Thursday, August 24, 2006

rebelling against a navi (I)

The parsha of melech warns a Jewish king not to deviate from “the mitzvah” (17:20), meaning (as Rashi explains) not to ignore even a small command issued by a Navi. Indeed, we know that Shaul lost his position for failing to follow the command of Shmuel, and Yoshiyahu met his tragic death for ignoring Yirmiyahu’s warning to let the Egyptian army cross through Eretz Yisrael. Later, in the parsha of the Navi, (18:19), the Torah prohibits any member of Klal Yisrael from ignoring the words of a Navi. In light of this issur on any member of Klal Yisrael to disobey a Navi, why does the Torah place a separate issur on the king? And why in the case of Shaul did he suffer only a loss of his status when the punishment for ignoring a Navi is death? The Minchas Chinuch suggests that the issur of disobeying a Navi applies only to a rebellious act done in defiance of the words of the Navi. Merely failing to fulfill the words of the Navi properly is not an act of rebellion. However, the Torah applies a higher standard to the leadership of the Jewish people and demands that a king not err even in this regard.
The Minchas Chinuch proves his point by asking why any violation of any issur in the Torah is not also punishable as a violation of the words of the greatest navi, Moshe Rabeinu? Obviously, Minchas Chinuch writes, we cannot define any transgression as an overt act of rebellion against the Navi. R’ Soloveitchik offered a different solution to this question raised by the M.C. Although Moshe was indeed the greatest of prophets, that does not mean every charge he gave had the status of prophecy. Torah and mitzvos are not words of nevuah, but are a separate cheftza shel Torah, a distinctly different form of Divine communication. It is only words of nevuah, not words of Torah, which the prohibition of rebelling against the Navi addresses.
To be continued, bli neder…


  1. jeffrey smith9:08 PM

    Perhaps the additional issur for the king is linked to the fact that the king's failure to comply with the commands of a navi implicates, in some measure, the entire nation, and furthermore is a prominent example that might encourage others to ignore the navi?

  2. yehuda2:14 PM

    Can you explain R' Solavacicks position further?Does he mean to say part of Torah was transmitted to Moshe not as nevueh?I don't understand how something spoken by hashem to moshe could be considered not neveuh.