This Weeks Haftorah
Rabbi Levi Langer

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Haftorah Chaye Sarah

"His father had never reprimanded him, saying, 'Why have you acted thus?'" (I Kings 1:6)

The haftorah recounts the story of King David's son Adoniyahu, who attempted in David's old age to usurp the throne for himself. We are told that there had been a problem with Adoniyahu's upbringing. His father, David, had never reprimanded him for his misdeeds; had never said, "What have you done?"

The Chida (Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai, leading eighteenth-century Sephardic scholar) notes that the verse does not use the present tense: "What are you doing?" Certainly, when David caught Adoniyahu in the act of doing wrong, he stopped him immediately. The point of the verse is that if the misdeed had already been committed, David allowed bygones to be bygones and trusted that Adoniyahu would act properly in the future. He felt that Adoniyahu's instincts and judgement were sound and could be trusted.

Eventually, when Adoniyahu's instincts told him that he was the most fitting successor to David, he trusted himself and didn't question his own judgement.

I once heard an explanation from Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon on the verse (Proverbs 22:6), "Educate your child according to his way; then when he grows old he will not depart from it." This verse, said Rabbi Solomon, teaches us about the importance of constantly educating, always attempting to learn more about one's own capabilities and responsibilities. If we inculcate this habit into our children when they are yet young, it will become a way of life with them. Then even when they are old, they will not depart from this constant process of self-examination.

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