Yitzie Milworn - David Hamelech
To be a jew is not a simple thing. this is how it is and how it always has been. the stories that form the tapestry of our lives and the life of our nation can reflect this as clearly as a mirror. and just like a mirror can make no choice as to what parts of an image it reflects so to the stories found in Nach do not hesitate to bring to light the most complex and at times the most embarrassing aspects of Jewish life and Jewish history. in even the smallest number of words, the Nach will succeed in bringing to light the things that make our ancestors who they were. Even eight simple pasukim at the end of a perek reveal to us volumes on the character of one of our greatest leaders, David Hamelech, and the complexity of ruler ship in the Jewish nation.
To expound on our rather specific excerpt we must join the story of David Hamelech bringing the ark to Jerusalem with the accompaniment of the entirety of the Jewish nation. (יד) ודוד מכרכר בכל עז לפני יקוק ודוד חגור אפוד בד (טו) ודוד וכל בית ישראל מעלים את ארון יקוק בתרועה ובקול שופר: A king dressed in his finest royal vestments leading his people in the celebration of the arrival of there most holy connection to god to the most holy city of god. What a spectacle to behold! one might think this the greatest testimony to the Jewish monarchy possible, the king amongst his fellow countrymen all seen as jews in the eye of god, all expressing their joy over the glorification of God's name. the loftiness of the kingship put into perspective by the unity of life as a jew. However there is one in the nation who does not look upon this spectacle with favor and that is the Davids wife Michal as the passuk says ומיכל בת שאול נשקפה בעד החלון ותרא את המלך דוד מפזז ומכרכר לפני יקוק ותבז לו בלבה...: she is so distraught by the sight she beholds that she actually harbors resentment for Dovid.
At this current junction, we can begin to ask certain questions to ourselves, such as who was right, Michal or Dovid? what were Michals's motivations to look upon Davids's actions with disfavor, while it seems obvious that David's intentions are quite clear? to put it simply she did not seem it befitting to for the king of Israel to be seen dancing around the streets within the streets like some light-headed commoner. But to take this a step further you must look at something quite obvious, Michal was the daughter of the former and first king of Benei Yisroel. she had seen growing up the way here father Shaul had conducted himself and to her what Dovid was doing was in no way aligned with her preconceived notion of the manners of a monarch. As for who was right and who was wrong we will address that in due time.
We rejoin the story once more three passukim later after the Aharon has reached its destination. (כ) וישב דוד לברך את ביתו ותצא מיכל בת שאול לקראת דוד ותאמר מה נכבד היום מלך ישראל אשר נגלה היום לעיני אמהות עבדיו כהגלות נגלות אחד הרקים: an open insult to the honor of the king in front of his own household and by his own wife no the less, treasonous! scandalous! so one must ask themselves how could such a thing happen and what exactly was this? once more we must look towards Michals roots to ascertain where it was she mustered the resolve to insult the king. she is obviously still uneasy with the thrown having been removed from her father's house and being placed into Davids's house. this would seem to be supported by Davids's response to her acquisitions.
(כא) ויאמר דוד אל מיכל לפני יקוק אשר בחר בי מאביך ומכל ביתו לצות אתי נגיד על עם יקוק על ישראל ושחקתי לפני יקוק Dovid makes the effort to specifically remind her that no matter what it is she might think of his actions as a king he is the one who has been chosen by God himself to replace her father as the ruler of Am Yisroel. in addition to this David makes it quite clear that he will continue to dance before god if it is what he so chooses, meaning that he is asserting that he in this scenario right to have done what he did, but this will be more important to us later on.
Our story and perek vav end here with David asserting his ability to lower his own stature in his eyes but in the eyes of the nation no he and his kingship will still be honored (כב) ונקלתי עוד מזאת והייתי שפל בעיני ועם האמהות אשר אמרת עמם אכבדה:
we conclude with the information that Michal bat Shaul will mother no more children in her lifetime. and now we are left to ask ourselves the questions that seem to be following us throughout this entire encounter. Was Michal wrong to think of David this way? was she wrong in doing what she did and when she chose to do it?
To answer our questions let us look first to perek bet Mishnah bet of mesechet Sanhedrin "...המלך לא דן ולא דנין אותו". lichorah the Mishnah seems to support David Hamelech. he and his rule are outside the grasp of the common man to cast judgment upon. The Rambam writes in hilckot Sanhedrin perek bet Halachah Hay writes that a king from the house of David can judge and can be judged, as opposed to a king from Beit Yisroel who are not willing to accept any judgment that will cause harm or reflect badly upon them. the Kesef Mishnah provides us with the source for this stemming from the Gemara in Sanhedrin daf yud'tet. the Rambam expounds elsewhere in hilckot Malachem perek gimmel halacha zayin that these Malache Yisroel will become haughty due to the attack on their character and will lead to a lapse of judgment. in addition, the Rambam in his peyrush on the Mishnah explains that those from Malchut Beit David understand the truth and are it is not hard for them to accept the din laid out by a judge. taking into account the ability of Beit David to accept reprimanding and the inability of Malchut Beit Yisroel to do so it is quite obvious as to why the halacha is that one may in fact pass judgment on a king of Malchut Beit David and not on a king from Malchoot beit Yisroel. and so one is still left to wonder was Michal wrong in doing what she did?
so, if passing judgment on David was not wrong then why does David respond to her as if what she said should not have been said? Davids's reflection has nothing to do with the validity of Michael's statements, it has everything to do with who Michal was. again she was the daughter of the previous king. as we have already mentioned the inability of kings outside the house of David to accept criticism it would be easy to assume that these kings would be far more worried about the casting of judgment on their actions and this is exactly what Michal thought. how could a king make himself so valuable by dancing through the streets? this was the thought process of a person not indigenous to the house of David. but that is no crime so what was motivated David to reprimand Michal. David is finally ruling from Jerusalem, he has finally brought the Aharon to Jerusalem, he is in the midst of a monumental moment for his kingship and he does not wish to have someone who can understand the character of this new kingship getting in the way of him continuing to firmly establish his style of leadership. this is only increased by the fact that this insult is coming from his own wife who he performed no small task to acquire.
David has just been dancing through the streets of his capital, bringing sacrifices to Hashem as he goes, feasting with the people of his nation and finally as he comes home to bless his family on this wonderful occasion his own wife looks to slander his own name. he is forced to respond harshly to maintain the dignity of the crown and to one more remind anyone who might think that he is like the previous king that they are sadly mistaken. the king David will lead his people by example, he will not let his kingship interfere with his experience as a member of the Jewish people. Michael the antagonist of this small story is left childless by David for the same reason, he wants no more confusion amongst his own household as to how things will go while he or his descendants are on the throne. what Michal did was not judge the king for he would have been able to cope with such a thing but what Michal did was to attack the validity of Davids's style of rule, which David could not allow to continue any further.
painted on the canvas of this tiny story of Nach is a major testimony to the integrity of David's dedication to the service of God above all else. he is a servant of Hashem first, a king of a nation of priest second. the complex balance which he must maintain in order to ensure that he can best accomplish both tasks facing him is one that baffles the mind. but yet we see a king not afraid to let all those who might doubt him and his intentions that his intentions are often in the purist of holiness.