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Shabbat Parashat Vayeitzei 5778

Ein Ayah: Misusing the Negative

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 5:69)

Gemara: Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: When David said to Mefiboshet, “You and Tziva [who spoke false lashon hara about Mefiboshet, alleging lack of loyalty to David] will divide the field,” a heavenly voice emerged, saying: “Rechavam and Yeravam will divide the kingdom.”  


Ein Ayah: The general preparations for leadership have to include all of the human powers, even those that are very bad and difficult. The leadership will be successful only when the dangerous powers are used in a manner that is for the good. If the person develops a tendency toward being impacted too much by the negative power, then the leadership will not develop correctly. By necessity, the broad gamut of powers will include those that have elements of weakness and damage, which can interfere with many important areas of physical and spiritual life. 

If and when this occurs, there becomes a need to divide the apparatus. In that way, each section of the nation will develop with a unique style that prevents a certain power from being an obstacle for that section’s vulnerability, as seen through past problems.

It was necessary for powers that are connected to evil for the individual to be present in the great and broad spirit of the offspring of Yishai, which is the source of the Davidic dynasty. When all was well, it was not necessary for there to be a division – as long as those powers did not exceed their proper boundaries. However, once it went even one step beyond the point of safety, the general spirit of the national leadership was already susceptible to spiritual disease by means of which certain powers had negative effects on certain groups. In fact, many necessary powers are generally what Chazal call “a life-giving drug for those who ‘go to the right’ and a deadly poison for those who ‘go to the left.’”

There are two sides to the internal and external national leadership. There is a side of sanctity, which is related to Bnei Yisrael’s status as Hashem’s kingdom and a kingdom of kohanim, whose foundation is rooted in the Davidic kingdom. There is also a more general universal element of leadership with developed political considerations, as applies to all nations. At a time of completeness, both elements stem from one source and are closely connected, and there is neither contradiction nor danger from the interaction of the two elements. This is because the kingdom of the House of David was so broad and complete that even the most negative power could be used for a good purpose and with godly sanctity that can elevate everything.

Such a basic negative power is accepting lashon hara. However, once accepting lashon hara was abused [by punishing Mefiboshet without his being guilty of anything] by even a small degree beyond the proper limits, the contradictory part of negative powers surfaced. This was a major problem for a kingdom that was supposed to combine both the sacred and the mundane, with each one having many forms and styles. The differences between the two continued to be more and more at odds with each other. Finally, there was a need to fix matters for the sake of the future, and Hashem decided to make the painful split between the different parts of the kingdom. The tension that led to this began already from the time that David decided to accept Tziva’s slanderous description of Mefiboshet’s behavior. As a result, the divine voice announced the future splitting of the kingdom of Israel.

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