It’s Tuesday, and we have a great Tuesday TorahTutors Tidbit for your learning pleasure! Real Torah, from real TorahTutors sessions.
A TorahTutors student learning the book of Shoftim in depth with her tutor got to explore a story that often gets missed in day school classes due to time constraints.
When Gidon declines the invitation to rule as king, to be succeeded by a son through a formal process, commentaries display mixed reactions: he is praised for his humility, but some feel he should not have passed up an opportunity to create stability in an era that desperately needed it. The subsequent rise of his son Avimelech in Shoftim Chapter 9 might be taken as support for the latter view.
Malbim points out that Avimelech’s campaign for support in Shechem rests on two arguments: first, that being ruled by all 70 children of Gidon would clearly not be good for them; and second, that he specifically *would* be good for them, as his mother was from Shechem and thus they have a family connection. Abarbanel notes that while it doesn’t seem realistic that they would be ruled by 70 brothers, in essence, that is the situation Gidon left them in by not choosing an heir during his lifetime.
Swooping in to fill that leadership vacuum, Avimelech quickly does gain the support of the people of Shechem – not, as Malbim highlights, because he would be good for the Jews overall, but “because they said, He is our brother!” (9:3).
What follows is a terrible story of fratricidal massacre and corruption, that also contains important messages about leadership and other themes.
We are so privileged to be able to offer our students the opportunity to learn whatever Jewish texts interest them or fill holes in their previous learning, fully individualized. There is so much to learn!!