Friday, October 25, 2013

Lessons in Grabbing: Haftarah for Parshat Chaye Sarah

Reading any of the stories surrounding the transition of power between Kings David and Solomon, I always feel as if I am starting to hear the music to the Godfather playing in the background.  The intrigue, manipulation, and murder recorded in the Book of Kings could easily be (and has been now that I think of it) material for a movie.

We have just such a scene in the haftarah chosen for this week.  Just as we read about the deaths of Sarah and Abraham in our Torah portion, we encounter a scene about David's plans for a future without him.  And we learn from it a very powerful lesson that applies today.  Applies to so many areas from how government affairs should be conducted, how we treat the environment, and most importantly, how we interact with each other.

In brief, David's son, Adonijah attempts a coup against his father, not the first time that has happened, and the forces of the kingdom rally to the opposing sides.  Adonijah, has miscalculated just how feeble his father has become (or at least how feeble his advisers have not yet become) and his plans are foiled.

Adonijah is a great example of the rabbinic principle of tafasta m'ruba lo tafasta - "one who grabs too much ends up grabbing nothing at all."

As much as Adonijah's is a lesson about only taking what you really need (and really deserve), it is even more a lesson about miscalculating the situation.  He woefully misplays his hand by acting too soon, it would seem, and failing to neutralize those who are still quite able to act against him.

One hopes we will not find ourselves needing to fight our families over who shall be king.  But we should take the lessons of the haftarah to heart.  That careful planning and careful analysis, that understanding the larger picture and how we fit into it - and not just what will bring us immediate gains, that all these as well as being modest and thoughtful in what we take, what we use, that these are all the lessons we are encouraged to learn this week.

I hope it will be a lesson you really to take to heart and keep.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Benson

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