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The Shrewdest Jew's Last Will and Testament

Before His Suicide, The Wisest Jew of His Era Offered Three Life-Altering Messages

    Rabbi YY Jacobson

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  • May 21, 2015
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  • 3 Sivan 5775

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Class Summary:

He was one of the most brilliant men of the Tanach, and one of its most tragic personalities. In his prime time he was considered the greatest Jew of his era, yet he ended up killing himself.

The Talmud tells us: Three things did Achitofel command his children before his passing: 1. Do not enter into quarrels. 2. Do not rebel against the sovereignty of David. 3. If the weather is clear on the holiday of Shavuot, plant wheat.

If these are his dying words surely they must contain his greatest and most profound insights gleaned from a lifetime rich in experience. What is the significance of these three ideas that warrant the fact that they are his last charge to his children? What is their underlying unifying theme? How do these three statements sum up his life?

Also, what does he mean, “If the weather on Shavous is clear, plant wheat?” Was this simple agricultural advice? If yes, what does it mean? And why did he decide to say it now moments before his death?

In a letter on the eve of Shavauos 1949, the Lubavitcher Rebbe offered a brilliant and extraordinary explanation.

Dedicated in honor of R. Berlow with gratitude for his tireless dedication to helping people.

Three Instructions

He was one of the most brilliant men of the Tanach, and one of its most tragic personalities. In his prime time he was considered the greatest Jew of his era, yet he ended up killing himself. His final will to his children moments before he strangled himself is perplexing.

Achitofel of the city of Giloh, lived in the times of King David. (We will explore his life shortly). Before he committed suicide, he imparted three instructions to his children.

The Talmud relates the story:[1]

תנו רבנן, שלשה דברים צוה אחיתופל את בניו: אל תהיו במחלוקת, ואל תמרדו במלכות בית דוד, ויום טוב של עצרת ברור - זרעו חטים.

Our Rabbis have taught: Three things did Achitofel command his children before his passing: 1. Do not enter into quarrels. 2. Do not rebel against the sovereignty of David. 3. If the weather is clear on the holiday of Shavuot, plant wheat.

We are struck by three obvious questions:

1) The first and second pieces of advice are redundant. Surely if one avoids all quarrels, he will avoid rebellion against the kingship of David. Why would Achitofel repeat himself? And why is it considered a separate instruction from the first one?

2) Achitofel was a brilliant man, the Tanach describes his advice as being Divine. He was considered the wisest man of his time. If these are his dying words surely they must contain his greatest and most profound insights gleaned from a lifetime rich in experience. What is the significance of these three ideas that warrant the fact that they are his last charge to his children? What is their underlying unifying theme? How do these three statements sum up his life?

3) What does he mean, “If the weather on Shavous is clear, plant wheat?” Was this simple agricultural advice? If yes, what does it mean? And why did he decide to say it now moments before his death?

For this, some historical background is necessary.

Who Was Achitofel?

Achitofel was born in the Judean town of Giloh, a small suburb of Jerusalem, and lived in the times of King David (David lived approximately from 1040 till 970 BCE). He was a man of phenomenal talent, a brilliant Torah Scholar, a world-class politician, a thinker and intellectual whose advice was sought after by the greatest men of his time, and ultimately, he was a king-maker. At a very young age, Achitofel was already the president of the Jewish Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin (the Sanhedrin was the body of 70 Torah scholars responsible for the transmission of the Torah, and for the spiritual welfare of the people).[2] Even among those towering figures, Achitofel stood out.

The Tanach itself testifies to his intellectual greatness with a compliment, unparalleled in all of scripture:

And the counsel of Achitofel which he counseled in those days was as if a man inquired of the word of G-d, so was all the counsel of Achitofel.” (Samuel II 16:23).[3]

Achitofel rose to become a man of immeasurable influence and power as the chief advisor of King David. In the book of Chronicles when all of King David’s staff and personnel are listed, only he is titled ‘yoetz hamelech,’ the king’s personal counsel.

And Achitofel was the king's counselor, and Chushai the Archite was the king's friend.[4]

Advisor Turned Traitor

But from being David’s most trusted advisor and confidant, Achitofel turned into a traitor.

This happened when Absalom (Avshalom), one of David’s most charismatic sons, begins a massive rebellion against his father. Absalom wanted to usurp the kingdom. Quickly, he gains much popular support and actually forces his father David to flee his own palace and his capital Jerusalem. Achitofel joins the rebellious son Absalom and becomes his number one advisor.

What led a man like Achitofel to treachery? Why did he leave David, the man who gave him so much status and power?

There are two possible answers. The Talmud suggests[5] that Achitofel felt that he was supposed to be the king. (After all, the king sought his counsel.) He was supporting Absalom because he was hoping that in the turmoil that inevitably would follow the coup, he would seize power for himself and become king.

(In a sense, the Talmud says, his hunch was correct. But not for himself, rather for his grandson, Solomon, who would one day become the king.[6] Sometimes, people feel things, and they might be correct, but the timing is not right.)

The Midrash gives a much more sinister motivation.[7] The Talmud states that Achitofel’s daughter was none other than David’s beloved wife Bat-Sheva. Bat-Sheva had been married to a warrior named Uriah the Chiti but David had Uriah sent to the front lines where he was killed in battle and then married Bat-Sheva himself, an act he never got over till the end of his life.

David was reprimanded by the prophet Nosson for his actions and spent the rest of his life repenting. “My sin stand before me constantly,” he says in Psalms 51. David fasted twenty-two years to gain atonement for this sin. But Achitofel never forgave him. Now he found his chance for revenge.[8]

When David is fleeing Jerusalem from his son Absalom’s mutiny, he is more afraid of Achitofel than he is of Absalom. He prays to G-d to corrupt the advice of Achitofel. He does not just rely on prayer, he also sends his most devoted friend Chushai the Archite as a spy into Absalom’s camp just to ‘frustrate the counsel of Achitofel.’

Two Articles of Advice

Achitofel gives Absalom two pieces of strategic and shrewd advice:[9]

The first was ingenious in its brutality. In the words of the Tanach: "Have intimate relations with your father's [David] concubines that he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father; then the hands of all that are with you will be strengthened.

“And they spread for Absalom a tent upon the roof; and Absalom had relations with his father's concubines before the eyes of all Israel.”

Until that point, the supporters of Absalom worried that he might ultimately feel compassion for his father and back down from the revolt. While he might be forgiven by his father, they would not enjoy forgiveness and their fate would be destined to a tragic end. This act of publicly disgracing his father’s intimate life made the break between David and Absalom irrevocable. It was an ugly and clever political move that proved in the most public way Absalom’s seriousness and intentions. After that, there was no turning back. Absalom was beyond the point of return. This would secure him the support of the people who craved David’s downfall.

The second piece of advice was that Achitofel and 12,000 men would pursue David immediately as he and his men were exhausted from escaping Jerusalem. David’s men would escape, and Achitofel would kill David.

“I will come upon him while he is weary and weak-handed, and I will startle him: and all the people that are with him will flee, and I will smite the king alone.”

Absalom likes the sound of this, but decides to get Chushai’s take on it before making an ultimate decision. Chushai, David’s loyal friend who was sent by David as a spy to try to foil the plots, knows that Achitofel is right, so he suggests the exact opposite: He plays on Absalom’s arrogance and confidence in his popularity, suggesting that Absalom gather a massive army “from Dan in the north, until Be’er Sheva in the south” and together to march on David’s soldiers slowly and methodically. Absalom accepts Chushai’s advice. This gives David time to reorganize himself and his people. David’s life is saved. Absalom is killed. David returns to the throne.

A Tragic End

Achitofel, with his infallible political acumen, is certain that by failing to follow his advice Absalom is destroying himself and his kingship. David would prevail and Achitoful would be killed. He therefore turns to his last resort: Suicide.

“And Achitofel saw that his counsel was not done, and he saddled his donkey, and he arose, and he went to his house, to his city, and he gave charge to his household and he strangled himself, and he died, and was buried in the sephulcre of his father.”

Achitofel’s suicide was not the frenzied and blind madness of a sudden attack of despair, rather it was calculated, methodical, patient and deliberate. The Tanach states clearly that “he gave charge to his household.”

But what did he tell them?

As we recall, the Talmud states that Achetofel told them three things: 1. Do not enter into quarrels. 2. Do not rebel against the sovereignty of David. 3. If the weather is clear on the holiday of Shavuot, plant wheat.

Now that we have the context, his second command ‘Do not rebel against the Kingdom of David’ is well understood: Achitofel is regretting his part in the rebellion. But our other questions still remain: What is the underlying thread in his three statements? Why the redundancy? What does he mean when he says, “If the weather is clear on Shavuos, plant wheat?’” Why did he choose these three statements as his final message before dying?

In the midst of the uproar of civil war, seconds before he strangles himself, Achitofel has nothing better to say than a farming tip about planting wheat? Is this the final message coming from the most brilliant man of his day, whose advice was seen as second to G-d?

Three Arenas of Human Ambition

There are three arenas of human ambition. There are three fields that man sees as truly valuable and worth devoting his life to. All of our goals and dreams can be placed in one of these categories. In the words of our Sages in Ethics of the Fathers, they are the ‘three crowns’ that every man seeks to obtain and be crowned by.[10]

1) Knowledge, wisdom, study, academia, discovery, and information. This is called the “crown of Torah.”

2) Spirituality, service, dedication, self-improvement, refinement, personal growth, deep connection to G-d and to the higher consciousness. This is called “the crown of Priesthood,” as the priests represented service.

3) Leadership, influence, power. This is called “the crown of royalty.”

Two Roads

These are the three destinations. But there are two paths, two roads that lead there. These two roads are very different. They are two approaches how one chooses to live his or her life.

One path is based exclusively on my own intellect and my own instincts and feelings. The axis and basis upon which all is founded in my own mind and heart. First I will explore, then if I am satisfied, I will commit. And then if I am disenchanted, I will simply un-commit, and continue searching. In this philosophy, the final decider is always my own mind, my own subjective self. I determine what is true, what is false; what is good, and what is evil.

Another approach is one in which one sees himself or herself as a carrier and an ambassador of truths and tradition which transcend his or her own identity. The bedrock of this person’s philosophy is surrender to a greater truth, to values and standards that are beyond and before me. Only after this, will I begin my own investigation and search.

While the first person asks “What do I ask of life?” the second person asks “what does life ask of me?”

Achitofel’s Great Realization

Achitofel lived his entire life based on the first path. He always acted in the way he saw and understood best. Never did he surrender his mind to a greater truth.[11] Never did he say ‘I don’t understand but I will do it anyway.’ Theoretically, it is a path that can work, yet now, on his death bed, as his entire life passed before his mind’s eye, he is telling his children that he has erred and that they not learn from his mistake.[12]

In the words of the Ethics of our Father: “One whose fear of sin takes precedence to his wisdom, his wisdom endures. However, one whose wisdom takes precedence to his fear of sin, his wisdom does not endure.”[13]

Why? Because In life, you must search, ask, inquire, seek, and yearn to understand, internalize and experience. Yet if your own identity remains the exclusive barometer of right and wrong, of good and evil, of happiness and sadness, you may end up in the gutter. Even the greatest and most fertile mind can be biased and self-destructive. Only when your self-expression is founded on the foundations of absolute truths which transcend you, will you be certain that your own search will be expansive and successful and will bring you to great places.

Saying, "I won't do it until I fully understand" is like refusing to take the medicine the doctor has prescribed until you understand exactly how antibiotics are made and how they neutralize bacteria, or refusing to breathe until you've studied how the lungs function and why your body requires oxygen. Once you know the doctor is trustworthy and knowledgeable, you take his prescription even if you don’t understand how and why, and even if you are not in the mood of it. In life too, once you can appreciate that the Creator of the universe who loves you unconditionally and wants you to be the happiest and the most fulfilled human being possible has granted you His prescription for your life, you embrace it, even if at the moment you don’t understand the reasons and benefits.

This, then, was Achitofel’s mistake. On his deathbed he tried to correct it for his children’s sake. He told them three things, corresponding to the “three crowns”—the crown of wisdom, priesthood, and royalty.

Wisdom Follows Humility

Let’s begin with the third:

“If the weather is clear on Shavous, plant wheat.” This was his inimitable way of saying that the truest and profoundest wisdom is that wisdom which is founded on the acceptance of the source of all wisdom.

“If the weather is clear on Shavous, plant wheat.” Wheat is distinguished as human food, as opposed to barley which is considered animal fodder.[14] The human being is distinguished over the rest of the animal world only by virtue of his intellectual capacity. Hence, wheat is symbolic of the intellect. The Tree of Knowledge was, according to one opinion in the Talmud, a stalk of wheat (no, not an apple). That is why it is called the Tree of Knowledge, because a child’s mind develops enough to say ‘father’ only after eating grain.[15] (The Hebrew word for wheat, Chitah, has the numerical value of 22, symbolizing the 22 letters of the Torah.)

So Achetofel was telling his children: “If the weather is clear on Shavous, plant wheat.” Only if the Shavuos energy is sparkling clear, will your wheat grow well.

What happened on Shavuos? It was not that the Jewish people received the Torah at that time; the wisdom and ideas of Torah were studied by the Patriarchs and generations of Jews before Sinai.[16] What occurred at Sinai was that the Jewish people embraced the yoke of Torah; they entered into a covenant with the Almighty and they committed themselves to the Torah.

So Achetofel said, if you want your wheat to grow well, if you want your philosophies and value systems to persevere, make sure “your Shavuos is clear,” your commitment to Torah is unshakeable. Only then will your wheat grow tall and satiating.

If the mind is left to its own devices, it can come up with the most perverted and grotesque ideas, all justified in the name of rationality. Only a mind which is built on the foundations of Divine truth is protected from developing insanely immoral ideas and is capable of reaching tremendous heights. (Of course, conversely, a mind that does not seek and question and trusts any “doctor,” even if the doctor may be a killer, will damage himself and others. This is what some religions have produced over our bloody history).

The Path to Royalty

Achetofel addressed also the “crown of royalty.” ‘Do not rebel against the Kingdom of David.” Here too he was addressing two paths of leadership. Achetofel throughout his life believed that the primary quality of a leader is his confidence in his own skills and decisions. David believed that although a leader must possess much confidence, the primary trait of a leader must be his absolute humility and submission to a higher cause.

This was the paradox of David. He was a fearless warrior, yet when we read the book of Psalms, we observe his profound vulnerability and humility.

“I am a worm and not a man; a reproach of man, despised by peoples. All who see me will mock me; they will open their lips, they will shake their head.” (Psalms 22:7-8)

In David’s mind, the power of the king stemmed from his powerlessness. It was not his ego which conferred so much power on him, but rather his complete submission to G-d and to his people which granted him the power. That is why David completes his life on the holiday of Shavuot, the day of commitment and surrender.

That is what made David unique. Saul sinned and David sinned. Saul lost his kingship, not David. Why? Saul justified his actions. David immediately acknowledged his error and did not stop repenting. His readiness to be vulnerable and accountable—just like his great grandfather Judah who immediately confessed publically that it was he who cohabited with Tamar—is what made him most worthy of the mantle of royalty.

At his deathbed, Achetofel finally embraced the path of David. He realized that when a king, a president, a leader is arrogant, he can become a very dangerous man.[17]

The Path to Spirituality

He also advised them in the area of service, “the crown of priesthood.” “Do not enter a quarrel.”

Achetofel, during his lifetime, believed that the path to spiritual refinement and transcendence needed to be paved exclusively by a person’s own ideas and feelings. You define your own spirituality.

Yet at his deathbed he proclaimed: “do not enter a quarrel.” The Talmud states that the origin of all quarrels was the rebellion of Korach against Moses and Aaron. Korach had a valid and rational claim: “The entire nation is equally holy, and G-d dwells amongst them, so why do you Moses and Aaron, take positions of power and spiritual leadership?”

Logically, Korach had a point. There was only one flaw in his argument: G-d said otherwise. Serving G-d must be about G-d, not about me. If I want to touch G-d, I need to surrender my own conception of spirituality and sublimity to G-d’s will.

But that was the something that Korach, like Achitofel, could not accept. On his deathbed, he tells his children, do not engage in quarrel. In the arena of service too, you must surrender your sense of egotism. A spiritual ego is still an ego.

This was Achetofel’s great message: Let your creativity soar, your mind blossom, and your individuality shine. But if you wish to truly become a great person, ensure that it is all founded on the absolute principles of Divine ethics and morality, then they will serve as the permanent “lighthouses” which ensure that the ship does not get lost in the endless tumultuous waters of the ocean.

(This essay is based on a letter by the Lubavitcher Rebbe from the eve of Shavuos 1949, published in Igros Kodesh vol. 3, p. 490).

_______________

[1] Bava Basra 147a

[2] According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 69b, 106b) Achitofel died at the age of 33. In those times, people married and had children very early.

[3] If you notice in the verse, the word ish is actually missing from the written text (kesiv) and only inserted by the Masoretic tradition (kri.) Radak explains that this is telling us that asking Achitofel advice was not like seeking human wisdom but actually it was the equivalent of seeking Divine wisdom!)

[4] Chronicles I 27:33

[5] Sanhedrin 101b

[6] Sanhedrin ibid.

[7] Yalkut Shimoni, Shmuel 151. Cf. Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi, 1160 – 1235).

[8] This also explains why Achitofel wanted to kill David himself as he describes in Chapter Samuel II 17, 1-4.

[9] Samuel II ch. 16-17

[10] Ethics 4:13

[11] See Tosefos Chagigah 15b. Rashbam Bava Basra 147a.

[12] See Rashbam Bava Basra 147a

[13] Ethics 3:9

[14] Talmud Pesachim 3b

[15] Berachos 40a

[16] See Talmud Yuma 28a

[17] See Yuma 22b

Please leave your comment below!

  • מק

    מלכה קליין -1 year ago

    מיוחד מאוד מתענג כלפעם מחדש

    מורה צפת

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  • DB

    Danny Bergson -1 year ago

    Thank you

    Wow the Rebbe's insight into seemingly 

    obscure aspects of tanach are so compelling. Thank you Rabbi Yy for as always articulating the rebbe That we can appreciate 

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • LC

    Le Chaim -1 year ago

    Powerful...

    Very powerful. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • G

    gershon -3 years ago

    I looked it at the Rebbe's letter. The Rebbe's nekudas hachochma is brilliant and the binah that you developed from it is exquisite. 
     
    Question: How do you relate Kesser Shem Tov to Kabolas Ol!

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    • Anonymous -3 years ago

      Shem tov comes from action; that's what gives people a "good name," a holy name, a good reputation.
      Not the x-ray inside their soul, but how they love in maaseh.
      Which is the essence of kabalas ol. boots on the ground.

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • DB

    Dov Ber -5 years ago

    Who Was Achisofel?

    I enjoyed listening to your talk on Achitofel and his 3 statements, and then reading the article that went along with it. 
    I was wondering why Avsholom didn't follow him, especially as it was known that his advise was divine like (17:23). Why did Chushai and his advise attract him?
    The Malbim (16:34) explains the psychological side to it. Avsholom didn't want Dovid dead, and didn't have hate for him. He just wanted to be king and would do what was needed to achieve that. Achitofel gave him sound advise but didn't address the person, only the question. Avsholom identified with Chushai because neither wanted Dovid dead. His advise was more in line with Avsholoms thinking so he accepted it. 
    Maybe this fits in with the theme of the Rebbes letter that Achitofel's genious was purely intellectual without any surrender. So he was not able to give an answer tailored for a specific person.
     
    Many thanks for all you do.
     
     

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  • H

    hindel -5 years ago

    kabalas ol

    So quick question, is there a reason you left out in your written email that the keser shem tov actually surpasses all three crowns?  Or is kabbolas Ol, the kesser shem tov and therefore the underlying thread that connects all three parts of achitofel's will. if you have a moment.

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    • Anonymous -5 years ago

      I guess I could have put it in; but yes, kabalas ol is the keser shem tov!

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Q

    Quaron -5 years ago


    I'm very excited to read about the Mitzvah of this magnitude. It's food to be accepted & appreciated.

    Shabbat Shalom

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  • Z

    Zev -5 years ago

    Quite enigmatic

    It's very hard to understand how could someone like Achitofel, having lived his entire life being committed to "the first path" of never surrenering his mind to a higher truth was able to reach such prominence? Why was he chosen by Dovid ha-Melech to be his chief advisor? What kind of adviсe could he give, considering his innate arrogance, haughtiness and unabridged self-confidence? Did not the rest of Sanhedrin sense Achitofel's fundamental character flaw? If they did sense it, why would they elevate him to being a Nosi? And finally, how could such a person merit what Tanach describes as: And the counsel of Achitofel which he counseled in those days was as if a man inquired of the word of G-d, so was all the counsel of Achitofel.” (Samuel II 16:23)? 

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    • Anonymous -5 years ago

      Apparently, his mind was something beyond what we can imagine. His wisdom and brilliance elevated him to great states of awareness and truth. He was not just an arrogant, pompous, and haughty idiot; he was truly a great man, whose mind brought him profound Divine awareness. Meaning he was a real master of Torah.
       
      And that is exactly the point. Ultimately, he lacked the Kabalas Ol, the surrender and commitment to something beyond him. He could get away with it, because he understood so much, but it did him in at the end of the day.
       
      A few examples on different levels. Shaul Hamelech is deemed the great Jew who never sinned and was full pf purity and goodness. Our Sages like a child who never sinned. He lets the animals of Amalek live to bring them as an offering, exaplining to Shmuel that these are good animals to use as a Karban for Hashem. Shmuel tells him: "Better to obey than to offer a good offering; better to listen than to offer the fat of rams." Shaul was serving G-d with his brilliant intellect, but lacked the "bitul" of Kabalas Ol which David Hamelech had. (See at length Likkutei Sichos vol. 3 Parshas Zachor, and vol. 1 Shmini).
      This does not cut down Shaul and his greatness; he was the first appointee of G-d as king. But it underscores a flaw.
      Same with Shlomo and the many wives. Yochanan Kohen Gadol who is a High Priest for 80 years and becomes a Tzedukei. Elisha ben Avuya is the Rebbe of Reb Meir, one of the greatest sages ever (Eiruvin 13b), yet he too forfeits it all. (With this the Rebbe explains the story in Menachos 29b on Moshe and Reb Akiva. Shabbos Shmini 5726.)

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • Anonymous -6 years ago

    Yitzchok S. D. Ber

    Thank you for this excellent essay. Best one in a long time.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • AY

    A Yid -8 years ago

    you could ask the conept of "V'havyyeh ito - Halacha komoso," davka dovid. .limud with bitul

    Bichlal similar inyan could be the contrast between Doeg and Dovid. Doeg big talmid chochom etc
    Sof sof both achitofel and doeg are rosh yeshiva's who are arrogent and filled with themselves.
    Two prime examples of the essence of your piece
    Mit sechel anushi ken men farforren gohr vyyt...

    You can take the kernel of this one and adapt to the doeg story. Illuminate it with episodes of doegs life... Tanach stuff is always interesting. ..

    Thanks a lot for this one
    it was a great shiur

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • MZ

    Mendel Zilberberg -8 years ago

    the theme in possibly encompassed in -- Na'asheh V'nishmah first we will do ( follow) and then seek to understand -- as our actions are based on reliance on the Torah and not dependent on our understanding or agreement -- it is only thereafter that we seek to understand.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • YF

    Yehudis Feinstein -9 years ago

    Bs"D
    This is Torah. This is so, so good and so necessary to learn and learn again. It's hard to be human. We are so influenced by the gashmius. And we are so capable of erring. It's scarey to be human. What can one do! One can hold onto the Torah with all one's might and with all one's bittul. And one can daven to Hashem for clarity and submissiveness. Good Yom Tov for everyone.

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  • S

    sunnycloud -9 years ago

    I had to read many of the sentences more than once in order to sink in. This like many other stories can be subjective which begs each of us to wisely think, and not just accept.

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

Shavuos Essay

Rabbi YY Jacobson
  • May 21, 2015
  • |
  • 3 Sivan 5775
  • |
  • 5050 views
  • Comment

Dedicated in honor of R. Berlow with gratitude for his tireless dedication to helping people.

Class Summary:

He was one of the most brilliant men of the Tanach, and one of its most tragic personalities. In his prime time he was considered the greatest Jew of his era, yet he ended up killing himself.

The Talmud tells us: Three things did Achitofel command his children before his passing: 1. Do not enter into quarrels. 2. Do not rebel against the sovereignty of David. 3. If the weather is clear on the holiday of Shavuot, plant wheat.

If these are his dying words surely they must contain his greatest and most profound insights gleaned from a lifetime rich in experience. What is the significance of these three ideas that warrant the fact that they are his last charge to his children? What is their underlying unifying theme? How do these three statements sum up his life?

Also, what does he mean, “If the weather on Shavous is clear, plant wheat?” Was this simple agricultural advice? If yes, what does it mean? And why did he decide to say it now moments before his death?

In a letter on the eve of Shavauos 1949, the Lubavitcher Rebbe offered a brilliant and extraordinary explanation.

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