Losing Sight:The Story of Tzidkiyahu
Losing Sight:The Story of Tzidkiyahu
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תמלול אירוע Losing Sight:The Story of Tzidkiyahu שהתקיים בתאריך 05/01/2020

In Preparation for the 10th of Tevet
Good evening, if everyone could please take your seats, we will be ready to begin. Welcome to Beit Avichai, some prepare for 10 in Tevet by drinking, nice to see some coming to prepare themselves spiritually. We have with us Reb. Finklestein. We will be happy to see you in our next events. Good evening, the class is not going to be as short as Tamar said. 10 in Tevet, Tuesday, maybe Massiah will come, if there is a delay we will wait, if not we will commemorate 10 in Tevet. The day of the Mazor, the siege that Nebuchadnezzer placed on Jerusalem, the beginning of the fall of the Temple, we need to commemorate it with Tzom, fasting, the Rabnut in Israel declared it is the general Kadish day, for all the murdered victims of the Shoah. But today I would like to discuss Zidkiyahu, which was not his real name, he was the leader at the time that Nebuchadnezzer decided to put the siege, blind him, murder his children, and destroy Jerusalem. Tzidkiyahu is not a warm character. What was his behavior, and what led to the destruction of the Temple. We will read some biblical narratives, to try and get a full picture. Full disclosure, each book in the Tanach has its own agenda, its own message, I don’t want. He started with the source of Melakhim 2, 24. Nebuchadnezzer took the King of Judea to Babylon, a little of Judea remained, he expelled him to Babel, and his mother, Yehoyachin, his servants, and he took all the elite of the Jewish people and he sent them to Babylon, who as left, the Shlimazels. The people who live in poverty, the not that exciting people, Nebuchadnezzer wanted to keep the land quiet. The ministers of the army, the King of Babylon brought to Babel. He could have killed them, but he didn’t. He placed Mataniya, appoints him to be the king over what’s left in Israel, changes his name to Tzidkiyahu. I don’t think Nebuchadnezzer was an expert in Hebrew names. The name implies the Justice of God, tzedek, he has a real tzadical name, a real good name. The problem is, that the name was not given to him by a Rabbi or at his Bris, but by the king of Babel. If a king appoints another guy to be the king of something, he expects, what? Loyalty, you won’t rebel against me. What do you think about people who are appointed by someone else, even by their enemies? O.k., that’s relating to Yom Hakadish Haklali –they are not independent, we don’t think they have our best interests in mind, they must flatter the people who appointed them, we are suspicious, we also have another interesting thing, a king who changes someone’s name. Pharao ‘creates’ Eliyakim, the son of Yeoshiahu, after the latter died in a war he had no place to be in – show of hands, do you know about Yehoshiahu, he was a righteous king, but the people didn’t see eye to eye with him. The Egyptians wanted to pass by his country, said – we won’t touch you. The king said – no, but he was killed. His son was placed by the Egyptians in his place. He was not a great king also. The pharaoh changed his name, to show – ‘you are my servant,’ I even gave you a name. The kingdom is not from your own right.Tzidiyahu also, given another identity, he now belongs to
Nebuchadnezzer, a strong or weak person? Weak, someone who would like to cooperate with the enemy. Something that works, or not? Usually not. What kind of option did he have, to say no to the king, he would have been killed? Perhaps he should have said no, or to keep his identity. Who else in Tanach was given a name – that was quick. Yosef. If you take a look at the fourth source, Pharao says – without you no one can move in Egypt. I will call you Tzafna-Paanech, dream-solver, gave Potifer’s wife to him. Joseph doesn’t care, goes out as Joseph. At the age of 30, he stood before Pharao, he still moved through Egypt under his own name. If someone tries to change your name, identity, keep the identity given to you, and know who you are. My first issue with Tzhidkiyahu – he was so weak, subservient, he gave up to Nebuchadnezzer. Still –how does that explain all the events that followed? We come to the description of the siege. Nebuchadnezzer’s army, in the 9th year of his kingdom, the 10th of the 10th month, which is the 10th of Tevet, Tuesday morning, Nebuchadnezzer came – where did he come from. He came with his army and besieged Jerusalem for almost two and a half years, and bread ran out. The wall was broken in, and all the soldiers are coming in. What would you expect from a king to do? To fight, to stand with the people. What does he try to do? Escape through the garden. The Babylonians chased him, they caught up with him around Jericho, and all his soldiers fled, didn’t stay with him, which says something about loyalty – we will get back to that word again and again. They brought him before Nebuchadnezzer, and put him on trial, no – the Hebrew is ‘they spoke judgement with him’ – what does that mean? We’ll see. They slaughtered his children in front of his eyes –a horrible Pasuk, then they blinded him, put him in irons, and brought him into Babylon. What we have to ask is – a. why? What did he do to deserve something like that, he was Nebuchadnezzer’s puppet, what did he do to deserve such a cruel fate? Nebuchadnezzer is not a nice guy, but how can we account for such cruelty. Let’s digress. We need to study a biblical figure in each book. Kings has its own agenda, Jeremiah has its own agenda. Jeremia 37. God says to Jeremiah the prophet, so God said unto Israel, tell this king, Tzidkiyahu, who sends his delegation to the prophet to know what he might say – the Egyptians will go back to Egypt, and the Babylonians are coming. Who do you think was the king who had the foresight to see that Assyria would become the dominant power in the Region. Ahav? Maybe his father. Ahaz or Ahav. We know for sure, that in the beginning, a hundred years before, they say the rise of the Babylonians/Assyrias, before that the Egyptians were the regional power. In the time of Tzidiyahu’s father, Egypt wanted to go through Israel to attack Assyria. The Assyrians were growing stronger and stronger, and the other nations wanted to fight them at first. A sneaky move, perhaps not a nice thing to say. Tzidkiyahu sends a message to the Pharao –help me remove the Babylonian burden from off my shoulders, the Assyrians will leave us alone. God says to Jeremiah – tell this king, don’t fool yourself, the Egyptians will go back to their country, and the Babylonians will return. Now we see why Nebuchadnezzer is so upset. I appointed you, you have a good Jewish name, yet you are the most unloyal person, therefore I will punish you. The Babylonians therefore will return, capture the city, and burn it. So sayeth God. It will not be temporary, they ain’t going anywhere. A terrible description – even if you will able to kill many Babylonians, the injured ones will still burn the city down. Let’s turn to p. 3. A late Midrash, perhaps from the 8th century. But before that let’s make a short summary. If I will ask you to please describe Tzidkiyahu, what will you say? Disloyal, desperate, weak, what else? Opportunistic. Is that a leader? I’m not talking about, is that a Jewish leader? No. Is that a leader needed in that specific time, definitely not? We have a problem with Tzidkiyahu. Don’t leave hating him, though, he was complicated, that’s the word today. We need to understand more before we judge. The Midrash, Eyal Kutchimony. When Nebuchadnezzer exiled the elite, he had some kind of a moment of compassion, a soft spot, he said – if among you is a descendent of Yehoshiayhu, I will appoint him as a ruler. Metanyahu was among them. Nebuchadnezzer asked him – what is your name? Metanya thought to himself, he says – he’s asking me for my name, I’ll give you another, I’ll call myself Tzidkiyahu, so that Tzadikim will be born to me, a dynasty of king David will continue. He didn’t know, Metanya, dind’t know, that by saying Tzidkiyahu, he basically signed his own death sentence, that was the time that God will bring Judgement on them. Nebuchadnezzer doesn’t understand Hebrew, said – I’ll appoint you over Jerusalem, but take an oath, by your soul, you won’t rebel against me. Nebuchadnezzer – no, not your soul, give my your Torah, he sworn him on that. I don’t know where he had it from. Take an oath. Nebuchadnezzer didn’t leave Jerusalem before Tzidkiya conspired to rebel against Nebuchadnezzer. I’m going to develop with you something we are not going to like, but we’ll do it together, so you can’t blame me. What is the theme of the Midrash? Loyalty versus disloyalty. What kind of disloyalty this midrash tries to describe –political disloyalty, or something more than that? We have here a desecration of the name of Hashem. The Ralbag, from the 14th century, a scientist, doctor, Rabbi, said – ‘they talked to him judgement,’ they told him – the judgement of someone who rebels against the king, and who violates his own oath – will be punished severely. Disloyalty is quite bad, but desecration of God? That deserves such harsh punishment. Nebuchadnezzer however is not Jewish, can’t he lie? No. In Joshua, the judges say – concerning the Givonim, we have a commandment to fight against the tribes of Israel, they were afraid, they tricked the Jewish people, the heads of the tribes took an oath not to kill them, why? Because we swore by God. If you take an oath, even if it’s going to work against you, you must know – the desecration of God is the harshest of obligations. What then is the judgment of Tzidkiyahu, a little bit more than desecration – put his family in jeopardy, one more thing, the third commandment, took an oath in vain, one more little thing? Nebuchadnezzer didn’t care about your life, the Torah, the took the Torah, I will rephrase a bit – then we’ll get an answer, but very good, thank you. There is one desecration of the Almighty. If I walk four amot without Kisui rosh, that’s one way of desecration. Here, it’s something that represents what – how many times he says this? Close to 200 times, the connection between the God of Israel, when you lie – what kind of a message do you send? All the uniqueness and the specialness of the Jewish people go. Tzidkiyahu desecrated the name of God not only on an individual level, but on a national level. Harriet, thank you very much for leading the discussion to that area. I was waiting for a question, maybe he did it for the benefit of the Jewish people. From Nebuchadnezzer’s behavior, we can come to an interesting conclusion, he didn’t want to ruin the Temple, he wanted a pawn between him and the Assyrians and the Egyptians. He dind’t kill the ministers of the army, etc. He’s not a Tzadik at all, but under the control of Assyria, maybe the Jews would not suffer so much as under the Egyptians. We don’t know. Back to Jeremiah 37, the prophet says –the kind, Tzidkiyahu did not listen to what God said through Jeremiah, then – he did cooperate with Egypt, then the Egyptians retreated and the Babylonians were coming. The king is under stress, what does he do? Pray for us? Jeremiah comes among the people, he was not yet in prison, a Rabbi not a good job for a Jewish boy you say? Prophet is even more difficult. We mentioned these Psukim, Jeremiah is ordered to tell Tzidkiyahu that the Babylonians will come to conquer. The prophet goes to the land of Binyamin, left Jerusalem, there Jeremiah is caught leaving Jerusalem, probably by one of the officers, he tells him – you are a spy, you are going to the Babylonians, we know – what’s the punishment for a spy? Death. Jeremiah says –I am a prophet, not a spy. An officers says –I heard that many times, you are a spy. He brings Jeremiah to the ministers. We say our time is terrible, read Tanach, not before you go to sleep, but still – they beat Jeremiah up, put him in prison. Jeremiah is in prison for many days. No visitors, lawyers, phonecalls, probably no food, because there was starvation. The kind, Tzidkiyahu brings Jeremiah to his palace in secret, and says – do you have any prophecy for me? Yes, I have, I’m not sure you are going to like it – you are going to be delivered to the hands of Nebuchadnezzer. Again, what’s the problem – he can order Jeremia’s release, he is the king, but he seems afraid of the other ministers, or alternately, the disloyalty he shows is reflected by his own people towards him. Jeremiah says - I told you the truth, are you punishing me? Please, do not put me back in prison, I will die there. Interestingly he says –my prayer ‘will fall’ before you. If we recall, “play for us to God,” Tzidkiyahu beseeched Jeremiah, now it is the other way around. He puts Jeremiah in the courtyard, not in prison, gives him one loaf of bread a day, until what? Until the citty starves. I am not talking about Maadanei Tzidkiyahu – there was no food, everyone starved. Tzidkiyahu knows he will be delived to the king of Babylon, what does he do? Release Jeremiah, put him in the courtyard. That’s all. Jeremiah is not a great student of politics. He asks him – don’t put me in prison. We would tell him – stay there. But he can’t he starts talking to the nation, anyone who would liketo listen. If you do not like to die – go to the Baylonians, he will accpt you. The ministers came to the king, complained – the people, when listening to such a man, to Jeremiah, would not like to join the army. He is weakning the city. What can the king say? He is in your hands, I can’t really tell you what to do. This is a king? He’s a populist. Whatever the poles say, he goes with it – kill Jeremiah when unpopular, save him when he is needed. Zero relations with his ministers, who know he is not the king. So the ministers throw Jeremiah into the hole again, the same courtyard, and the hole has no water in it, only snakes and scorpions. There is cement there, Jeremiah is drowning. There is a man in the king’s house, the king doesn’t know about this. A servant of the king comes to him – see, they threw him into a well, you didn’t save him, you need to do something about it. After five psukim, he said – take thirty people – you can imagine how weak they were – so they do it, he climbs from the pit.
After Tzidkiyahu saves Jeremiah, without telling his ministers – he says, I need your advice. Jeremiah says – whatever I say, I’ll be in trouble. If I tell you the truth you will kill me, otherwise it will not help. Tzidkiyahu is taking an oat – nothing will happen to you. You’re going to trust him? Jeremiah knows he has no other options. He will tell Tidzkiyahu what he must say. We are reminded of the Givonim, through the reference to The God of Israel. He says – if you go out with a white flag, the Babylonians will accept your surrender. Otherwise, they will burn it and you will not escape. Tzidkiyahu says to Jeremiah, the Jews that already went to the Babylonians will kill me – why? Your disloyalty to Nebuchadnezzer, many of them died becaue of the siege. Jeremiah says –listen to me for your own good. Who said ‘Vatechi Nafshi” – after the struggle wit hthe angel, the birth that Sarah gave. I am not speaking as a prophet, but a friend, do it soon, or all I foretold will happen. Everything will be destroyed, your own people will betray you. Tzidkiyahu said – no one can know, on pain of death. What would Tzidkiyahu do? Surrender. But when the ministers will question you – he will lie, he only cares about himself. Jeremiah says – I only wish not to be put in prison. Tzidkiyahu did not follow through, escaped, we know what happened. Turn please to P. 8, in Chronicles, which is a nice book on Yahuda, 39 yers, but he did evil in the eyes of god, he did not submit himself to the prophesy showed him. He disobeyed the king, and perjured himself before god. He strengthens his art. Moses told him – stop it, let us go, for your own good. Before we go to Yekhezkel, think about what we learnt tonight, Tzidkiyahu beside his lack of leadership, and I don’t know what came first – selfishness, disloyalty, etc. If we have a psychology in the it may help. But what is the basic fact here? Tzidkiyahu forgot what it means to be a good leaders. He doesn’t believe in Jeremiah’s prophesy, doesn’t care about the people, and he descrates the name of the Shem at the national level.
Yechezkel. You should write the esse of the way. This is mentiond with the destruction, but also yom Kipur- a day of atonement. I will take a small midrash – what is the real requirement in Yom Kiput – Tshuva, Kipur, Heshbon Nefesh, you need to really look inside, to see. I would like to suggest the following idea for the 10th of Tebte. A siege is a struggle, you can overcome it, if you fight, or you surrender, go out. Tzidkiyahu tried looking for a third option, though it did not exist. In Israel there are many lines, some see two, some see one. What is going on in life –you need to make a decision. Jeremiah told him what? One option. Tzidkiyahu almost looked for opportunities, an opportunist. No – face the reality, Yom Kipur is this – you can’t hide, it’s you and God, that’s it. The 10th of Tevet, not such a severe fast, as kipur or 9th of Av, it’s a very meaningful fasting – you lose your sight, as Tzidkiyahu, lost your ability to see into yourself. The 10th of Tevet maybe, though it is a short fast day, not to really think of the siege, but of facing ourselves, once and for all, to face ourselves, and to really look inside, and see what we can do, how do we fulfill the words of the prophets, which are for our own good, ‘and your soul shall live’ – the good of the home, the nation, how do we raise ourselves above our own interest, and look at the interests of the nation. That’s it, good night.

מתוך האירוע:
In Preparation for the 10th of Tevet
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