Avraham ben Yaakov



We find little in our text about Saul's greatness and good qualities despite his perfection and outstanding saintliness (CHASSIDUT), while we find a great deal both in the Bible and in the words of the sages (Berachos 4a) about David. This is because Saul's soul is rooted in the World of Concealment (Nekudas Tzion, Yesod of Imma, the "World of the Male"), while that of David is from the Revealed World (Yesod of Nukva = Nekudas Tzion ViYerushalayim). For this reason, Saul was modest (hidden) and he calls David "my son" and became his father-in-law.

Saul's root lay in the Yesod of the Kings of Edom who died (see Genesis 36:37: the SIXTH king of Edom was called SHA'UL). Thus Saul "reigned. and died." His kingship, being from the world of TOHU ("devastation"), could not endure. David, on the other hand, is rooted in the world of TIKKUN ("repair"), and for this reason his kingship endured. (ARI, Likutey Torah I Samuel 17).

God commanded Samuel to go to the house of Yishai to anoint his son as king, but although Samuel had said "I am the seer" (ch 9 v 19), even he was unable to SEE who was really MASHIACH, "for it is not as man sees, for man sees according to the eyes but God sees into the heart" (v 7). From the outside, Yishai's first-born Eliav seemed outstanding, but God knew that he was given to lose his temper (ch 7 v 28) and was not fit to be king.

Nobody could have imagined that Yishai's "small" shepherd son was the one, because Mashiach is necessarily clothed in darkness and mystery and surrounded by the most powerful opposing forces, including even those who are apparently very wises, and even those who are closest to him.

David is nothing less than the reincarnated soul of ADAM (ADaM=Adam-David-Moshe). As we read the beautiful narrative about this most breathtakingly enchanting of all the Biblical heroes, we must constantly bear in mind that while the stories show us the HITZONIUS ("externality"), the true PNIMIUS ("inner face") of David is to be found in his immortal TEHILIM (Psalms), which are the very foundation of the spiritual life of Israel until today. A substantial part of the prayer services in the Siddur (Jewish prayer book) is made up of Psalms, and it was these songs that were and will be sung in the Temple in Jerusalem . David taught the mankind the true path of RETURN and REPENTANCE (Psalm 51:15).

It is said that Samuel was terrified when he saw that God's chosen was ADMONI ("ruddy", from the root Edom, v 12) - saying that this one too was a shedder of blood like Esau (=Edom) - until Samuel saw that this came "with beauty of the eyes". The "eyes" of Israel are the Sanhedrin: everything David did, including all the wars and bloodshed, were carried out in accordance with Torah law and the guidance of the Sages (Bamidbar Rabba 63:8).

When David stepped forth, the very oil jumped out of Samuel's horn to anoint him. This was Moses' anointing oil, which was kept by the Ark in the Sanctuary, from where Samuel took it to anoint Israel 's true king.

As soon as David was anointed, Saul became afflicted by an "evil spirit" - the penalty for his having failed to obey the voice of the holy spirit that spoke through Samuel ordering him to wipe out all Amalek. The intention of that "one of the lads" who advised Saul to take a musician to play to him was far from pure. This was Do'eg HaEdomi, the "unique ONE" among Saul's "lads", Do'eg the brilliant trouble-maker. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 93b) shows how every one of his words to Saul (v 18) was designed to bring him to jealousy of David. "He knows music" - "he knows how to ask". "Mighty" - "he knows how to answer". "a man of war" - "that knows how to give and take in the war of the Torah". "and HaShem is with him - "THE HALACHAH IS LIKE HIM!!!" "And when Do'eg told Saul that 'HaShem is with him - which was not so in Saul's case - he became disheartened and became jealous of him" (Sanhedrin ibid.)

Yet the pure, innocent David came from the world of TIKKUN and was therefore able to heal Saul. "And he would play WITH HIS HAND" (v 23). His HAND = YaD, made up of the letters YOD (10) and DALETH (4) = 14. For Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) speaks of the 14 good times and 14 bad times. David would play only in the 14 good times. This is because David is the mystery of the waxing moon, which grows from the slenderest crescent to fullness in the first 14 of the 28 days in which the moon can be seen each month. The YAD (14) with which David played derived from the 4 letters of HAVAYAH plus the 10 letters of the Milui of HAVAYAH = 14 = YaD. David's power to heal and repair comes from his pure radiation of the light of HaShem.


The story of David and Goliath must be one of the most famous and inspiring of all biblical tales and has been illustrated countless times (see Shulchan Aruch Orach Hayim 307:20).

Targum on ch 17 v 8 brings out the force of Goliath's taunts against Israel . "I am Goliath the Philistine from Gath that killed the two sons of Eli the Priest, Pinchas and Hofni, and I captured the Ark of the Covenant of HaShem and brought it to the house of Dagon my idol. and in every battle that the Philistines waged I went out at the head of the army and was victorious in battle and I cast down dead corpses like the dust of the earth. and as for you, Children of Israel, what might has Saul son of Kish from Giv'ah that you appointed king over you done for you? If he is a mighty hero, let him engage in battle, and if he is a weak man, choose someone else to come down against me".

If the Philistines represented the ultimate of unholy GEVURAH (PHILISHTIM = 860 = 10 x ELOKIM), Goliath was the very epitome of this utter concealment. According to rabbinic tradition, HORPAH who is mentioned as Goliath's mother (II Samuel 21:16ff and commentators ad loc.) was none other than ORPAH, daughter-in-law of Naomi, who when her sister-in-law Ruth, David's great grandmother, converted, refused to do so.

ARI explains that Ruth and Orpah parallel Rachel and Leah. Leah was marked out for the unholy Esau (SITRA ACHRA) but had the ability to attach herself to the side of the holy (Jacob, SITRA DI-KEDUSHAH), which she took, thereby becoming the "chariot" of the World of Concealment while Rachel was the "chariot" of the World of Revelation. Like Leah, Orphah could have attached herself to the Side of Holiness had she converted, but she refused, turned her back (OREPH) and instead became consort of the Angel of Death. All of the holiness contained in Orpah went to Ruth, while all the unholiness contained in Ruth went to Orpah. Thus Ruth was blessed to be LIKE RACHEL AND LEAH (Ruth 4:11). Orpah on the other hand opened herself indiscriminately to all the Philistines (see Rashi on ch 17 v 23) and from in between them all came forth Goliath, who is therefore called "the man in between" (ch 17 v 4). The unholy side is the evil mirror-image of the side of the holy, and thus Goliath is on the side of the unholy what David is on the side of the holy. (ARI Likutey Torah on I Samuel ch 17).

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov explains that the "greaves of brass (NECHOSHES) on his legs" (ch 17 v 6) allude to the God-concealing ideology which attributes everything to natural causes (the "legs") that Goliath represents. This is the ideology of the serpent (NACHASH). (Likutey Moharan Vol II, Torah 4:7-8).

According to natural law and science it was completely ridiculous that a tender, inexperienced youth like David could conquer a mighty giant like Goliath who was armed to the teeth. This was why David's brother Eliav was so angry with him for coming to join the "action" on the battlefield (v 28), and Saul too could not believe that David could be victorious. However, David had already conquered "the lion and the bear" (actually there were 3 lions and 3 bears according to the Midrash brought by Rashi on v 34). These wild animals allude to the evil philosophers of materialism and natural cause who have preyed upon Israelite souls, turning them into atheists (see Likutey Moharan loc. cit.).

"And David said to the Philistine, You come to me with a sword and a spear and a javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of Hosts." David's purpose was that "all this Assembly shall know that it is not with the sword and the spear that God saves." (v 47).

The shepherd's satchel in which David took his stones alludes to MALCHUS. The "five stones" are CHESSED-GEVURAH-TIFERET-NETZACH-HOD. He took them from the NACHAL = YESOD. David made these attributes into a unity - one stone. This is the EVEN SHELEMAH RETZONO - "a perfect stone [is] His will" (Proverbs 11:1), alluding to God's WILL, which has power over EVERYTHING, including all the powerful natural causes that Goliath flaunted.

The stone with which David killed Goliath is bound up with the mystery of the stone that Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, which was hewn out without hands and which struck the great statue he had seen, causing it to collapse and be ground up, signifying the destruction of the empires that subject Israel heralding the everlasting kingship of Heaven (Daniel 2:34 & 44-5).

David showed that despite seemingly overwhelming odds, God's WILL rules over everything. David is the secret of prayer, in which we pray that "He should carry out our will as His will". David's conquest over Goliath was his first lesson to Israel in the power of prayer.

But Mashiach cannot be revealed more than momentarily each time. No sooner had David conquered Goliath than the MACHLOKES - the controversy and opposition that attended him throughout his life - began to develop in earnest. The verses in Chapter 17 vv 55-8 in which Saul starts enquiring who David really is are interpreted in the Talmud (Yevamos 76b) as alluding to the dispute about whether David's Moabite pedigree on Ruth's side even allowed him to enter the Assembly of Israel since "a Moabite shall not come to you in the Assembly of the Lord" (Deut. 23:4). Once again it was the sinister Do'eg who stirred up the trouble. While Saul and Avner opined that only a Moabite was forbidden to enter but not a Moabitess, Do'eg argued that the same reasoning could be used to permit a MAMZERA (illegitimate female) into the Assembly since the verse apparently only forbids a male MAMZER. (Deut. Ibid. v. 3). With Saul and Avner silenced, a cloud of doubts and questions settled over the little shepherd David.



By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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