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Rebellion Against King

By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

Posted on 09/23/18

In Sefer Yehoshua, Perek Alef, posuk yud ches, the posuk teaches us that anyone who will not listen to Yehoshua and rebel against the king should die. The Gemara in Sanhedrin, daf mem tes, amud alef learns from this posuk that one who is a mored bemalchus (rebels against the king) is to be punished by death. We find that when Shimi ben Geirah cursed DovidAvishai ben Tzeruya wanted to kill Shimi ben Geirah, but Dovid did not let him. When Dovid returned to his palace, Shimi ben Geira came to ask mechila and Dovid swore that he would not kill Shimi.


We know that a mored bemalchus is chayev misa. We also know that a king who is mochel on his kovod, his kovod is not nimchal. How could Dovid Hamelech not kill Shimi ben Geira? We could answer that since Dovid Hamelech left a tzavaa with his son Shlomo that Shimi ben Geira should not die peacefully, he actually did have him killed. The Chasam Sofer says that it is true that a king can’t be mochel on his kovod; however, he could be mochel for the punishment that a person who lacks the proper respect for the king deserves.


How can this be explained? A king can’t be mochel on his kovod, but for punishment for his kovod he could be mochel? The answer could be that while the action of disrespect is happening, a king can’t be mochel for his kovod; but at a later date, the king would be able to be mochel for his kovod.


The Gemara in Yuma, daf chof bais, amud bais explains why Shaul Hamelech was punished by having the malchus taken away. It is because Shaul was mochel on his kovod when the bums of his times mocked him and said that he (Shaul) won’t be able to help them. Shaul kept quiet. The nation wanted to kill these people, but Shaul Hamelech stopped them. Rashi explains the difference between Shaul and Dovid. In the case of Shaul, the scenario took place at the beginning of his kingdom and he needed to establish his rule. He didn’t act and was therefore punished, whereas the scenario with Dovid was not at the beginning of his rule and so he was therefore not punished.


The Maharsha argues on Rashi and says that really the king can’t be mochel his kovod at all. In actuality Dovid was not mochel. Since he saw that Mordechai and Esther were going to be descendants of Shimi ben Geira he held off punishing Shimi until later in his life via his son Shlomo. A king can’t be mochel on his kovod at all, not even at a later date.


Let us hope to be able to accord the proper kovod to a Jewish King with the coming of Mashiach tzidkeinu.


Do you have a topic or discussion you want to read about? Please send comments or questions to hymanbsdhevens@gmail.com or berachsteinfeldscorner@gmail.com