Bucking the Trend

This week, we read about the spies sent to look at the Land of Cana’an, who came back with a bad report — the land is filled with giants, they said, and even if we were to somehow beat them, the land consumes its inhabitants! Only two of the spies came back ready to talk about the “very, very good… land flowing with milk and honey.” Those two were Yehoshua (Joshua) from the tribe of Ephraim, and Kalev ben Yefuneh from the tribe of Yehudah (Judah).

The Torah tells us that Yehoshua’s name was really Hoshea, but Moshe added a letter Yud at the beginning of his name. He knew prophetically what was to happen, and prayed that “‘Y-h’ (G-d) should ‘yoshea’ (save) you from the plan of the spies.”
But what about Kalev? Who prayed for him?

The Talmud (Sotah 11b) points out that Kalev’s real name was, just like Hoshea’s, not the one given to us in the Torah. In I Chronicles 2 the descendants of Judah are recorded. He had five sons, the fourth of whom was Perez. Perez had two sons, Chetzron and Chamul. [Chetzron’s son Ram was the grandfather of Nachshon ben Amminadav, who “triggered” the parting of the Sea by entering the water — and Nachshon’s great-great-grandson was King David ben Yishai.]

Chetzron also had another son… named Kalev. This, the Talmud tells us, is the same person identified in the Torah as Kalev ben Yefuneh.

So if Kalev’s father’s name was Chetzron, why was he identified as Kalev ben Yefuneh in the Torah? The Talmud explains: because he was the son who “Panah” (turned away) from the plan of the spies.

Kalev had both the wisdom and fortitude to recognize when those around him were turning off the path, and to avoid following them “off the cliff.” There are times when “everyone” in society around us is doing and/or advocating for something very wrong, and it isn’t so easy to be in the minority, blindly following the old Sage (in this case, Moshe himself) who is surely leading us to destruction. May we all find the strength of Kalev to “buck the trend!”

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