Friday, September 6, 2019

Zera Shimshon - Shoftim

Zera Shimshon - Shoftim 
(שום תשים עליך מלך( זי ' טו )

You shall certainly appoint a king over yourself (17:15) 

The Zera Shimshon expounds on the reign of Shaul HaMelech and the eventual collapse of his rule when his kingship was taken away from him. 

The Gemara asks (Yoma 22b), why indeed, did the sovereignty of Shaul not last? 

The Gemara answers, because it had no flaw. 

The Gemara explains that whenever a leader is chosen to head the Jewish people, he must have some sort of family or lineage flaw (the wording of the Gemara is - he must have a 'box of vermin' hanging behind him) so that in the event that he becomes full of himself, he can easily be reminded to 'look back'. 

Rashi explains, that since there existed no such flaw in Shaul’s lineage, Hashem knew that the subsequent generations would become haughty over the Jewish people. Therefore, He chose Dovid HaMelech instead who had something in his lineage to be humbled with. 

The Gemara brings another reason why Shaul was punished and lost the kingship. 

It was because he pardoned those who belittled his honor as the passuk says (Shmuel I 10:26), 
“But evil people said, 
‘How can this person save us?!’ They ridiculed him and did not bring him a tribute, and he remained mute”. 

The Zera Shimshon suggests that the two reasons given by the Gemara as to why Shaul HaMelech's kingship did not last do not disagree with each other. 

Rather, both reasons are in fact part of the greater cause that brought Shaul to lose his power. 

The primary reason that Shaul was punished was because he pardoned those he should have punished. 

However, had he had some sort of flaw in his lineage, he could have justified doing so by saying that in standing up for the honor of the kingship he would have only brought it greater shame because people would have pointed out his flawed lineage. 
Now that Shaul had no 'box of vermin' to fear thrown back at him, he should have stood up for his honor. Being that he did not, he was punished and the reins of power were taken away from him. 

The Zera Shimshon understands Shaul’s not having a flaw in his lineage as a plus for Shaul which he should have used to his benefit – this is different than Rashi’s understanding of the Gemara quoted above. 

The Zera Shimshon is still bothered by this Gemara since at first glance, Shaul seems to have done the right thing by not standing up for his honor. 

The Zera Shimshon validates this by the fact that from the pessukim it can been seen that there were those that did not yet accept Shaul as the king. 

Regarding another king, Rechavam, who also found himself in the same situation, not having the approval of the entire populace, the elders counseled him (Melachim I 12:7),

 "If today you become a servant to these people and serve them, respond kindly to them and speak kind words to them, they will be your servants all the days." 

If so, why wasn't Shaul's position of not defending his honor, at a time when he was not yet accepted by everyone, not the right course of action? 

The Zera Shimshon explains that although in the case of Rechavam, the right choice was to start with a softer stand, that was because he was chosen by the Jewish people and he still had to earn their true respect and acceptance.
 Shaul on the other hand, was chosen by Hashem and the Jewish people did not have a choice or say in the matter. 
Therefore, Shaul's failure to stand up for his honor as king was in reality a failure to stand up for the honor of Hashem. It was for this that he was punished. 

 The Zera Shimshon points out that interestingly, Shaul HaMelech's punishment was midda keneged midda, measure for measure. His sin was that he had misplaced mercy on the wicked people and did not stand up to them to defend his honor as king. And he lost his right to be king when he showed too much mercy to the wicked people of Amalek and did not wipe them out entirely. 

 In honor of the Zera Shimshon's 240th Yortzeit, we have published a Sefer, 'Zera Shimshon on the Torah' (almost 400 pages).

Available at by the title above.

The 'Zera Shimshon on the Torah' is a collection of the weekly Divrei Torah that were translated into English over the last few years.

Summaries of the lessons learned from his words are found after most of the Divrei Torah.

This Sefer includes a unprecedented, beautiful biography on the Zera Shimshon as well as a small historical sketch of Torah in Italy. This biography will undoubtedly give the reader a greater appreciation for the Zera Shimshon's Divrei Torah, once they learn more about him.

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