This Weeks Haftorah
Rabbi Levi Langer

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Haftorah Vayechi

This week's haftorah contains David's last will and testament to his son Solomon. David adjures his son to follow the path of Hashem, and also gives him instructions regarding certain individuals. The passage begins, "The time of David's death drew near, and he commanded his son Solomon: I am going the way of all the earth; be strong and you shall be a man. And you shall keep the rules of Hashem your Lord, maintaining His statutes and His commands ... as it is written in the Law of Moses." Malbim, one of the classic commentators, takes note of the dual nature of this admonishment. Solomon is to show himself to be a man--he must have the courage to make his own decisions and to act upon them. He will have to demonstrate independence and leadership ability. Yet he must never think that his kingship gives him the right to abrogate any portion of the Law of Moses, given by Hashem at Sinai. The Law is immutable, and even the most powerful ruler in Israel may not deviate from it even one iota.

Actually this passage, David's last words to Solomon, has a parallel in the Book of Psalms. Psalm 72 is titled "Of Solomon." Therein, David prays to Hashem for the welfare of Solomon's future kingdom; that he may be successful in his endeavors and that he may have compassion for all of the people. The psalm ends with the words, "Blessed be Hashem the Lord ... and may his glory fill the earth, Amen and Amen. So end the prayers of David, son of Yishai." In other words, this is David's final psalm, composed just before his death. Samson Raphael Hirsch finds yet an additional meaning in the last sentence of the psalm. He explains that only when this concept, that Hashem's honor shall fill the world, will actually be realized, will David feel that his dreams are fulfilled.

It is significant that this message serves as the conclusion to David's words of prayer for his son Solomon's future. David understood that it is impossible to view Solomon's success in his kingship as an independent goal, Rather, this goal must necessarily be tied together with all mankind's dream: the universal acceptance of Hashem's dominion in all corners of the world. Solomon himself, for all of his might, is but a representative of the true Ruler.

Herein lies the common denominator between David's final words of admonition to his son, in our haftorah, and his last prayer to Hashem on this very subject. To be sure, Solomon will have to assert himself and demonstrate his independence in his thinking and planning. But he will find his fulfillment in doing all this within the bounds of Hashem's Law. And he must direct his own actions to actualizing Hashem's own plan for the world.

Copyright (c) 1996 by Rabbi Levi Langer

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