Shabbat Shalom! In the Mahar Hodesh haftarah, Jonathan the Prince of Israel, helps David escape from his father, King Saul. Saul wants to kill David because he is jealous of him. He gets even angrier after David does not show up to two of his dinners, and in the height of his blinding rage he throws a spear at Jonathan, who then knows that it is time for David to escape. The two friends had already worked out a system of communication: Jonathan would shoot three arrows and tell his servant that they are “beyond him” if David needs to escape, and “to this direction” if David is safe. When Jonathan shot the arrows beyond his servant, meaning that David would need to flee, David cried and kissed Jonathan, risking his life to express his love for Jonathan before he left. This was the last time David ever saw Jonathan, who later died in war.
The thing that struck me most about Mahar Hodesh was how abandoned Saul felt. The most obvious reason is that David was simply more popular than Saul, as David killed more Philistines in battle. Another less obvious reason was that David had a closer relationship with Jonathan than Saul. In addition, David was supposed to be Saul’s moral support by playing music for him, but instead David provided support to Jonathan. After Saul was abandoned by Samuel, his prophet, because he did not follow G-d’s command, he was worried about being abandoned by David, Jonathan, and all of Israel. His raging anger, fear, and jealousy are conveyed in the trope. The trope soars to infuriated highs then drops to regretful lows again, depicting how confusing and dangerous those emotions are and how they clouded Saul’s judgement. Because Saul was not able to overcome those feelings, he lost both his son and David. I can relate to this myself because on many occasions I have let my own anger get the best of me. This haftarah taught me that you must sometimes see past your own feelings and look at the big picture to keep peace with the people you love.
Jenna Nesky is a 7th grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.