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Beit Midrash Series Parashat Hashavua

“Tomorrow Is the New Month” – So What?

Rabbi Yossef Carmel27 cheshvan 5772
727
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This Shabbat we will read the haftara of Machar Chodesh, in which Yonatan, the son of Shaul, helped David deal with Shaul’s jealousy and plan for a future Davidic dynasty. We will focus on Yonatan’s rare character, in choosing that which is right and noble over that which might bring him the crown.
The gemara (Menachot 109b) quotes Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachya, who was a nasi (head of the Jewish community of Israel): "At first, whoever would tell me to ascend to the nesiut, I would have tied him up and placed him before a lion. Now, if someone would tell me to stop being nasi, I would throw a container of boiling water on him. This is what we see in Shaul’s life, as he originally ran away from leadership, and when he became king, he wanted to kill David [for threatening his dynasty]." While Rav Yehoshua ben Perachya felt the difficulty of giving up power and Shaul failed in this regard, Yonatan was able to actually save and help his rival ascend to the throne.
The deep friendship between David and Yonatan began after David’s defeat of Goliat. The navi relates that they made a pact and that Yonatan took off his cloak and gave it to David along with his battle equipment (Shmuel I, 18:3-4). We see in other episodes having to do with Shaul that the cloak is the symbol of the right to kingdom. When Shmuel informed Shaul that he had lost the kingdom and Shaul (accidentally) ripped Shmuel’s garment, Shmuel responded that this was a sign that Hashem had ripped the kingdom away from him (ibid. 15: 26-28). Giving over the military equipment was also a sign of giving over responsibility for the army, which is also a responsibility of the king. Later on, Yonatan said explicitly: "You will rule over Israel, and I will be for you a second in command" (ibid. 23:27).
Based on an explanation I heard from my teacher, Rav Yehoshua Bachrach, we can explain the opening to our haftara along the same lines. "Tomorrow is the new month" is a reference to the fact that in the near future, there will be a new moon, with the significance being that the Davidic dynasty is compared to the moon (see Rashi, Rosh Hashana 25b). The words "v’nifkadta ki yipaked moshavecha" have a double meaning as well, as not only does it mean that you will be missed because your place will be empty but also that you will be appointed to an important position. Rashi explains the beginning of the next pasuk, "v’shilashta teireid m’od," as: on the third day you will go deep into hiding. However, shalish can also refer to a military leader (see Shemot 14:7). The root reid also can refer to dominion, as is found in Bereishit 1:28 regarding man’s dominion over the animal kingdom. Finally "you will come to the place" can be hinting to the fact that David will be the one to find "the place that Hashem will choose" (Devarim 12:5) and build the Beit Hamikdash there.
Hopefully we will soon have leaders who will see the potential in others to succeed in leadership and promote that which is in the best interests of the nation, not the interests of themselves and their families.
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