Misjudged: Do We See Who They Are?
Would King David Be Kicked Out of Yeshiva?
A Life Lessons Story by Chana Klein
If we were to meet King David, today???
If we were to meet King David, or his great grandmother, Ruth, as teenagers, not knowing who they were to become, how would we treat them today?
Would we recognize them for who they are?
Would we see and respect the greatness in either of them?
Would we question and disbelieve?
Would we prohibit our children from playing with them?
Would we let them attend our yeshivas?
How would we have judged David?
A youth tending the herd?
How would we have judged Ruth when she arrived in Beit Lechem?
After all, Ruth was from the land of Moav.
Ruth was a Moabite.
The Moabite Nation
What does that mean to a Jew?
While other nations murdered us, plundered us, enslaved us, the Moav nation is considered to have done worse by what they did NOT do.
They refused to offer food to Moshe Rabbeinu and Bnei Yisroel (Moses and The Israelites) when they passed Moav in the wilderness.
The Moabite men (not the women) were, therefore, considered to be a people lacking loving-kindness, a crime worse than the affliction, bondage, or murder that other nations committed.
But Ruth, who was from Moav, became the mother of the kingship of the Jewish people, a people that STAND for loving-kindness.
How can that happen?
Ruth arrived in Beit Lechem, with her mother-in-law, Naomi.
She was shunned, and continued to be shunned, for the rest of her life.
But it never diminished her goodness.
Was such treatment called for?
Was it we, the Jewish people, here who were lacking loving kindness, as did the Moav nation in the desert?
Boaz, her righteous husband, died right after he married her.
People blamed his death on the fact that he married a Moabite woman.
(The Jewish people were recalling how their ancestor, Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died when he settled in the land of Moav.)
The Master Plan
No one was aware of the plan of the Master of the Universe.
That plan was for Ruth to give birth to a child named Oved,
Who was to be father of Yishai.
Yishai was the father of King David.
David was not tall and handsome like his older brother, Eliav.
The text tells us that David was a ruddy child.
He was a red-head and likely, all over the place.
His temperament, of course. helped him to guard and protect the animals in his care, with whom he spent most of his time.
For generations the Jewish community questioned David’s legitimacy.
The story goes like this:
David’s father, Yishai began questioning whether he was permitted to his wife (Nitzevet bat Adael) seeing as she was from the Moabite nation. Jews are not allowed to marry “men” from the Moabite nation. (But Jewish law permits marrying the women.)
So he separated from her.
But Nitzevet bat Adael wanted another child.
So she disguised herself as one of the servants with whom Yishai was about to cohabit.
And Nitzevet showed up in Yishai’s bed.
As a result, she became pregnant with David.
Yishai assumed that David was illegitimate.
He ostracized Nitzevet and discarded the child, David, to the fields to care for the herd.
Yishai then ignored David, for the most part.
During his youth, David was accused of every bad intention.
Whereas he always gave loving kindness to all, he wrote:
“More numerous than the hairs on my head are those who hate me, groundlessly.“ (Psalm 69:4)
In his goodness, he took the blame for all of the things he was accused of.
David admitted to robberies he did not commit. (“What I never stole, I must then restore.” Psalm 69)
He took the blame for things he did not do and did not take any credit for what he did do.
Why was David so hated?
How is it that we, as a people, were so blind?
Then the story goes to Beit Lechem. (This is all in Chapter 16 of Shmuel I.)
In Search of the Next King of Israel
God says to the prophet,
“Hey Shmuli, I am sending you to Yishai because I’ve decided that one his sons is to be the next king of Israel. You are to invite Yishai and his sons to a sacrificial feast and then I will point out which one to anoint as king.” (Clearly, the King of Israel is divinely chosen.)
Yishai responded by bringing seven sons, leaving David behind to tend the flock.
When they got there, Shmuel took one look at the handsome Eliav and figured, “Oh, this must be the one.”
But God said,
“Pay no attention to his appearance or his stature.
For not as man sees does the Lord see.
A man sees only what is visible, but the Lord sees into the heart.” Shmuel I 16:7
Then Yishai called each son up so that Shmuel may see them one at a time. To each one, he said,
“The Lord has not chosen this one either.”
Until. . .
“The Lord has not chosen any of these. Are these all the boys you have?”
Still, Yishai did not even mention or think of David.
Neither did any of the seven sons mention David.
Upon Shmuel pressing him, eventually, Yishai did admit that there is “a little one and he is tending the sheep.”
David was as “little” as 29 years old at the time.
But Yishai still did not offer to bring David to the sacrificial feast.
Shmuel had to inform Yishai that he did not call this meeting for them to eat. He called them here rather to anoint one of his sons.
And “We will not sit down to eat until that son gets here!”
And finally, Yishai sent for David.
And God said to Shmuel,
“This is the one.”
And Shmuel anointed David.
David’s father and all of his brothers were witness to David’s anointment.
And the Day After????
So what does a man do the day, and the month, and the year, after he has been anointed king of Israel?
David continued to tend the family sheep.
Later, David took a second job as King Saul’s attendant.
David was still not recognized for who he was.
No one saw, or knew, the goodness in David.
No one believed him.
No one loved him.
No one cared.
He was accused, discarded and ignored.
That David was God’s anointed, for them, was out of the question.
Yet, that is who he was.
How many of us and of our loved ones have endured the same misunderstanding of who we really are?
Some believed that they can really see and judge the person who stands before them.
And that idea prevented them from seeing their king, and his own righteousness.
I wonder if it is those who are so sure that they see who are really the most blind among us.
Would We See?
What if the true anointed showed up today?
In the US? or in Israel? or someplace else?
Would we see?
Would we know?
Or would we also accuse, and discard, and ignore?
Who of our own children have goodness that is not yet recognized?
Who among them tries so hard, yet gets criticized in school and other places, or kicked out, or made fun of, or bullied?
Who among them might be a King David?
My own story:
The school psychologist sat across from me at the tiny table in the classroom set aside for our meeting.
“Your son has an attention span of Zero”
She was in charge of the IEP meeting at the Community School, a Special Education Elementary School on Forest Ave in Teaneck, NJ.
The child study team staff seemed to be holding their breath staring at me, as if waiting for me to cry or yell.
I felt like apologizing for not meeting their expectations, for not getting upset.
As a matter of fact, I was thrilled.
You see, my 11 year old son was alive after doctors had told me for years that he would not make it to this age.
Compared to that, how could I be upset just because he was not able to learn?
He was alive!
During those years, my son was also kicked out of two Boy Scout troops, the first because they feared he would have a seizure during a meeting, and the second for not working hard enough on his badges.
And then, he was the only kid in the town of New Milford to not be allowed to play in little league. That is, until the mayor herself stepped in and threatened to close down the league. An hour later we got a call from his new coach.
No one saw who he really was.
At a later meeting with the Community High School personnel, I was informed that my son was not capable enough to be admitted into even the special education high school.
They explained to me that he would not be able to handle the changing classes or the subject matter.
They suggested vocational training that consisted of learning to stuff envelopes.
I had to fight for a trial period in that school to show them he can do it.
And he did do it.
And then I had to fight for a trial period in the public high school because that is what he wanted.
You might ask what that incapable child is doing today.
You might wonder if he ever got a job.
Yes, he got a job. At first, at the lowest level in a restaurant.
First, a bus boy, then, a waiter and then he was made a corporate trainer for the chain. Eventually, he went to being a manager and later was promoted as Managing Partner.
They were calling upon Brett often to supervise the opening of new restaurants in various places in the northeast.
They had him in charge of projections for the whole region.
Recently, they were prepping Brett to manage the building of their first NYC restaurant and he is presently in charge of that entity. He hired the 130 staff members to work under him. Then, he trained them in four different groups before he trained them all together.
And the restaurant is doing great and his workers love working under his wise leadership. Parents of several employees have come in to thank him for making their child such a happy worker.
He is highly successful by any standard.
In his spare time, he has a practice as a dog rehabilitator and his deep understanding of animal behavior and how to reach the psyche of each animal has helped him to do miracles with that.
Each Learns His Own Way
We don’t all learn the same. Each child lives at his own pace and his own way,
If only Yishai and his seven sons, and the whole town, could have known who David really was. How he suffered.
How he received cruelty, giving back only loving kindness.
It scares me to ask if today, King David were to attend a yeshiva, as the child he was, would he have been expelled?
Would Ruth have not even been allowed into a school in the first place?
I pray that when the “anointed one” shows up again that we have the openness to recognize him (or her.)
I pray that we have the hearts to welcome the King Davids, and their parents, and the Ruths, who show up in our lives and in our communities.
I pray that we make up for what our ancestors did to David and to Ruth.
I pray that our children achieve what we, ourselves, may not be able to.
That is, I pray that these children help us, the parents, and teachers, and others, to achieve our better selves.
Copyright © Chana Klein 2015