web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Adam, King David, And The Gift Of Giving


Time: 12:18 a.m.

Place: Abba’s bedroom

Date: October 4, 2006

Just a month after being diagnosed with cancer, and now practically confined to a bed as a method of pain control, I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up the Maharal’s Drush Na’eh l’Shabbos T’shuvah, which I had been hoping to read prior to Yom Kippur.

Soon after I picked up the book (it is included in the Maharal’s Be’er ha’Golah), my daughter, Yael, age ten, came out of her bedroom, complaining of a cough that was keeping her awake. I managed to get her some cough medicine and was about to send her back to bed, but then remembered a midrash that Yael had heard a few months earlier but was puzzled over, one that – and I don’t think it was coincidence – was the very same one that the Maharal just analyzed toward the beginning of the derash I was presently learning.

I asked Yael if she could spare a few minutes before going back to sleep to see if we could learn a little more about the meaning of that midrash, and she responded in the affirmative. I don’t think there could have been a better moment of propinquity.

The midrash concerns Adam, who was to live for a thousand years, but gives seventy of those years to King David, who was originally to live for only a few hours. The actual text comes from the Yalkut Shimoni, Beresheis, chapter 5, remez 41, and runs as follows:

God passed all the forthcoming generations before Adam, and Adam saw that King David was only allotted three hours to live.

Adam: Master of the World, is there a remedy for this?

God: This is indeed what I had in mind.

Adam: How many years of life have I been allotted?

God: One thousand years.

Adam: May I give a gift?

God: Yes.

Adam: Give seventy of my years to him.

What did Adam do? He brought a parchment and wrote the terms of his gift on it, and it was sealed by God, [the angel] Metatron, and Adam.

Adam: Master of the World, great will be [David's] kingdom and the songs that will be given in this seventy-year gift that [David] should live [for these seventy years] and make music before You.

Essential to understanding the meaning of this midrash is the expression of the idea of “perfection” numerically, in both the numbers 7 and 1,000. Seven, of course, is the more famous number, as Shabbos, the holiest day of the week, is the seventh day of the week, and the holiest year of the agricultural cycle is the seventh year, or sh’mitta, during which the land lies fallow.

But the number 1,000 is also significant, as in Tehillim 90, in which 1,000 years are described as a bygone yesterday – in other words, 1,000 years are like a day to God. Indeed, the significance of the number 1,000 is explored further in the Talmud in Sanhedrin 97a, Perek Cheilik, in which it is contended that the physical world is composed of seven one-thousand-year periods.

Thus, Adam, living 1,000 minus seventy years – a multiple of 7 – was almost a perfect individual.

And that stature gave Adam certain responsibilities.

While we, as ordinary people, might not have that same stature as an Adam, much can be learned from Adam’s generous example of giving away seventy years of his own life to another individual.

The Maharal explains that God created Adam in such a way that Adam could father living beings like himself – only, the lifespan of these beings would diminish as the generations went on, until we reach David, who would only have three hours to live. (The Maharal explains elsewhere why the number 3 represents the minimum in regards to concept of rabbim, or plural.)

Brilliantly, the Maharal argues that Adam was indeed given a great responsibility: the power of life itself over future generations! Adam, as the first of all generations, was found worthy by God of living 1,000 years – and then being the cause of life for generations after himself. From this flow of life Adam gave the gift of life to David, which in turn, by the very existence of David himself and the Davidic dynasty, gave the gift of life to future generations.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Adam, King David, And The Gift Of Giving”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Colin H. Kahl, VP Joe Biden's new national security adviser.
Biden’s New NSA Chief Mocked Israeli Nuke Fears
Latest Indepth Stories

There is not even a hint of recognition that Hamas deliberately fires rockets at civilian targets in Israel while storing arms and rocket launchers among its own civilians in Gaza.

No one with any sanity would dream of rationalizing or justifying the depredations perpetrated on the Arab world by ISIS.

With $2 billion on hand the Islamic State is an extremely well-funded terrorist group that may pose a major international crisis for the U.S. and the world. Learn about their rise to power and the toll they’ve taken thus far.

In the recent Gaza war and its aftermath, we saw a totally illogical reaction from the world.

A., a teacher: “I do not know a single Gazan who is pro-Hamas at the moment, except for those on its payroll.”

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.

Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”

Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

More Articles from Michael R. Paley

In the fall of 1993, I had the wonderful experience of interviewing Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Both a controversial personality and a dynamic presence, Reb Shlomo never lost his unqualified love for his fellow Jew, though he was well aware the feeling was not always reciprocal.

Just a month after being diagnosed with cancer, and now practically confined to a bed as a method of pain control, I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up the Maharal’s Drush Na’eh l’Shabbos T’shuvah, which I had been hoping to read prior to Yom Kippur.

The singer and political activist Bono recently caused a stir when word got out that his California-based venture capital firm, Elevation Partners, invested around $300 million in Forbes magazine, and, more significantly, that his band’s company, U2 Unlimited, which holds the rights to U2′s master tapes, moved to the Netherlands to pay a lower corporate tax rate.

In 2001, Mexican president Vicente Fox made something of a splash when he, contrary to his campaign rhetoric, came out in support of the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. Fox noted that, despite the number of people imprisoned for drug trafficking, and despite the legal penalties for the possession and use of substances, drug use was going up, not down.

Is this something the Jewish community should be concerned with, or, should we keep our noses out of such matters – at least until it affects one of our homes or businesses?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/adam-king-david-and-the-gift-of-giving/2006/11/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: