Tag Archive for David
|This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s, Yissachar Frand, Yossi bilus, Asher Hurzberg and Mrs. Leah Kohn|
L o y a l t y
We’re loyal to our jobs; we’re loyal to our country; we’re loyal to our spouse; we’re even loyal to our sports teams (Go, Mets)!! Loyalty is something we do. There are even loyalty programs that reward buyers for sticking with company brands. Perhaps we should even start a loyalty program with our “Cup of Coffee” newsletter. This notion of loyalty programs proposed by major US companies has steadily grown in popularity. Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. loyalty memberships increased by 10 percent per year – reaching on average over 23 memberships per household.
However, a McKinsey study showed that those that spend more on loyalty, or have more visible loyalty programs, grow at about the same rate – or slightly slower – than those that do not. Oops! Never mind about that proposal for our “Coffee”. Despite relative underperformance in terms of revenue growth and profitability, over the past five years, market capitalization for companies that greatly emphasize loyalty programs has outpaced that of companies that don’t. In other words, companies are still hoping and yearning that they will be rewarded with customer loyalty in due time. Nevertheless consumers, for the most part, are not loyal. Perhaps, human nature is such that, people want to believe that loyalty is important to all and therefore companies are banking on that premise.
The beginning of Parshas Tazria deals with the laws of purity and impurity associated with childbirth. At the end of the 40 day period of impurity and purity following the birth of a male, or at the end of the 80 day period of impurity and purity following the birth of a female, the mother is required to bring “a sheep within its first year for an olah-offering and a young dove or a turtle dove for a sin-offering” to complete her purification process [Vayikra 12:6].
WHY SPECIFICALLY THE YOUNG DOVE OR TURTLE DOVE?
Even though there are many kinds of kosher birds, the only kinds of birds that may be brought as sacrifices on the Altar are the young dove [ben-yonah] and the turtle dove [tor].
The Ramban writes that the Torah singled out torim as an appropriate species for karbanot-sacrifices, precisely because of their loyalty to each other. The tor [turtle dove] has a unique quality in the fact that it mates for life. If its partner is taken away from it or killed, it will not seek out another mate, but will seemingly mourn – as it were – for the first mate for the rest of its life. This unique quality makes them the optimum choice for spiritual elevation sought by the one bringing a bird sacrifice. The Ramban adds that even though bnei-yonah do not share this quality, they have an alternate characteristic which makes them appropriate. The young dove (the only kind of “ben yonah” which may be brought) has the trait that they always return to their nest. Most birds will never return to their nest once a human being touches it. The bnei yonah are an exception. They have such loyalty to their nests that they will return despite the fact that human hands may have tampered with the nest. The Ramban writes “So too Israel will not switch from loyalty to their Creator and His Torah forever.” Therefore, according to the Ramban, torim and bnei Yonah are the bird species used in the Bait HaMikdash because they share the quality of loyalty with the Jewish people
Of course, how is it possible to talk about loyalty and not discuss the most sacred union built on loyalty, namely the one between husband and wife?
Our beloved and popular king, whom we often associate with royalty, David had a wife who was the daughter of the previous king, Shaul. When David beat Goliath he was rewarded, as promised, the king’s daughter Michal. Now, Shaul was under much pressure from having to deal with the popularity of David, as David killed the heavily favored Goliath, and Shmuel’s prophecy which said that it was David who will reign after Shaul.
We learn in the Navi that Shaul was jealous of David and wanted to kill him. Interestingly, both David and Shaul were hailed righteous and have their sacred place in heaven. Hence the reader has to realize the difficult situation the two are in for, as there is no good guy or bad guy in this historic chain of events. Saul knows this prophecy to be already in motion, given that he has already experienced a loss of the special divine connection granted by God to leaders of the Jewish people. Even so…..
“…Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with a spear; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the spear into the wall; and David fled, and escaped that night. And Saul sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him and to slay him in the morning; and Michal David’s wife told him, saying: ‘If thou save not thy life tonight, to-morrow thou shalt be slain.’ So Michal let David down through the window; and he went, and fled, and escaped. And Michal took the teraphim, and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goats’ hair at the head thereof, and covered it with a cloth. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said: ‘He is sick’. And Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying: ‘Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.’ And when the messengers came in, behold, the teraphim was in the bed, with the quilt of goats’ hair at the head thereof. And Saul said unto Michal: ‘Why hast thou deceived me thus, and let mine enemy go, that he is escaped?’ And Michal answered Saul: ‘He said unto me: Let me go; why should I kill thee?'” (I Samuel, 19: 10 – 17)
The above passage relates one incident in the ongoing conflict between David and Saul. In this instance Michal (who is both David’s wife and Saul’s daughter) is directly involved in the sequence of events. She finds herself in the middle of the struggle between the two men and is forced to choose between two family members whom she loves and admires and who are important pillars of the Jewish nation. Because of her equally deep connection to Saul and David, Michal will most likely cause great pain to whomever she does not ultimately assist.
Michal’s decision is a difficult one, but her responsibilities under the circumstances in which she finds herself are outlined by Jewish law. The Torah obligates a married woman to act first and foremost in support of her husband, if he is in need. As the text relates, Michal does so by helping David to escape from their home, and then creating a “stand-in” so to speak for her husband, by disguising a life size statue with a wig of goat’s hair and placing it in bed under the covers. She next tells Saul’s men who have come for David that her husband is sick and cannot be extradited to the palace. This ruse buys time enough for David to escape to safety.
Michal’s obligation to her father, Saul, runs diametrically opposite her responsibilities to David. Specifically, the Torah prohibits a child from causing pain to a parent – and Michal knows her father will suffer, once he finds out she has orchestrated David’s escape. Thus, under the inordinate pressure of a life or death situation, Michal must quickly make her decision and act. She does so, with great loyalty to Torah, by saving David, as Torah dictates she must. And having acted within the parameters of Jewish law, Michal might have stopped at this point and found consolation for her own distress as well as for the inevitable pain of her father. She might have admitted to herself that – like many difficult decisions in life – this one involved human suffering.
While others in her position may have chosen this route to resolution, Michal pushes onward, and this is where she distinguishes herself as a great Jewish heroine. She insists upon re-evaluating the situation and in doing so, she comes up with a plan to spare her father any pain, by relating to her father a second version of what has transpired with David. When Saul realizes that Michal has enabled David’s departure, he asks her, “Why hast thou deceived me thus, and let mine enemy go, that he is escaped?” The answer Michal contrives – “He said unto me: Let me go; why should I kill thee?” – implies for Saul’s benefit that David did not want to harm his wife in order to prevent her from informing Saul of his escape. In addition, her response conveys the message that, even when his own life is in danger, David is careful not to inflict harm on another. Michal suggests to her father that, for the sake of their marriage and because of his true love for his wife, David had virtually begged Michal to assist him and to gain for him the extra time necessary for his escape to safety.
Michal suggests to her father – hoping he will conclude on his own – that David is a person of high caliber, who has a high regard for the life of each and every individual, who cherishes his marriage, and whose character Saul might well reassess. From this point of view, Saul may reconsider his own decision to kill David. Seeing how David cares so deeply for the life of others, Saul may ultimately conclude that David wants neither to harm him nor rebel against him. Michal’s subtle appeal to Saul takes place on an emotional level, as a daughter’s request that her father reconsider his opinion of the husband she so loves and esteems.
Michal’s plan works. For the moment she convinces Saul to cease his pursuit of David.
There is an amazing story pertaining to the great Rabbi Chaim Berlin. He would often read the Shir Hasirim to the congregation on Shavuot, as per the Ashkenazi custom, and would get choked up when reading the passage “Your eyes are beautiful like a dove”. The Sages suggest that King Shlomo was referring G-d talking his children, bnei Yisrael. When asked, why he would react that way, he respond that as a mohel he was once approached, discreetly, by someone who wanted him to perform circumcision on his son. However the father emphasized “there will not be a minyan (quorum of ten men) present” for he did not want anyone to discover that he was Jewish. The Rabbi complied and the circumcision was performed with only the Mohel the father and a close friend present.
Sometime later, the Rabbi reached out to the father and asked “I don’t understand. It seems like you’re completely removed from Judaism where you don’t even resemble in any way, being a Jew, why would you care then if your son is circumcised?
The father answered, “I made my choice not to practice Judaism however if my son ever decides to pursuit the idea of being Jewish I don’t want the brit Milah to be an obstacle, to stand in his way, if he wants to return.”
Rabbi Chaim Berlin would cry when reading this particular passage, for a dove never strays too far from the nest for he knows that no matter what, he’ll always return. The same thing applies to us Jews. Even though we stray a bit far in our hearts we always know we can return. That is loyalty!
Michal offers today’s couple an example of exemplary conduct, even under duress. Given that we spend a great deal of time under the duress of day to day life in our fast paced world, Michal remains a role model who performed loyalty to her husband, a trait that G-d seeks in all of us.
A final story. When Rabbi Pinchas Sheinberg’s wife was very ill laying in a coma at the hospital, the old and frail Rabbi would make it his business to visit her every day. One of the nurses asked the Rav Sheinberg, “Rabbi why do you come here every day? She doesn’t see you”. He replied “I’m not here so my wife to see me; I’m here to see my wife”..
This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s Yissachar Frand, Yitzchak Aminov, Yossi Bilus