Dovid HaMelech and the Moon

The Haftorah of this week’s Shabbos is מחר חודש. Since tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh, so we read the Haftorah of מחר חודש. The Gemara in Megilah 31a says the following:

ראש חדש שחל להיות בשבת מפטירין והיה מדי חדש בחדשו. חל להיות באחד בשבת, מאתמול מפטירין ויאמר לו יהונתן מחר חדש

This Gemara is brought down in the Rambam Hilchos Tefilah 13:4 and in Shulchan Aruch Siman 425. The fact that we read a special Haftorah on Shabbos when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Sunday is tremendous Chiddush because usually, when there is a special Haftorah for the ד' פרשיות, Rosh Chodesh, and Chanukah, the Maftir is מענין that day or Parshah. Meaning, the last reading from the Torah either has to do with Chanukah or Rosh Chodesh, or it’s a special Kriah of the ד' פרשיות and then the Haftorah read is always מענין the last topic read in the Torah. However, the Haftorah of מחר חודש has nothing to do מענין the day nor does it have to do with the last topic read in the Torah, the maftir. The only thing that is similar to this is the תלתא דפרנעותא that are read the three weeks before Tisha Baav and the שבע דנחמתא which are read the seven weeks after Tisha Baav where the Haftorah is not connected to the last thing read in the Torah. Although the reading of these Haftorahs doesn’t appear in the Gemara, Tosfos in Megilah 31b says the source is from the Pesikta.

In the Sefer Orchos Chaim written by ר' אהרן מלוניל, he writes in Hilchos Krias HaTorah Siman 60 the following:

ור"ח שחל להיות באחד בשבת מפטיר בשמואל מחר חדש והטעם כמו הזכרת ר"ח. ויש חולקין בזה המנהג שלעולם אין מפטירין אלא במאי דסליק מיניה או מעניינא דיומא וזאת אינה מאחת מהנה ולכך לא נהגו להפטיר מחר חדש אלא בהיות ר"ח בשבת וא' בשבת ואז היא מענינא דיומא ומזכירין ג"כ שלמחר יהיה ר"ח כמו היום וכן נהגו גדולי צרפת.

He bring an opinion that says when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Sunday, we don’t read the Haftorah of מחר חדש because it has nothing to do with עניינא דיומא or the last reading in the Torah. However, if Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbos and Sunday, then we do read the Haftorah of מחר חדש because it is מענינא דיומא and then we can also mention that tomorrow will be Rosh Chodesh like today.
The Orchos Chaim is seemingly directly against the Gemara mentioned above because the Gemara clearly says that when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Sunday, one should read מחר חדש on Shabbos. So it must be that these Rishonim, quoted by the Orchos Chaim, learned the Gemara that says שחל להיות באחד בשבת ראש חדש means when Rosh Chodesh also falls out on אחד בשבת meaning on Shabbos and also on Sunday. But we who read the Haftorah of מחר חדש even when Rosh Chodesh only falls out on Sunday learn the Gemara כפשוטו.

Therefore, it is noteworthy that even though there is no significance to the day before Rosh Chodesh and the last reading in the Torah is nothing to do with Rosh Chodesh, nevertheless we read the special Haftorah of מחר חדוש. As opposed to when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbos where we read the Haftorah of והיה מדי חדש בחדשו which is connected to the Maftir where we read about Rosh Chodesh.

The simple connection between the Haftorah of מחר חודש and this day is that this conversation between Dovid and Yehonason took place on Erev Rosh Chodesh as the Pasuk says ויאמר לו יהונתן מחר חדש ונפקדת כי יפקד מושבך. However, it would seem that the content of this story with Dovid Hamelech is really related to Rosh Chodesh as we see the Minhag is to say דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים in Kiddush Levana. The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah 25a records a story where Rebbi told Reb Chiyah to go to עין טב to be Mekadesh the Chodesh and the סימן he sent back to show that he was Mekadesh the Chodesh was דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים. Rashi explains דוד מלך ישראל - נמשל כלבנה, שנאמר בו (תהלים פט) כסאו כשמש נגדי כירח יכון עולם. Although the Rama doesn’t quote this Gemara as the source, nevertheless he writes in Siman 426:2 ונוהגין לומר דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים שמלכותו נמשל ללבנה ועתיד להתחדש כמותה.

The source of the Rama is from Rabbeinu Bchayeh in Parshas Vayeshev. He explains that the cycle of the moon is similar to the life of Dovid HaMelech and the history of the Jewish people. The moon grows to a fullest over a period of fifteen days and then declines over the next fifteen days until it disappears. However, the moon then reappears anew at the beginning of the new month. This is a phenomenon unique to the moon as opposed to the sun which is fixed and its appearance doesn’t change. This experience is comparable to the life of Dovid Hamelech whose life was filled with regressions and progressions, and ups and downs. The first fifteen days of the month correspond to the fifteen generations from Avraham Avinu to Shlomo Hamelech which was during a time of great spiritual growth. The next fifteen days of the moons decline in appearance correspond to the next fifteen generations where מלכות בית דוד came to an end. But just like the moon reappears anew every month after appearing to be completely diminished, so to their will be a time where the מלכות בית דוד will be reinstated.

In the story discussed in this Haftorah, which is an important step in allowing Dovid to eventually become the king, the Pasuk says ונפקדת כי יפקד מושבך. This is a play on words because ונפקדת means “and you will be remembered” because Shaul is going to ask about him, כי יפקד מושבך “when you will be absent from your place.” Meaning, his appearance will be through his absence. This is what occurs every Erev Rosh Chodesh going into Rosh Chodesh. The moons disappears and then there is a rebirth on Rosh Chodesh when it reappears. And that is the story of Dovid HaMelech and his Malchus that it goes in cycles where first it’s present and then it becomes absent and will eventually become present again. By reading this Haftorah, we emphasize our belief that even when we don’t see at all and it’s considered non-existent, we know that it’s there and it will come back, be revealed, and have a rebirth. We reaffirm our belief דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים that the Malchus Beis Dovid even when it appears non-existent- כי יפקד מושבך, it will be ונפקדת-remembered and revealed one day. This is the meaning of what is said in Kiddush Levana עטרת תפארת לעמוסי בטן שהם עתידים להתחדש כמותה that it’s about rebirth and renewal of the Jewish people.

Serving Hashem Wherever

The Psukim in the Haftorah for מחר חדש say as follows (שמואל א, כ:כ-כב) :

ואני שלשת החצים צדה אורה לשלח לי למטרה

והנה אשלח את הנער לך מצא את החצים אם אמר אמר לנער הנה החצים ממך והנה קחנו ובאה כי שלום לך ואין דבר חי ה'

ואם כה אמר לעלם הנה החצים ממך והלאה לך כי שלחך ה'

Reb Eliyahu Meir Bloch and Reb Mottel Katz came to America escaping Europe in 1941 and they called for a meeting with Balei Batim to discuss reestablishing the Telz Yeshiva in Cleveland. At that meeting, Reb Eliyahu Meir Bloch quoted the above Pasuk לך כי שלחך ה', and asked that the Pasuk should say ברח that he should escape because he is in danger. Yet the Pasuk says לך כי שלחך ה – “Go, because Hashem has sent you” because a Jew has to know that even when he is escaping danger, he is on a mission and the danger was only to put him in a place where he could fulfil his mission and therefore he felt that they were not just escapees rather they were on a mission and therefore it was there mission to reestablish the Yeshiva in America.

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe escaped Warsaw in the beginning of 1940 after the Nazi occupation and he spent Pesach one month later in Lakewood. On the Pasuk in Hallel אנה ה' כי אני עבדך, the word אנה has the meaning of “please”, but it’s usually spelled אנא and here it’s spelled אנה which really means “where.” The Meforshim struggle with this. So the Rebbe explained this אנה as where that אנה ה' כי אני עבדך is a statement that wherever I may be, whatever situation I may find myself in, אני עבדך, I am your servant and I am ready to serve you.

Similarly, In Shema, we are commanded to serve Hashem “בכל לבבך”, with all of our heart. רש״י, in his second explanation, tells us that we are being told “שלא יהיה לבך חלוק על המקום ”. In the Sefer Beis Aharon written Rav Ahron Karliner the second, he brings in the name of Rav Shlomo Karliner that what רש״י is revealing is that Hashem does not want us to hide under a rock and shut out the difficulties of our current situations. We are not to turn away from the realities of our present existence. On the contrary, we are meant to grow from our struggles.

בן נעות המרדות

In the above mentioned Haftorah, Shaul says to Yonason ויחר אף שאול ביהונתן ויאמר לו בן נעות המרדות הלוא ידעתי כי בחר אתה לבן ישי לבשתך ולבשת ערות אמך (שמואל א, כ:ל)

Rashi explains the meaning of נעות to mean לשון נע אשה נעה ונדה יוצאני'. Rashi on the word מרדות says כשחטפו בני בנימן מבנות שילה שיצאו לחול בכרמים היה שאול ביישן ולא רצה לחטוף עד שבאתה היא עצמה והעיזה פניה ורדפ' אחריו. Shaul was shy and his wife sought him out and went out to him. So by calling Yonason בן נעות המרדות, he was saying that your mother acted improperly being that she sought him out.

The question is why is Shaul saying this to Yonason as if to say that it’s his fault? Furthermore, why does the Pasuk say ולבשת ערות אמך, meaning why is it an embarrassment to his mother because he was בוחר בן ישי?

The Gemara in Yevamos 77a has a discussion regarding if Dovid Hamelech was fit to be king. The Gemara interjects and says before you can discuss being fit for king, you have to ask if he was ראוי לבא לקהל because he is a descendent of רות המואביה. To which the Gemara brings an explanation why the prohibition of marrying from Moav and Amon only applies to the men and not the woman is because על דבר אשר לא קדמו אתכם בלחם ובמים - דרכו של איש לקדם וכו. Since it’s not the way of women to go out, therefore it wasn’t a טענה on them.

So Shaul was saying to his son Yonason that if you weren’t בוחר בן ישי, then it’s as if to say that there isn’t anything wrong with women going out and it is דרכה של אישה לקדם and there was no issue with his mother seeking out Shaul and she wouldn’t be a נעות. But now that he was בוחר בן ישי saying that a descendent of a מואבית is כשר, so you (Yonason) are suggesting that it’s not the דרך for an אשה לקדם and that’s why there was no טענה on women from Moav, which was turning his mother into a נעות because now it was inappropriate that which Shauls wife went after him and therefore by being בוחר בן ישי he is ולבשת ערות אמך that it’s now embarrassing to his mother.

Meaning of Kedusha

The Parshah begins דבר אל כל עדת בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני ה' אלהיכם. The Medrash Rabbah says קדושים תהיו יכול כמוני ת"ל כי קדוש אני קדושתי למעלה מקדושתכם. Reb Shimon Shkop in his Hakdama to the Sefer Sharei Yosher has a beautiful explanation for this Medrash which focuses on a person’s purpose in this world which is included in the Mitzvah of קדושים תהיו.

He writes that קדושה is really a לשון of total dedication, a single minded focus on the mission and dedication to purpose. In order for us to be in that state, we must be פורש from all הנאות which interferer with our ability to be fully focused on our mission. This is what is necessary to be קדוש. But קדושה is להקדיש which means to dedicate and it can’t just פורש because then when Hashem says קדושתי למעלה מקדושתכם, it doesn’t make any sense because Hashem isn’t more פרוש. Rather it means that whatever Hashem does, he is fully dedicated and committed to the purpose. So קדושים תהיו יכול כמוני is that we would’ve thought that we are expected to be like Hashem and rid ourselves of any self-interest. So ת"ל כי קדוש אני קדושתי למעלה מקדושתכם and that expectation is not really expected of us and human nature will rebel against it. But what we are expected to do is work on expanding who I identify as myself. An immature child only sees himself and doesn’t even see his playmate as somebody to share with. But when he matures, he understands that it’s not just I rather it’s “us” and he continues to expand and grow his sense of self to include his wife and children and his family.

It would be very worthwhile for people to learn this Hakdamah בעיון because it’s a very important and fundamental idea.

Reaching Kedusha

The Ramchal in the end of the Mesilas Yesharim, Chapter 26, discusses the מידת הקדושה and he writes the following:

ענין הקדושה כפול הוא, דהיינו: תחלתו עבודה וסופו גמול, תחלתו השתדלות וסופו מתנה. והיינו: שתחלתו הוא מה שהאדם מקדש עצמו, וסופו מה שמקדשים אותו

There are two levels of Kedusha. One of them is attainable through one’s efforts and the higher level is given to a person like a מתנה. This understanding of Kedusha can be used to explain a question in the very first line of the Mesilas Yesharim. The Ramchal begins:

יסוד החסידות ושרש העבודה התמימה הוא שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו בעולמו ולמה צריך שישים מבטו ומגמתו בכל אשר הוא עמל כל ימי חייו

The Ramchal first writes מה חובתו בעולמו that a person must clarify and know what his obligation is in his world and then continues ולמה צריך שישים מבטו ומגמתו בכל אשר הוא עמל כל ימי חייו. The obvious question is that we would expect למה צריך שישים מבטו ומגמתו is to fulfil מה חובתו בעולמו and that they are identical to each other.

However, the fact that the Ramchal writes one thing a person must do is שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו בעולמו and another thing is ולמה צריך שישים מבטו ומגמתו, it indicates that there are two things a person should focus on in his life. One is considered his חובתו בעולמו, which is an obligation that can be fulfilled through his actions, and the other ולמה צריך שישים מבטו ומגמתו בכל אשר הוא עמל כל ימי חייו is something a person should have a goal for but doesn’t come through his effort. These two things being emphasized in the first line of the Mesilas Yesharim can be referring to the two levels of Kedusha mentioned above. The first level of Kedusha which is תחלתו עבודה and תחלתו השתדלות is his חובתו בעולמו. The second level of Kedusha which is a מתנה and גמול is ולמה צריך שישים מבטו ומגמתו בכל אשר הוא עמל כל ימי חייו that it should be his goal and destination his whole life but it’s not his חובתו בעולמו. After Kedusha is רוח הקודש and תחיית המתים which are obviously levels that are not part of חובתו בעולמו because a person is not obliged to have רוח הקודש and perform תחיית המתים. But nevertheless a person should be looking forward to that realizing that his journey is a ladder that reaches all the way up there.


ואהבת לרעך כמוך

In Parshas Kedoshim the Pasuk says ואהבת לרעך כמוך. Rashi says אמר רבי עקיבא זה כלל גדול בתורה. This statement of Reb Akiva seemingly contradicts his ruling in the case of שנים שהיו מהלכין בדרך ואין בידם אלא קיתון אחד של מים that one person should drink the water and let the other die because of the rule חייך קודם. The one who disagrees with Reb Akiva is בן פטורא who holds that it’s better for both to drink the water and both die.

In the Toras Kohanim on the Pasuk ואהבת לרעך כמוך, Reb Akiva says זה כלל גדול בתורה and בן עזאי quotes the Pasuk in Breishis זה ספר תולדות האדם saying זה כלל גדול מזה. What is the meaning behind this Machlokes?

The Malbim explains this Machlokes and connects it with the Machlokes above between Reb Akiva and בן פטורא. He explains that according to Reb Akiva, ואהבת לרעך כמוך is לטובת בני אדם ויישוב העולם and it is the foundational Mitzvah of all מצוות בין אדם לחבירו and therefore it is ככל גדול בתורה. But according the בן עזאי, the Pasuk זה ספר תולדות האדם is a greater כלל because it teaches the idea שכל בני אדם קשורים כגוף אחד וכולם נבראו בצלם אלקים להשלים הצלם ודמות העליון שכולל כל הנפשות וכו'.

The Malbim continues that this Reb Akiva that ואהבת לרעך כמוך is זה כלל גדול בתורהis לשיטתו with what he rules in the case of קיתון של מים and בן פטורא is like בן עזאי. Regarding בין אדם לחבירו ותיקון יישוב העולם it comes out that חייך קודמין. However, regarding השלמת הצלם והדמות העליון, every person is considered like one and therefore no individual’s life takes precedence over another.

The Chassam Sofer asks that if according to Reb Akiva חייך קודמין לחיי חבירך, how could one fulfil the Mitzvah of ואהבת לרעך כמוך? He answers that which we say חייך קודמין לחיי חבירך is only in עניני עולם הזה, in material things. But when it comes to חיי נצח, which is לימוד התורה, we say ואהבת לרעך כמוך and one is therefore obligated to teach others even at the expense of his own learning and growth. This is what Reb Akiva was stressing when he said זה כלל גדול בתורה meaning in תורה specifically one is commanded ואהבת לרעך כמוך.

The above Chassam Sofer is connected to what he writes in the beginning Parshas Kedoshim. The Parsha begins דבר אל כל עדת בני ישראל ואמרת אלהם קדשים תהיו and Rashi says מלמד שנאמרה פרשה זו בהקהל מפני שרוב גופי תורה תלויין בה. He explains this with what the Chovos Halevavos writes about פרישות ובדידות that Hashem doesn’t want a person to isolate himself from people and society in order to ponder to himself the מעשי ה' because לא תהו בראה לשבת יצרה and really the רצון ה' is for a person to be אוהב את הבריות ולחבר עמהם to teach them Torah even to the point where it will prevent him from being משלים himself. Nevertheless, it is Hashems will to be אוהב הבריות because through that he can be מקרבן לתורה.

He concludes this is the idea of this Parsha being said at הקהל because קדושים תהיו, that one should be פרוש is a mental state and not physically. The idea of קדושים תהיו which is all about פרישות being said in a state of הקהל is to show that a person could be פרוש but מעורב עם בני אדם.