King David, the Days of Awe, and Relationships Beyond Repair

The biblical book of Samuel depicts David going from his role as the favorite of King Saul to being the target of his rage, jealousy, and obsession. Convinced that David is determined to overthrow him and replace him as monarch, Saul leads a contingent of soldiers in pursuing his former protégé into the Judean Desert. When presented with a chance to assassinate the king hellbent on killing him, David instead cuts off a piece of his cloak and—once at a safe distance—holds it up as proof that he remains loyal to Saul. Saul, whose fear of David has brought him past the point of madness, remains unsatisfied.

Benjamin Goldschmidt reflects on this story in the context of David’s life, the Days of Awe—a time of forgiveness and reconciliation—and the psalms of David incorporated into the High Holy Day liturgy:

It is [after this encounter] that David says to himself, “‘Someday I shall certainly perish at the hands of Saul.’” He realizes that at a certain point, he cannot expose himself to danger anymore, that Saul is intent on his destruction and that he can no longer rely on the caves of the desert for safety. It is then that our revered Jewish hero must turn, in humiliation, to Israel’s enemy, the Philistines, to give him asylum.

But according to the M’tsudat David, [the 18th-century commentary of Rabbi David Altschuler], David’s realization is not only that he is no longer safe anywhere in Israel. It is also an internal revelation that after that moment in the cave, there is nothing he can do to salvage this relationship. David knows that he will never play the lyre for his mentor again; he will never carry his armor into battle again.

King David’s glory was not defined by the battle against [Goliath] in the valley of Elah. His greatness was not displayed fully in public, before two nations watching. Rather, it was in the darkness of the cave—in which he showed his moral strength by not avenging himself, and by allowing God to serve as true judge. His moral character is defined while in hiding, in his lowest moment, when even then he is able to find the downtrodden and bring them under his wings. This is the person who seven years later will enter Jerusalem and make it the eternal capital of Israel and a bedrock of civilization. This is the ancestor of the messianic redemption.

Read more at Medium

More about: Book of Samuel, Hebrew Bible, High Holidays, King David, King Saul


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University