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The sceptics who doubt our spiritual leaders are correct in one aspect the considerations that go into their decisions aren't at all based on logic...

by Rabbi Lazer Brody

And I filled him with the spirit of G-d in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge. (Exodus 31:3)

Rashi interprets "knowledge" as a spirit of holiness, or ruach hakodesh, the very cogent tool in the decision-making process of Gedolei Yisrael, our spiritual leaders. Frequently, people raise eyebrows at the seemingly illogical decisions and directives of our spiritual leaders. The sceptics are correct in one aspect the considerations that go into our leaders' decisions aren't at all based on conventional logic. The man on the street is incapable of understanding, just like the simple soldier on the battlefield who doesn't understand the orders that are filtering down from the head command post. Yet, the simple soldier is down in the valley while the general in the command post is on top of the mountain with a view of the entire battlefield.

Indeed, our spiritual leaders decide and act in a manner that often defies logic and conventional thinking. Why? Their decisions are based on Torah the Divine logic and insight that Hashem grants those who fear Him. That is the spirit of holiness that Rashi is talking about.

When King David was forced to flee Jerusalem because of his son Avshalom's revolt against him, Shimi ben Gera[1] a member of the tribe of Benjamin who was angry that his tribe and King Saul forfeited the monarchy to David and the tribe of Judah confronted King David in the worst way. Avishay ben Tzuriah, King David's loyal general who accompanied him, wanted to kill Shimi then and there. "Your majesty," said Avishay, "Shimi is a dead dog let me take off his head..."

King David's officers were Torah scholars. Avishay knew that Shimi, who not only cursed the king but threw stones at him as well, had incurred both forty lashes[2] and the death penalty.[3] There was no question that Avishay was in the right, both from a Halachic standpoint and from a logical standpoint. Someone who acts in such a disgusting manner towards Hashem's anointed King of Israel doesn't deserve to live for a single additional moment.

Yet, King David refused to allow Avishay to lift a finger against Shimi. "Hashem told him to curse," said the King, accepting this terrible insult with perfect emuna and inner calm. Then and there, all stern judgments against him were mitigated, An amazing set of Divine wheels were set in motion. Achitopel, the King's treacherous advisor who counseled and encouraged Avshalom, committed suicide. Avshalom was killed and the revolution fizzled. Sure, King David's throne in Jerusalem was quickly restored to him, but at the time, it looked like he didn't stand much of a chance against the rebellion. So what was it that King David saw, which motivated his decision to let Shimi live for the meanwhile?[4]

King David, in his amazing spirit of holiness, saw that if he would allow Shimi to live in the meanwhile, then Hashem would act measure for measure, and when the Jewish People would really need it, Hashem would not activate stern judgment against them, even though they deserved it.

As the anointed King of Israel and leader of the Jewish nation, King David prepared the foundation for the miraculous salvation of the Jewish People from Haman and his evil decrees; in other words, Purim and each one of our lives today are all thanks to King David.


At the time Shimi ben Gera cursed King David, he did not yet have children. By letting him live, King David enabled Shimi to become a father. Shimi's great grandson was Mordechai, the righteous, bold and uncompromising leader who stood up to Haman and facilitated Haman's unexpected downfall and Hashem's miraculous rescue of our people from what seemed to be certain annihilation, Heaven forbid. The Megilla cites Mordechai's lineage and says[5], "Mordechai the son of Yair, the son of Kish," all of the tribe of Benjamin. Had King David killed Shimi, Mordechai would never have been born. We therefore see that the miracle of Purim was by virtue of daat Torah, King David's Torah insight and holy spirit from years prior.

We learn from the above that we must neither second-guess nor criticize the decisions of Gedolei Yisrael, whether we understand them or not. Just as we must believe in Hashem, the Torah commands us to believe in our righteous leaders of every generation.

[1] - See Samuel II, Ch. 16
[2] - See Rambam, Hilchot Sanhedrin, ch. 26, Halacha 1
[3] - Ibid, Hilchot Melachim, ch. 3, Halacha 8
[4] - Eventually King Solomon, King David's son, brought justice to Shimi
[5] - Esther 2:6

Rabbi Lazer BrodyRabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.

Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.

"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.


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