Sefer Baal Shem Tov
The Baal Shem Tov’s Teachings on the Torah
“You must then appoint the King whom G-d your L-d shall choose; from among your brothers you shall set King over yourself.” (Devarim 17:15)
The King of Israel is the heart of Israel. This explains the verse: “How can I go, for Saul will hear and kill me?” (I Samuel 16:2).1 Why was he scared to go? He could have gone in secret. What he should have said was: “How can I return, after I have anointed someone else as King? Saul will kill me.”
The reason is because the King is the heart of Israel, and the heart hears,2 that is, it understands.3 This is what Samuel meant: “How can I go, for Saul will hear?” Since he was still the King of Israel before David’s anointment, “he will hear.” That is, he will understand the purpose of my going, “and he will kill me.” However, he was not afraid to return, because by then David had been appointed King, and Saul would not understand or hear,4 for certainly Samuel acted in secret.
Degel Machane Ephraim, Va’eschanan
1When G-d told the Prophet Samuel to go to Bethlehem and anoint David as King instead of Saul, Samuel expressed fear that Saul would hear of his trip and try to kill him.
2Based upon I Kings 3:9, where King Solomon prays: “And now, O’ L-rd my G-d, You have made Your servant King instead of David my father; and I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in..Give, then, Your servant a listening heart, to judge your people..”
3In a related teaching, the Teshuos Chen writes in the name of the Baal Shem Tov: “The king is the aspect of the head of the world, and is able to know the thoughts of people.”
4The Teshuos Chen writes: “Since he anointed David, so that he would be the head, Saul immediately lost the power to know people’s thoughts.”
Translation and commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore.
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