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Haftarah-Zachor-Misdirected Chesed

Transcribed from a Midot Hayom lecture 1995: Rabbi Elazar said: Whoever who has compassion on someone who is cruel will eventually will become cruel to those who have compassion. As it is written, “But Saul and the people had pity on Agag, and on the best of the sheep and the oxen…


Saul had compassion.  He refused to wipe out Amalek.   A nation of killers!  But he couldn’t do it! He was a compassionate man, or was he?

And it is written with regard to Nob, the city of priests, that he wiped them out.  Men, women, and children.  Because they were compassionate.

That’s having no Tiferet she’be ChesedTiferet means that it reflects the basic beauty of existence.  But if this person’s existence argues against existence, and you have compassion for it anyway, then there is no Tiferet she’be Chesed.   It’s your own act of compassion.  But it isn’t Tiferet she’be Chesed because it contradicts basic existence.  To allow a murderer to live, because you have compassion on them…you know they don’t deserve to live, you just can’t find it in your heart to do it.  Your Chesed on them has nothing to do with real Chesed.  It’s kindness, it’s charity, it’s compassion.  But it isn’t Chesed.  Remember, if the Chesed is lacking any one of its defining attributes, then it’s not Chesed.

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