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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5782

Parashat Hashavua: What Are David and Shaul Doing in Sefer Bereshit part I

Harav Yosef Carmel

Chazal were troubled with the contrast between two great but flawed men – King Shaul and King David. Why did the former lose his kingdom due to his sins, while the latter was forgiven and promised an eternal dynasty?

There appears to be insight into this question in the story of creation, of all places. This is hinted at by the fact that both Shaul and David were called adam. Let’s take a closer look at the significance of this phenomenon. David said to Shaul that the heart of an adam (a person, but here referring to King Shaul) should not be depressed due to Goliath (Shmuel I, 17:32). Avigail referred to an adam who was pursuing David. There is an indirect connection between the world of Shaul and an adam of note as well. The people who were unable to bring the Korban Pesach were those referred to as impure because “of the soul of an adam” (Bamidbar 9:6-7). Rabbi Yossi Hagelili said that these were the people who were carrying the remains of Yosef (Sukka 25a). Yosef represented the part of Bnei Yisrael that comes from Rachel Imeinu, and Shaul, from the tribe of Yosef’s only full brother and second son of Rachel, Binyamin, certainly saw in Yosef a special spiritual guide and inspiration. 

David is called adam in Shmuel II, 7:19. He is famously called ha’adam hama’alah (approximately translated as, the person of a high standing) (Divrei Hayamim I, 17:17). The third place adam is mentioned in regard to David is in the “last words of David” (Shmuel II, 23:3).

The famous midrash (Yalkut Shimoni Bereishit 41) about the intertwined lives of Adam and David provides a wonderful explanation of the connection between David and adam. Adam was disturbed by what he saw prophetically, that there was a special soul who would have only a fleeting moment to live. In order to allow David to accomplish what he could in the world, Adam was given and accepted the opportunity to gift David 70 years of life. Kedushat Levi on the haftara of Vayechi develops this idea, as I do in my upcoming book, Tzofnat Shmuel.

Next week we continue to develop this theme of David and Shaul in Sefer Bereishit. 
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