may take.


One may confront the challengers head on, standing up for what’s right, and making his position clear from the outset. Or he may employ ‘diplomacy’ - outwardly being agreeable, and seemingly going with the flow, while inside, privately, he maintains his opinion and ideals.


The Chofetz Chaim points out the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches; one who openly confronts the adversity certainly is not at risk of being influenced by his surroundings; consistently stating his opinion and objecting to the wrongdoing that he sees will maintain his inner resolve to do the right thing. The downside, however, is that he alienates those around him, and they might even plot to undermine him and do away with him. The second approach has the advantage of not being at risk of physical harm, because he seems to fit in and be going along with everyone else; perhaps he will even ultimately have the relationship necessary to positively influence those around him. But of course he is at greater risk of losing his own resolve and ultimately compromising his principles in the name of peace.


These two approaches were personified by Yehoshua and Kalev. Yehoshua represents the strong, unyielding personality who would openly voice his opposition when needed. Kalev used the other approach. He tried to gently influence, using a carrot and not a stick.


Moshe prophetically saw these two approaches and therefore davened for Yehoshua’s physical safety. Kalev's approach innately defended him from physical harm, and he did not need this specific tefilla. On the other hand, Kalev was at greater risk for spiritual harm. For this, Kalev himself needed to fortify his resolve by paying a visit to the burial site of the Avos.


The Chofetz Chaim says that indeed, both approaches are valid, provided that they are being used for the sake of Heaven.


In our own Avodas Hashem, especially in our never-ending battle with our Yetzer Hara,we sometimes find that one approach will work better while different circumstances require the other approach.


May we continue to learn from our Gedolim the different strategies how to be successful in our Avodas Hashem!


Have a wonderful Shabbos


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