Hebrew | Francais


> > Archive

Shabbat Parashat Beshalach 5780

Parashat Hashavua: On Nationalism and Sanctity part II

Harav Yosef Carmel

Last week we started discussing the two linked stories at the end of Shmuel – the improper census by David and the ensuing plague, as well as the obtaining of the silo of Aravna the Yevusi, which became the Temple Mount. We now continue that which will be a long series.

In both Shmuel (II, 24:1) and Divrei Hayamim (I, 21:1), the story of the census is introduced (in only slightly different language) with the idea that Hashem incited David to count Bnei Yisrael because of His anger. It is not clear why Hashem was angry and why David was incited from Above to do something wrong.

Chazal (Berachot 62b) explain that David was punished in coming to the mistake of an improper census because of what he said when he infiltrated “Shaul’s circle” and took Shaul’s sword and water flask (see Shmuel I, 26). David then addressed Shaul (from a distance) and tried to convince Shaul that he had no reason to distrust David. David suggested reasons that Shaul suspected him of rebelling. The second reason was that cursed people told him that David was out to rebel. The first possibility David raised, though, was actually that Hashem incited Shaul (ibid. 19).

The gemara (ibid.) inserts Hashem’s response into the conversation: “David, you called me an inciter?! I am going to cause you to make a damaging mistake that even schoolchildren know about.” That was that one can count only by each person giving a half-coin to receive atonement (see Shemot 30:13). That is what the pasuk means by saying that Hashem was angry and incited David. Thus, David’s insulting terminology when referring to Hashem during his appeal to Shaul caused the later sin.

It is difficult to see how this answers our basic question on the level of p’shat (simple reading). How can it be that because David was not careful in his speech, this would lead to the death of 70,000 Jews in a plague? It also does not seem to give insight into the connection between this story and the discovery of the place for the altar on what was Aravna’s silo. Therefore it is easier to view the midrash as one stressing the importance of careful speech rather than the source of the sin involved.

Mahari Kera cited a different midrash (P’sikta Rabbati 43:1), which points out that the end of the previous section of the navi lists Uriya HaChiti (Batsheva’s husband) as one of David’s choice warriors. According to this, the anger had to do with David’s sin with Uriya’s wife, Batsheva. The Ralbag suggests that it had to do with Shaul’s killing of the Givonim nation, which earlier brought drought and later joined with David’s new sin about the counting. Both of these explanations, though, do not explain the punishment to the nation because of the sin of their leader.

It is possible to give a general answer – that the nation does pay for the mistakes of its leader even according to divine rules of justice. However, we will try, in future pieces, to find fault in the nation, as well.

Specifically in these pre-election days, let us increase our prayers that we will merit worthy leaders, who will lead the nation to physical and spiritual achievements.

Top of page
Print this page
Send to friend


We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:


Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Refael Yitchak ben Chana

Netanel Ilan ben Sheina Tzipora

Netanel ben Sarah Zehava

Meira bat Esther

Yair Menachem ben Yehudit Chana

Rivka Reena bat Gruna Natna

Lillian bat Fortune

Yafa bat Rachel Yente

Eliezer Yosef ben Chana Liba

Ro'i Moshe Elchanan ben Gina Devra

Esther Michal bat Gitel

Yehudit Sarah bat Rachel


Together with all cholei Yisrael


Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

those who fell in wars

for our homeland


Eretz Hemdah's beloved friends

and Members of

Eretz Hemdah's Amutah


Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10 5771


Rav Reuven Aberman z"l

Tishrei 9   5776


Mr. Shmuel Shemesh  z"l
Sivan 17 5774


R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8   5776


Mrs. Sara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10      5774


Rav Asher Wasserteil z"l

Kislev 9  5769


R'  Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l


Mrs. Sara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 5780


R'  Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha


Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l


Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13 5778


Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23  5777


Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton)

Polin z"l

Tamuz 19    5778


R' Abraham Klein z"l

Iyar 18 5779


HaRav Professor

 Reuben M. Rudman


 Hemdat Yamim

is endowed by Les & Ethel Sutker
of Chicago, Illinois
in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l

site by entry.
Eretz Hemdah - Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, Jerusalem All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy. | Terms of Use.