I Samuel – Chapter 20

Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh...

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

David ran to Jonathan. “Uh, Jonathan? Your father is still trying to kill me.” “No, he’s not – he promised me he’d stop!” “I promise you, he’s still after me! He just didn’t tell you because he knows we’re friends!” “Okay, David, what do you want me to do?” “Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh. I’ll hide in the field on the day after tomorrow. If your father asks where I am, please tell him that you gave me permission to visit my family rather than attend his feast. If he’s okay with it, we’ll know that everything’s all right, but if he gets mad, you’ll see he’s out to get me. But how will you get word to me?” “That’s easy, David. I’ll go shoot some arrows into the field. If I tell the boy that the arrows are to the side, that means everything’s all right. If I say that they are beyond him, then run away. All I ask is that when you become king, you extend your protection to my descendants.” And so, on the first day of Rosh Chodesh, Shaul noticed David’s absence from his banquet. He didn’t say anything because he considered the possibility that David may have become ritually unclean and had not yet been purified. When David was absent on the second day, Shaul became quite suspicious. He asked Jonathan, who told him the “cover story” about David attending a family feast. Shaul became enraged that Jonathan would help David overthrow the throne. This time he threw his spear at Jonathan. (Missed again.) Jonathan ran to give David the signal to run away. They were able to say a quick good-bye, swearing a covenant of peace between their families forevermore. If the story sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the Shabbos Haftarah whenever Rosh Chodesh falls on Sunday. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos uses David and Jonathan’s selfless friendship as an example of a pure, unconditional love.

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