Slight Change

(Torah Portion Behar/Bechukosai) Slight Change!

King David was always on guard to preserve the integrity of the lineage of the Davidic dynasty. King David’s great grandmother was Ruth, a Moavite princess who converted. King David throughout his life was concerned because the Torah forbids a Moavite convert to marry a Jew.

Before Ruth married Boaz, the Jewish Court, the leaders of the Jewish people in Israel at that time, convened and decided based on tradition that the prohibition only applies to Moavite males, however females were permitted.

King David was concerned that perhaps a higher Jewish court would reverse this ruling and would disqualify him. There were of course unscrupulous people who were a constant thorn to King David accusing him of being of a product of Moav and therefore not accepted to marry into the Jewish people.

The first reaction of many people when King David’s name is mentioned, is to bring up the incident concerning his relationship with Batsheva, and they are convinced that King David sinned in an adulterous fashion. As with any scandal – we have to read all the e-mails and gather the information before we pass judgment.

However, if one is serious in gaining clarity about this episode, he must look into the books of the prophets, the commentaries, the Talmud and Medrashim and he will see that King David did not sin. Rather for a person of his stature he acted inappropriately.

King David suffered as a result of this incident, including the loss of a child and he was ultimately forgiven.
In fact, it was his son, Shlomo, who he bore with Batsheva, that reigned immediately after him, and it was Shlomo who built the first Temple. Had King David sinned, Solomon would have been disqualified from becoming the King.

The Talmud tells us that this issue was cleared up in a dramatic setting. When King Solomon was in the midst of dedicating the newly built Temple in Jerusalem, the doors to the Temple would not budge to open. Solomon thought it was due to an infraction of his own.

Solomon finally declared the verse, “Please open the gates in the merit of your servant David,” and the door immediately opened. Upon seeing this, all were convinced that David had not sinned, his ancestry was accepted by G-d, and that he was the true progenitor of the Jewish Kingdom and Messiah.

The Book of Ruth, which our sages tell us was written to establish the lineage of King David, is traditionally read during the upcoming Holiday of Shavuos. One of the reasons why it is read on Shavuos is because King David passed away on Shavuos – and he was born on Shavuos as well.

Rabbi Yaacov Ruderman o.b.m. points out an amazing motivational idea from the story of Ruth. The book relates that Elimelech, the most prominent person in Israel, left the land with his wife Naomi and his two sons Machlon and Chilyon and settled in Moav. Eventually Machlon and Chilyon married Moavite princesses – Ruth and Arpah. There is something to be said of these princesses for they married Jewish men. Their true test of sincerity was when both their husbands and their father in law died and their mother in law, Naomi decided to move back to Israel.

Ruth insisted on coming along, while Arpah went back home. Our Sages tell us that when Arpah returned home she was extremely promiscuous and she bore Goliath.

Ruth’s life continued on the path of Judaism and she married Boaz, the leader of the Jewish people, bearing a son Ovaid whose son Jesse bore David. Incidentally, it was David who killed the powerful and hateful Goliath. Both Ruth and Arpah were faced with a decision to make at a critical time in their lives. This decision shaped the destiny of each of them, one for the good and one for the bad.

Says Rabbi Ruderman; the lesson we learn is how a little decision can shape the destiny of our lives.
Additionally, the fact that these two Moavite princesses even married Jewish men came about through a little decision that their father King Eglon made.

The book of prophets relates that Eglon was once told that he had a message from G-d whereupon he stood up in reverence of the Almighty. This small gesture of honor that the wicked Eglon showed towards the Almighty instilled in his daughters an affinity towards the Jewish people – which eventually led Ruth to continue and ultimately produce King David one of our seven sacred shepherds.

Each year, on the Holiday of Shavuos, the energy that our ancestors gave off when they accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai recharges itself, and each person, on their own level can make a slight decision to further and more deeply embrace the Torah – this small decision has the ability to have a colossal effect on our fortune, blessing and destiny.

Wishing you a most enjoyable and uplifting Shabbat!
Rabbi Dovid Saks