203-204/929. Life Before Vitamin P. Yehoshua 16-17.

Vitamin P, Anglosaxon olim call it, initially with a resentful grimace, and gradually with resigned acceptance. Protexia, using personal connections, is what makes the world go round in these parts, whether you’re applying for a job, or a permit, or you need a problem solved. You can try to go through the standard channels, which sometimes works, but more often than not involves labrynths of lines in endless, futile bureaucracy. Or, you can find the person who you served with in the army, or who dated your cousin, or went to the same youth movement, who can make the bureaucracy disappear.

People may at times try to cast “protexia” in a positive light, emphasizing the close, family connections that exist in this small country. But especially for those of us who left our network of close friends and family to make our lives here, it can be quite irksome to be reminded that, although we’re all one big family here, some people are apparently more family than others. Let’s put it bluntly. Protexia is an undemocratic, unfair way of doing business, which puts those who are marginalized at a distinct disadvantage.

Chapters 16 and 17 offer a glimpse into an Israel before Vitamin P came on the market. As Yehoshua portions the land out to his own tribesmen, there are noticeably less cities mentioned than in the previous chapter, about the tribe of Yehuda. So much so, that his family comes to complain. Why did we get so little? Your own family, Yehoshua!

Yehoshua’s answer is clear, and it is the antithesis to the corruption of protexia. It’s called- you want more, then work for it.  You’re a great, mighty tribe. Don’t come asking for  favors, don’t offer excuses, go out and do what needs to be done. Like Machir, father of Gilad, who conquered the lands of Og. Like the daughters of Tzelafchad, who insisted on and received a large portion of the tribe’s lands inside Israel. Like Yehoshua himself, who reached his position without any protexia at all, by the merit of his unceasing service of Moshe.


There’s a Sukkot tie-in here, too, but I’ll leave that to the reader’s imagination. This blog follows the daily chapter of Tanach studied with the 929 project. Learn more at

About the Author
Avidan Freedman is one of the founders of Yanshoof (, an organization dedicated to stopping Israeli arms sales to human rights violators, and an educator at the Shalom Hartman Institute's high school and post-high school programs. He lives in Efrat with his wife Devorah and their 5 children.
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