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Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim Vayeilech 5783

Parashat Hashavua: The Various Meanings of Mereiim

Harav Yosef Carmel

In Tehillim 27 (L’David), which we recite throughout Elul and much of Tishrei, an elusive pasuk says (translated partially in the simplest way): “As merei’im approached (bikrov) me to eat my flesh, my oppressors and enemies were to me” (Tehillim 27:2).

Who were these merei’im, and why were they also oppressors and enemies? And what does this have to do with this time of the year? First, what does bikrov mean? Ibn Ezra explained that this is the term used for approaching battle. Ibn Ezra cites a related explanation that these people succeeded in coming close to David in battle. Radak says that it refers to the idea that David was close to death.

Let us give another suggestion. Krov refers to people who were close to him, either from his family or from his friends, and that it is these people who tried to harm him. In Tanach, we find people who were very close to David who did harsh things to him. His parents sent him away from the house and into the field to lead the flock, at a young age, and did not view him as a full member of the family. This is referred to elsewhere in the mizmor: “When my father and my mother left me” (we will discuss this at length in the soon-to-be published Tzofnat Shmuel). David was somewhat adopted by an alternate father figure, his father-in-law, Shaul. And this new “father” tried to kill him multiple times. Also, the people of his tribe, from Keila and the Zipim betrayed him. His very close friend, Achitofel, turned into a pursuer (see Shmuel II 17:1-4). Even his wife Michal, who at one point loved him very much (see Shmuel I, 18:20 and ibid. 28) reached a point of unresolvable enmity.

Now let us go back to the word merei’im. In the fifteen times in Tanach the word is found, it always refers to a particularly acute evil, including those who befriended and betrayed Shimshon. The word also appears in the rebuke of Yeshayahu (Yeshayahu 1:4; 14:20) and in the harsh prophecies of Yirmiyahu (Yirmiyahu 23:14), along with other places. Chazal say explicitly: “Merei’im always refer to the evil” (Avot D’Rabbi Natan I:21).

The root of merei’im is reish ayin ayin, which is like the words rei’ah (friend) ra (evil). The worst form of evil is when an apparent friend betrays the friendship and is actually evil toward his would-be friend. The pasuk describes how these people come to eat the flesh of their friend and turn into oppressors and enemies.

In contrast, the similar word ro’eh (shepherd) is a true friend of his flock. He acts with sensitivity and gentleness with the young sheep. Moshe and David are both leaders who proved their qualities in dealing with the sheep, as midrashim point out about each of them (see Shemot Rabba 2:2).

Many people claim to be fit to be proper leaders for our country, but they should also have to pass a test of true loyalty. We wish our readers, that in addition to all the other ways they should have a wonderful year, we should also enjoy leadership that toils to bring peace from within and without. May we never have to face friends who turn into enemies.

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Dedication

We daven for a complete and speedy refuah for:

Nir Rephael ben Rachel Bracha
Ori Leah bat Chaya Temima

Arye Yitzchak ben Geula Miriam

Neta bat Malka

Meira bat Esther
Yerachmiel ben Zlotta Rivka

Together with all cholei Yisrael


Hemdat Yamim is dedicated

to the memory of:

Those who fell in wars

for our homeland

 

Prof. Yisrael Aharoni z"l

Kislev 14, 5783

 

Rav Shlomo Merzel z”l
Iyar 10, 5771


Rav
 Reuven & Chaya Leah Aberman z"l
Tishrei 9
 ,5776 / Tishrei 20, 5782

 

Mr. Shmuel & Esther Shemesh z"l

Sivan 17 / Av 20

 

Mr. Moshe Wasserzug z"l

Tishrei 20 ,5781

 

R' Eliyahu Carmel z"l

Rav Carmel's father

Iyar 8 ,5776

 

MrsSara Wengrowsky

bat R’ Moshe Zev a”h.

Tamuz 10 ,5774

 

Rav Asher & Susan Wasserteil z"l
Kislev 9 / Elul 5780

 

R' Meir ben

Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld z"l

&

MrsSara Brachfeld z"l

Tevet 16 ,5780

 

R 'Yaakov ben Abraham & Aisha

and

Chana bat Yaish & Simcha

Sebbag, z"l

 

Rav Yisrael Rozen z"l
Cheshvan 13, 5778

 

Rav Benzion Grossman z"l
Tamuz 23, 5777

 

R' Abraham & Gita Klein z"l

Iyar 18,  /5779Av 4

 

Rav Moshe Zvi (Milton) Polin z"l
Tammuz 19, 5778

 

R' Yitzchak Zev Tarshansky z"l

Adar 28, 5781

 

Nina Moinester z"l

Nechama Osna bat

Yitzhak Aharon & Doba

Av 30, 5781

 

Rabbi Dr. Jerry Hochbaum z"l

Adar II 17, 5782

 

Mrs. Julia Koschitzky z"l

Adar II 18, 5782

 

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Nisan 27, 5782

 

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Tevet 16 5783/ Iyar 8, 5781

 

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