Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson

Levels of Explanation of Historical Events


Various Rabbis

[When Shaul was looking for Shmuel, a meeting that paved the way to Shaul becoming king, he asked a group of young women where Shmuel was, and they gave him a long-winded answer]. Why was [their answer] so long? [The gemara cites three answers]: because women are talkative; so that they could look at Shaul’s good looks; because one kingdom cannot touch another kingdom even the width of a hair (While Shmuel was to cede leadership to Shaul, the time had not quite come for the transfer- Rashi).

Ein Ayah: There are three categories of causes for events: natural, choice-related, and providential. The last is the most basic, as Hashem provides a proper background for each event, as everything has its time. We learn from here that even when we know the providential reason, we should investigate its natural cause, which usually exists, and the choice-related reason. Through all of these we will arrive at a more complete knowledge of the high way in which Hashem runs the world, which is a foundation of understanding Hashem.
In this case, the natural reason was the women’s talkativeness. The choice-related element was their desire to look at Shaul. The reason that transcends the others is that one kingdom cannot touch another kingdom even the width of a hair. All three elements could teach something to Shaul, who was to assume leadership of Israel.
A person of an elevated spirit, in particular, often needs low-level improvements for practical purposes. Because of his focus on lofty matters, he is likely to overlook small things, including matters that can be broken again and again into sub-parts. Someone who is not on the level to look for all-encompassing issues finds it easier to pick up on more detailed matters. A wise king should be able to widen his mind so that, while being involved in lofty overarching issues, he can still be concerned with the problems of an individual in dire straits.
Chazal tell us that women have more bina (wisdom/intuition) than men do (Nidda 45b). Some connect this idea to the generalization that women are also more talkative. Loquaciousness is not a sign of the highest level of human intellectuality/spirituality. But speech is related to the expansive ability to feel and be connected to every person and thing in the world instead of being removed and thinking only about lofty matters. Shaul’s exposure at the time of his ascension to talkativeness and involvement in details was a lesson to try to improve his concern for every individual while still staying on the high level in which loquaciousness is not befitting.
Shaul’s impressive looks were also noticeable at that time. While beauty lacks intrinsic value, it is a tool of the kingdom, as our sources stress (see Yeshaya 33:17; Taanit 17a). While the description of Shaul as "heads and shoulders above the rest of the nation" fit him internally as much as externally, it was time for him to notice the impact of his appearance on others. Suddenly, an unimportant trait became important as an aid to national leadership.
The matter of exact timing for a leadership change, as well as exact boundaries in anything halachic legal, are important to contemplate. When one is involved in general lofty concepts, he may not always see the need to be concerned with a small lack of preciseness. However, these fine details are actually more important matters of morality than we can discern. Therefore Hashem, in presiding over the world, is very careful about precision. Hashem delayed Shaul that small bit, as he was to notice and learn from later. When Shaul was not careful about precise timing and order and did not wait the full seven days as Shmuel had commanded him, he paid the price, whereas David would later on be careful. This is part of the humility one needs - to realize that his view of the present is so weak in relation to Hashem’s ability to see the grand scheme of all creation. Coordinating the general with the specific is related to the foundation of setting proper boundaries, connecting eternity to the present time, which is the ongoing eternity. This is important if the institution of Jewish monarchy is to last with righteous stability.
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