Haftarah Parshat Vayehi
(1 Kings 2:1-12)
December 18, 2010
11 Tevet 5771
David wanted to set his house in order before his death. Like all of us, he was concerned with the perpetuation of his legacy. He made clear to Solomon, his son, the parameters necessary for the preservation of his royal line: \”I am going the way of all the earth; be strong and show yourself a man. Keep the charge of the Lord your God; walking in His ways and following His laws. His commandments, His rules, and His admonitions as recorded in the Teachings of Moses, in order that you may succeed in whatever you undertake and wherever your turn. The Lord will fulfill the promise that He made concerning me: \’If your descendents are scrupulous in their conduct, and walk before Me faithfully, with all their heart and soul, your line on the throne of Israel shall never end.\’\” (2-5)
David\’s message to Solomon obviously inspired the following midrash: \”Three things were given conditionally: the land of Israel, the Temple, and the kingdom of David – [this] excludes the book of the Torah and the covenant with Aaron, which were unconditional… How do we know about the kingdom of David? It is said: \’If your children keep My covenant and My decrees that I teach them, then their sons also to the end of time shall sit upon your throne\’ (Psalm 132:12), and if not, \’Then I will visit their transgression with the rod.\’ (Psalm 89:33)\” (Mechilta de Rabbi Ishmael Amalek Yitro 2. Horowitz Rabin ed. p. 201)
It is uncanny how much people forget that the most precious things we have in life are given to us provisionally and that it is easy for us to fritter them away. Once they are gone, acquiring them again is not always possible. David wanted to remind Solomon that this idea applies to his family\’s hold on the throne. The sages wanted to remind us that this same idea applied to some of our nation\’s most precious assets. This same message applies to those things that are most precious to us as individuals. The sages\’ remedy for this malady was obvious. God\’s Torah and our covenant with Him, both of which are eternal, offer us the parameters for preserving that which is most precious to us.
This study piece is offered as a service of the United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva. It is prepared by Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
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