Sunday, December 14, 2008

David's Mistakes?

The following are a number of source that I touch upon in the two shiurim that I have given so far on this topic. They can be hear here:

Source #1
The Ralbag points to David's chesed with Mephiboshet (chapter 9) and Hanun (chapter 10) as examples of the mishpat and tz'daka that he administered to his people:

רלב"ג שמואל ב, מן התועליות אחר פרק כא
השלשים ותשעה הוא להודיע יושר דוד שכבר היה עושה משפט וצדקה לכל עמו לא היה מעלים עינו מאחד מהם כי זאת התכונה ראוי שתהיה למלך הגון וראוי לזאת הסבה זכר גם כן שכבר חרד דוד אם נותר איש לבית שאול ויעשה לו חסד ה' בעבור יהונתן ולזה גם כן ספר שגם לחנון בן נחש השתדל דוד לעשות חסד להשיב לו גמול תחת החסד שגמל לו אביו:
Ralbag, Shmuel II, from the "Lessons" found after chapter 21
The thirty-ninth (lesson) is to make known David's righteousness, that he "administered justice (mishpat) and charity (tz'daka) for all his people". He did not lift his eye from a single individual as this is the character befitting a proper king. For this reason it was proper to also mention that David worried himself over whether anyone was left from the house of Saul so that the chesed of God could be done for him for the sake of Jonathan. This is also why it tells that David also sought to do chesed with Hanun the son of Nahash in order to repay the chesed his father did for him.
Source #2
In the following source the Ralbag, interestingly, identifies the source of the problems David begins to face later with Avshalom, Amnon and Adoniyahu as the fact that he gave them positions of authority during his life time. I find this surprising because nearly all of those events are the result (either as natural consequence or as Divine punishment) of his sin with BatSheva as the Ralbag himself explains in his 43rd toelet.
המ' הוא להודיע שאין ראוי לאדם שיתן ממשלה לבניו בחייו הלא תראה מה שקרה לדוד מהרע מפני מה שעשה בניו שרים כי לולי זה לא היה חוטא אמנון עם אחותו ולא מרד אבשלום בו ולא קרה לאדניהו מה שקרה וזה מבואר מאד:
The fortieth (lesson) is to make known that it is not fitting for a person to give positions of authority to his sons during his life. Is it not evident that the evil that befell David was because he placed his sons in positions of authority? If it were not for this Amnon would not have sinned with his sister, Avshalom would not have rebelled, and what happened to Adoniyahu would not have happened. This is all very clear.

Source #3
In the following source it is, once again, interesting that the Ralbag does not identify any wrong doing in David seeking to do chesed with the son of one of the greatest enemies of Israel.
המ"א הוא להודיע איך עמקו מחשבות הש"י ששם עשות דוד חסד לחנון בן נחש כלי להשחי' בני עמון ועזריהם כי זה היה סבה אל שילקח חנון עבדי דוד וביישם ובזם בתכלית מה שאפשר והם בעצמם היו סבה להדיח על עצמם הרעה לחשבם כי נבאשו בדוד:
The forty-first is to make known the depth of God's "thoughts". He devised that the chesed David did for Hanun the son of Nahash would become an instrument to destroy the Children of Amon and their allies. It became the very cause of Hanun taking David's servants and embarrassing and shaming them to the most extreme degree. They themselves became the cause of the evil that befell them - for they thought "they had become odious to David" (Sh'muel II, 10:6).

Source #4
The Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi) cites two midrashim that point to the folly of David's choice to do chesed with Hanun.

רד"ק שמואל ב פרק י, פסוק ב
כאשר עשה אביו עמדי חסד - אמרו כי כשהיה בורח דוד ובאו אליו אביו ואמו ואחיו ואמר וינחם את פני מלך מואב הרגם מלך מואב אחר שהיו עמו חוץ מאח' מהם שברח לארץ בני עמון והחיהו נחש מלך בני עמון, ובדרש עוד לא תדרוש שלומם וטובתם אתה מוצא במי שבא אליהם במדת רחמים סוף בא לידי בזיון ואיזה זה שנאמ' אעשה חסד עם חנון וגו' סוף בא לידי בזיון ויקח חנון את עבדי דודי וגו' ונצטרך להלחם עם ארבע אומות בני עמון וארם צובא ואיש טוב ומלך מעכה מי גרם לו לדוד כל זה שבקש לעשות טובה עם מי שאמר הקב"ה לא תדרוש שלומם וטובתם אמר לו הקב"ה לדוד אתה עובר על תורתי אני כתבתי לא תדרוש שלומם וטובתם ואתה עושה עמהם חסד אל תהי צדיק הרבה מכאן שלא יהא אדם מוותר על התורה:
Commentary of Rabbi David Kimchi, Sh'muel II, 10:2
just as his father showed me kindness they said (B'midbar Rabba 14, 1), that when David ran away and his father, mother and brothers came to him, and it says (Sh'muel I, 22:4), "And he brought them before the king of Moab". The king of Moab killed them once they were with him except for one of them that escaped to the land of the Children of Amon, and Nahash the king of the Children of Amon kept him alive.

In another d'rash (Midrash Tanchuma, Pinchas 3) "Do not seek their welfare or their good." (D'varim 23:7), you find that one who comes to them in kindness will ultimately be disgraced. What is the actual case? As it says (Sh'muel II, 10:2), "I shall do chesed to Hanun..." and ultimately he came to disgrace: "And Hanun took the servants of David..." (v. 4) causing him to have to go to war with four nations, the Children of Amon, Aram Tzovah, Ish Tov and King Ma'akha. What caused all of this to befall David? He sought to do good with one whom the Holy One, blessed is He said, "Do not seek their welfare or their good." The Holy One, blessed is He said to David, "You go beyond my Torah! I wrote, "Do not seek their welfare or their good", and you do chesed with them! "Do not be overly righteous." (Koheleth 7:16), from here we learn that one should not put aside the Torah.

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