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Shabbat Parashat Toldot 5778

Ein Ayah: Lashon Hara and the Davidic Dynasty

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 5:66)

Gemara: Rav said: David accepted lashon hara. [The gemara then surveys the p’sukim about David originally seeking out Yonatan’s son Mefiboshet with the help of Shaul’s servant Tziva and drawing him close. Later, David believed Tziva when he claimed that during Avshalom’s revolt, Mefiboshet was awaiting David’s overthrow. As a result, David gave half of Mefiboshet’s property to Tziva.]


Ein Ayah: In addition to the obvious destructive elements of lashon hara, when it causes separation between brethren or when an innocent person is subjugated by it, it impacts the spirit and causes hatred within society. People get used to seeing a situation and viewing it according to the most negative possibilities. They thus see the world as a much more negative place than it is. 

When the king develops such an outlook, it can take away from his ability to act with kindness and with appropriate justice, which are among the important tasks of a king. After all, he is supposed to imitate Hashem, Who is dedicated to love and kindness.

It is not surprising that at the time of great pressure, when David was fleeing from his own son, his outlook of love and trust turned somewhat toward suspicion and enmity. This was part of the punishment coming to David. In the beginning of David’s interactions with Mefiboshet, when Tziva tried to dampen David’s goodwill, it is not by chance that Tziva said that Mefiboshet was in Lo Davar (can be translated – there was a matter of interest to him). This was to hint that Mefiboshet was there for the purpose of involvement in politics. Since there was at least logic to consider the dangers, David decided to take him away from Lo Davar. When it was afterward decided to allow Mefiboshet to eat at David’s table like one of his sons, it shows that he must have proven himself fully beyond suspicion. Therefore, the gemara is surprised by the fact that, years later, David accepted Tziva’s false report of Mefiboshet’s lack of faithfulness.

We must look at the development of the positive characteristics of David’s kingdom, which turned him into the great singer of pleasant songs and the lofty sacred spirit. It was actually necessary for the completeness of the kingdom that all the powers of the human spirit be present in the great “storehouse” that was the spirit of the king. Even negative powers must be included. Accepting lashon hara is the root of all bad powers. This is the readiness to be negatively impacted by a negative comment by an evil person and the tendency to look at the world with an eye that notices that which is bad in the world. This attribute is destructive until it is refined, when it can be purified and sweetened so that it can be used properly by those in command.

The Davidic dynasty is broad and inclusive to the extent that, as creation must contain every tendency for negativity as well as for positive, so must these be present in David. Only after everything settles into place, will the goodness be stably in control. Then, the discerning eye will notice that bitter outlooks are turned into good ones, and they will see that which is good in the world and the light of love and kindness in the loftiest manner. It is like the moon, which has its limitations expanded and fills in its crevices (see Tehillim 89:38). It is appropriate that at the time that we mention the attributes of the moon (in Kiddush Levana) we also say, “David, King of Israel, lives and is intact.”   

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