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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra 5778

Parashat Hashavua: The Ability to Give Up part I

Harav Yosef Carmel

The new sefer begins: “He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying” (Vayikra 1:1). This opening to Vayikra, which Chazal called, The Torah of the Kohanim, highlights once again the greatness of the spirit of Aharon HaKohen, Moshe’s older brother. One would think that since the main topic of the sefer is the commandments relating to the Mishkan and the service performed in it, about which Aharon was in charge, that the matter would be addressed to Aharon. However, it was actually told to Moshe! Yet, we find no hint in the Torah that Aharon had any jealousy toward his younger brother due to the latter’s greater prominence. To the contrary, when Aharon found out that he would be accompanying Moshe in a junior role, Hashem reports: “He will go out to greet you, will see you, and will be happy in his heart” (Shemot 4:14).

Unfortunately, we have seen examples of quite the opposite. We will now analyze one of the lesser known examples. David’s son Amnon’s rape of his half-sister Tamar was one of the worst events that happened in David’s household. Amnon was the firstborn of David’s first wife and thus was the heir apparent. The one who helped Amnon plan the crime and pushed him to commit it was Amnon’s cousin, Yonadav, the son of David’s brother, Shama.

The navi refers to Yonadav as a “very smart man” (Shmuel II, 13:3). Chazal inform us, though, that the following pasuk applies to him: “Do not befriend a wicked person.” While he was very smart, he was smart for wickedness. Given that, he would have been better off to be a simple person (Avot D’Rabbi Natan 2:16). Rashi, the Radak, and the Ralbag expand on this idea of Yonadav using his wisdom to create the most destructive ideas.

What caused Yonadav to act in this way? Here is a suggestion – it was connected to the resentment of his father. Shama was the youngest of Yishai’s “three older sons.” When Yishai presented his sons, one by one, as candidates to be king, three were mentioned by name (Shmuel I, 16:3-10). In the listing of Yishai’s sons in Divrei Hayamim (I, 2:13), Shama is once again the last one mentioned by name.

Shama and his two older brothers, Eliav, and Avinadav, were those who represented the family in fighting the Plishtim at the time of Goliat. When David came to visit them and expressed his being disturbed by the soldiers’ unwillingness to accept the challenge of Goliat, who was cursing the G-d of Israel, Eliav reacted with offense and spurned David (Shmuel I, 17:12-29). It is very likely that Eliav’s displeasure with David’s strong stance was a reaction to the disgrace that occurred in their father’s house, when Shmuel passed over them and anointed David as the future king. How could it be, they felt, that those who fight in the army of Shaul and for the honor of Hashem will be overshadowed by their little brother, whose job was to tend to the sheep? This was the difference between Aharon and them. They were not willing to see their little brother surpass them in prominence.

We will continue to develop this point next week.
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