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Following the question on the order of Moses' teaching Torah to Israel, I noticed that the procedure does mention Aharon, Aharon's sons, the elders, and the people, but not Yehoshuah as Moses's successor in the transmission of the Torah.

Was Yehoshua left out purposefully? Was Yehoshua's way of study with Moses different?


The source (Eruvin.54b):

The Sages taught the baraita: What was the order of teaching the Oral Law? Moses learned directly from the mouth of the Almighty. Aaron entered and sat before him, and Moses taught him his lesson as he had learned it from God... Aaron’s sons entered, and Moses taught them their lesson while Aaron listened... The elders entered and Moses taught them their lesson.
Moses then departed to his tent, and Aaron taught the others his lesson as he had learned it from Moses. Aaron then departed and his sons taught the others their lesson. His sons then departed and the elders taught the rest of the people their lesson. Hence everyone, Aaron, his sons, the elders and all the people, heard the lesson taught by God four times.

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  • Didn't he teach Yehoshua as well? sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.1.1 Aug 16 at 19:37
  • @Kazibácsi The Mishnah says "he passed it on", but it does not say Moses taught Yehoshua. Passing is actually a very vague thing, that does not necessitate prolonged study, it's more like the "spirit" that Moses passed on him.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 16 at 19:49
  • @kazibacsi The order of the teaching was based on honor being accorded. Since Yehoshua wasn't in a position of authority at the time then there was no reason to accord him honor. When Moshe put his hands on him he "gave" him all his knowledge and Yehoshua in turn passed it on to the Elders. This was different than teaching since the Elders learned from Moshe but still had to "receive"from Yehoshua
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 16 at 21:42
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According to the Meiri in his introduction to Avos, Yehoshua stayed in the tent the entire time, so he heard the Torah 4 times from Moshe too, based on the verse that says Yehoshua never left the tent.

והיה הוא ע״ה מוסר התורה ופקודיה וסודותיה וגנזיה לאהרן ולאלעזר ופנחס ויהושע ולזקנים הנאמר עליהם אספה לי שבעים איש כו׳ ולכל העם והוא מה שאמרו במס׳ עירובין נ״ד ב׳ כיצד סדר המשנה כו׳ והעולה מדבריהם הוא שמרע״ה היה מקבל את המצוה עם כל פירושיה ועניניה והיה כותב במצות ה׳ עיקר המצוה בעצמותה בתורה שבכתב וביאוריה היה מלמד על פה והוא ענין תורה שבעל פה כמו שתאמר דרך משל שהוא ע״ה כתב בתורה עיקר מצות הסוכה והוא ענין דכתיב בסוכות תשבו ז׳ ימים אבל למעלה מעשרים ולמטה מיו״ד ושיעור האורך והרוחב והחיוב והפטור ולבוד ודופן עקומה ובמה מסככין ובמה אין מסככין וכיוצא באלו היה מלמד על פה כלומר הקב״ה צוה בסוכה ואין סוכה אלא בדרך זה וכן בכולם והיה סדר לימודו שתחילה היה מלמד לאהרן ואחריו נכנסים אלעזר ואיתמר ולומד להם במעמד אהרן [ואחריהם נכנסים הזקנים ומלמדה להם במעמד אהרן] ובניו (כו׳) ואחריהם נכנסים כל מי שירצה מהמון העם ומלמדה להם במעמד כל הראשונים ואז היה משה יוצא ואהרן מלמד לכולם פעם אחת והיה אהרן יוצא ואלעזר ואיתמר חוזרין ומלמדין לזקנים ולעם והיו הבנים יוצאים והזקנים חוזרין ומלמדין לעם ונמצאו כולם למדים הענין מזולתם ארבעה פעמים אהרן מפי משה ארבעה פעמים ובניו מפי משה ג׳ פעמים ואחת מפי אהרן והזקנים מפי משה ב׳ ואחת מאהרן וא׳ מבניו וכל העם אחת מפי משה ואחת מפי אהרן ואחת מבניו ואחת מפי הזקנים ויהושע כבר ידעת שלא היה זז מתוך האהל וכבר שמעה הוא ד׳ פעמים ממשה

In fact, according to Rashi, Yehoshua's not leaving the tent is exactly why he merited to succeed Moshe. This makes a lot of sense according to the Meiri, because Yehoshua heard the Torah from Moshe the most times of anyone alive.

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  • Since everyone heard it four times, hewas no different from anyone in Israel. But why he's not mentioned at all? If Avot is an ancient tradition, it should have been mentioned in this Midrash.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 17 at 14:47
  • He heard it four times directly from Moshe, which no one else did.
    – N.T.
    Aug 17 at 19:01
  • @AlBerko I don't understand the second part of your question.
    – N.T.
    Aug 17 at 19:04
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Rabbi Ouri Cherki suggests that the differing sources on who received the Torah from Moshe (the one in Eruvin and Avot 1:1, "Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and passed it to Yehoshua") point to the difference between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah (my translation):

"...The Oral Torah, known in Eruvin as "the order of teaching", is needed in order to inform us what we must do actively. Here comes the usage of the hermeneutics that clarify the Torah, whose result is the halacha and not the simple understanding of the text. This is a form of study that requires a set institution that decides what is right in unresolved cases, and this duty is implemented by the priests and elders.

In contrast, the Written Torah teaches the ethical direction that forms the base of the Torah, which is learned from the wording of the text, even if it is not halacha...the one in charge of passing on the ethics of the Torah is the king, who reads from the Torah "so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God" (Devarim 17:19), and even actively acts according to the Written Torah with regards to leading the state (Natziv on Devarim 24:16).

This is evident from our parsha: "Then Moses called Joshua and said to him...“Be strong and resolute, for it is you who shall go with this people into the land..." (Devarim 31:7). On the face of things, Yehoshua is only given military and state duties alone. Immediately afterwards it says: "Moses wrote down this Teaching and gave it to the priests, sons of Levi...and to all the elders of Israel." (ibid. 9). We find here that this matches with what is said in Eruvin, where it is evident that Yehoshua does not take part in the giving over of the Torah. However, immediately afterwards it says: "And Moses instructed them as follows: Every seventh year...you shall read this Teaching aloud in the presence of all Israel." (ibid. 10-11). It says תקרא (singular) and not תקראו (plural). Therefore, Moshe is speaking to Yehoshua specifically, who remained at Moshe's side, as the passer of the ethics of the Torah in the Hak'hel..."

We see, therefore, that according to Rabbi Cherki, Yehoshua was not mentioned in the "order of teaching" because he was not tasked with passing on the laws, but instead mentioned in Avot because he was tasked with the giving over of the ethics of the Torah.1


1 As for the anachronism between the "order of teaching" and the fact that Yehoshua was only chosen as leader at the end of Moshe's life, it's possible, in my opinion, that Yehoshua was always intended to be some sort of military leader/statesman - we see this from the fact that he was chosen by Moshe to fight the Amalekites, plus his tribe chose him to be their spy. Therefore, from the beginning he was already excluded from the role of potential law-giving elder.

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  • How does it fit with Temurah 16a? Aug 17 at 8:57
  • @Kazibácsi I don't see the problem...
    – Harel13
    Aug 17 at 8:59
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    IIUC R' Cherki's words, he says (in an oversimplified way) that the halakhot were the business of the priests and the elders (see Eiruvin), while Joshua had to deal with the ethics (see Avot). Nevertheless, the midrash in Temurah clearly speaks about halakhot. What point am I missing? Aug 17 at 9:04
  • @Kazibácsi That's a good question. I'll have to think about it.
    – Harel13
    Aug 17 at 10:15
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    Thank you. It's a good start. IIRC, we don't have a tradition of such a division, the Oral law is inseparable from ethics, otherwise, it would look that the latter does not stem from the former or has nothing to do with God's commandments.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 17 at 15:00

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