Shabbat Parashat Masei | 5768
David Hamelech’s Dedication
1. David Hamelech’s Dedication - (based on Berachot 1:15)
Gemara: “[A song of] David: guard my soul for I am pious” (Tehillim 86:2)… This is what David was saying before Hashem: ‘Master of the Universe, am I not pious, for all kings of east and west sleep until three hours into the morning and I at midnight I shall awake to praise you?’
Ein Ayah: One can ask: have we not established that one who works for pay for his friend and, all the more so, if he works for the public, is not allowed to afflict himself, lest he get sick and the work of the public will not get done. This concept is illustrated in the Sifra that says that a worker should not stay up late at night and is found in the poskim [see Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 337:19]. If so, and since no one fits into the category of one who works for the public more than a king, how could David afflict himself with sleep deprivation to such an extent?
What we must say is that David’s love of Hashem was so strong in his heart that because of this love, his service of Hashem was considered to him as rest, and he did not feel any affliction. This is why David stressed that “I am pious” (chassid). He meant by that that he served Hashem through love. Kings of other countries slept longer hours so that they could have a clear heart and find comfort so that they could work effectively on behalf of their nation. However, David said that he would wake up at midnight and would nevertheless not feel tiredness as a result when serving the public, and all of this was due to the true love that he had.
2. One Who Violates the Words of the Sages- (based on Berachot 1:18)
Gemara: Whoever transgresses the words of the Sages is deserving of death. [Note- this is the standard terminology for one who, on a certain level, deserves death, but not only is he not condemnable in a human court but he may not receive Divinely ordained death because of mitigating circumstances or other factors that counterbalance the culpability.]
Ein Ayah: The main severity of one who transgresses the words of the Sages is that the Sages used their words to make a protection for the Torah so that the words of Torah will stand. Therefore, one who transgresses the words of the Sages is not violating a specific prohibition by that which he violates a specific directive. Rather by means of not having fear for the Sages’ words, he will have no protection, and he will transgress several basic Torah laws. See the words of the Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 418) who says that when reinforcement [with an exceptionally strict rule] of the words of the Sages applies, it is always considered a matter of taking a critical stand [where the Rabbis have greater authority than usual]. See there the logical explanation of the halachic elements.
In any case, transgressing the words of the Sages is a general sin. [The word Rav Kook uses here and often is klali, which can mean “general” or “all encompassing,” two words that are somewhat synonymous. We used both variations in this translation based on context, but the reader can try to consider for himself which is more appropriate in each specific case.] Now, there are specific punishments for specific transgressions, but the punishment of being deserving of death is an all encompassing punishment. For all the punishments have to do with life, as they reduce one’s pleasure in life or cause pain in life. However, death is a punishment that includes everything. Therefore, because he transgresses the words of the Sages, and in that way he perpetrates an all encompassing sin by causing a breach in the Torah in a general type of way, his punishment is an all encompassing one.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
Yitzchak Eizik Ben Yehuda Leib a"h,
whose Yahrtzeit is the
29th of Av
as well as
R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
Hemdat Yamim is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.