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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh 5781

Parashat Hashavua: The Seeds of Unification

Harav Yosef Carmel

Megillat Esther (2:5) calls Mordechai a “Judean man” and “son of Yair son of Shimi son of Kish, a Benjaminite.” The gemara (Megilla 12b) is bothered by the apparent contradiction; one of its answers is that while he was genealogically from Binyamin, the people of Yehuda would argue that they deserve the credit for him because, as a descendent of Shimi, had David Hamelech killed Shimi ben Geira, Mordechai would not have been born.

According to this opinion, Shimi was actually deserving of death. It was when David was fleeing from his son Avshalom during the latter’s rebellion that Shimi came forth to harshly curse and stone David, calling him a man of blood and a wayward man (Shmuel II, 16:5-7). Yet, David pardoned Shimi because after Avshalom’s rebellion failed, Shimi came forward as the “first of the House of Yosef (the more prominent son of Rachel, and Binyamin’s only full brother)” and apologized for his sin (ibid. 19:19-21).

If we look further at the language in Shmuel and in Esther, we can see other connections, between Esther (cousin of Mordechai) and her forebear Shimi ben Geira. In Shmuel, in the p’sukim on the return of Shimi, it refers to “that which is good in his eyes” (David, the king). This is parallel to Esther’s use of “if I am good in his eyes” in reference to King Achashverosh (Esther 8:5). Another overlapping use of language is that both Shimi and Esther were nofel (fell on their faces) before the king, as Haman was also nofel before Esther (ibid. 7:8).

Let us present the following thesis. The repentance of Shimi ben Geira, as a representative of the part of Israel that was least aligned with the king of Judean descent, helped unify the nation once again. His descendent hundreds of years later, who declared “Go gather together all of the Jews,” empowering her to go to Achashverosh and save the nation, tapped into the same power of unity. This is what connects the legacies of the heroes behind the two stories, as David of Yehuda recognized and acted on his understanding of the importance of unity.

Especially at times like this, when “preparing” for national elections, which historically include behavior among our prospective leaders which is anything but unifying, we must do our part and pray to Hashem. May He help us find leaders who will unite Am Yisrael around the foundations of our national life: the Torah of Israel in the Land of Israel, in a process of building a value-based society which lives based on the principles of charity and justice and serving as a light unto the nations. Then we can return to the days when the “The Jews had light and happiness, joy, and honor” (Esther 8:16).Let us pray that Hashem will grant us success as the sons of Avraham Avinu and as the soldiers of the always living King David. In order for our prayers to be accepted, we too should declare: Hineni. Maybe then we will merit to witness the Divine Presence return to its place by the aron.
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