(Haftara Shmuel I, 20:18-42)

  1. [25:31] “Sell me your birthright.” Ya’akov is called an “ish tam”—an honest man [25:28]. However, he takes advantage of Esav’s weakness and buys the birthright from Esav. Can he still be called an honest person after this sale? Can he still be called an honest man after he tricks his father in order to get the blessing?
  2. [26:27] “Why have you come to me?” asked Yitzchak. “You hate me.” Avimelech had driven Yitzchak away and now he wanted to make peace. Yitzchak is at first truthful and antagonistic, and later becomes friendly.  What are Yitchak’s real feelings and what does this encounter tell us about Yitzchak?
  3. [27:46] “Rivkah said to Yitzchak: I am disgusted with life because of those Hittite women.” Rivkah is again deceiving Yitzchak with this speech.  She really wants to protect Ya’akov from Esav.  This whole story is full of deception. However, the mission of this family in the world is to practise and teach the world “kindness and justice” [18:19].  How can such a pure mission come out of a beginning so full of deception?
  4. [Haftara: 20:33] “…And Saul threw his spear at him…” Saul is the first king of the Israelites in the land of Israel, and it is obvious that his mind is unbalanced. Why does our tradition insist on telling us that our heroes are not always heroic and our leaders are sometimes far from perfect?
  5. [Haftara: 20:42] “God will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.” Our tradition considers the love between David and Yehonatan to be a pure love, as opposed to other types of love.  What is a pure love?


Since the commandments were given by God in order to bestow His highest good upon us, they should be observed in a thankful spirit befitting such a gift. One should therefore keep the commandments out of love and reverence for God, not because of one’s preferences or logic, or for any other ulterior worldly motive. In all observance, one’s only motive should be to serve God…

–R. Aryeh Kaplan,  1934-1983, USA.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


Mizmor LeDavid meets at the Mesorati High School, 8 Beitar Street, in the auditorium. There is another minyan that meets there, we are the one further north. Accessible from Beitar, the single gate at the bottom of the semi-circle of steps, or from the north end of Efrata Street, through the gate on the right, then turn left.

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