Melachim Alef perek 2

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz records a remarkable insight referring to perek 2. When David Hamelech was on his death bed, he instructed his son Shlomo (Hamelech) about how to treat Shimmi ben Gerah who earlier, had cursed David. Shlomo was not to kill Shimmi outright, but to cause Shimmi to create his own death. The honor and prestige of the new king would be under threat if one who cursed the king went completely unpunished. What did Shlomo Hamelech do? He issued a royal decree to Shimmi ben Gerah that he must not leave Yerushalayim at the cost of being killed for treason. Shimmi listened to this and agreed. Three years later, two of Shimmi’s servants ran away, and Shimmi went out of Yerushalayim to bring them back. When Shlomo Hamelech heard this, he had Shimmi killed, a fate that Shimmi accepted. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz asks a penetrating question. Shimmi ben Gerah was a holy person; he headed the Sanhedrin, and, Yerushalayim is the holiest city in the world. Staying within Yerushalayim seems to be an extremely easy challenge! What was Shlomo’s motive in ordering Shimmi to stay within Yerushalyim, and why did Shimmi not succeed in complying with this command?

Rav Shmulevitz answers that it is human nature that man cannot be or feel limited and constrained. A man cannot be kept in a box. Thus, as soon as Shlomo Hamelech told Shimmi that he had to stay within Yerushalayim forever, even the holy city of Yerushalayim became a prison for him, since he was not allowed out. Shlomo Hamelech knew that at some point Shimmi would have to break out; he did, and Shlomo had him killed. In other words, man cannot be constricted and ‘held in’ for this is like death. This is one of the reasons why the Rambam writes (Hilchos Mattanos Aniyim 8:10) ‘There is no mitzvah as great as redeeming captives,’ for constriction is death, and saving someone from captivity means essentially bringing him back to life again.

The idea behind this seems to originate from Adam having been created with huge dimensions (the Gemara says that he reached the Heavens when he stood up straight). Adam was created physically limitless to reflect that he was spiritually limitless too; his soul was invested in him from Hashem Himself and has spiritual power that is way above the limits and constraints of our physical world. And, as the Ramchal implies in Derech Hashem, every person in Klal Yisrael has some vestige of the potential of Adam. This is indicated by the fact the ‘Adam’ (man) has the same letters as the word ‘Me’od’ (much), for man is born with great potential to surpass all expectations. We are limitless; may we recognize our capabilities.