Pesel Micha -

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Resource Type: Shiur in: English
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Estimated Time: 30 minutes

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Resource Goal

Goal: The chanichim should see from this story the anarchy and immoral behavior that took place during the time of the Shoftim, largely because there was no king or strong central leader in charge. They will also see the irony and the backwardness shown in this story by the people who should be leaders.

Resource Contents

Written by- Sarah Gordon

Many of the ideas from these shiruim are adapted from the book "Shofet HaShoftim" by Yisroel Rozenson, published by Machon Herzog.

Machal Shiur 16: Perek 17 and 18

Goal: The chanichim should see from this story the anarchy and immoral behavior that took place during the time of the Shoftim, largely because there was no king or strong central leader in charge. They will also see the irony and the backwardness shown in this story by the people who should be leaders.

Intro: Many commentators say that though this story and the next one (Pilegesh bgivah) are at the end of Shoftim, really they could have happened at any time, and they are not in chronological order. In fact, they could have happened at any time during Sefer Shoftim. Specifcally, we will see later that they probably happened somewhere near the beginning. So why are they at the end? Since Shmuel (who is writing the book) is trying to send an important message here. He wants the book to be a downhill spiral after Gidon, to show the anarchy and chaos that can take place where there is no central leader, and how even though at the beginning it might have seemed like the Shoftim cycle was working, now we realize that without a permanent leader there is only anarchy, and only room for stories like this to happen.

Specifically, why is Pesel Micha important? What does it teach us?

1. Ein melech byisrael- What happens when there is no leadership.

2. In this story Shevet Dan is wandering around, since they have no nachala, no place to live, since they did not do their job of kicking out the goyim. The 2 usual themes of Sefer Shoftim.

Perek 17:

1- There is a man name Michaihu from Har Efrayim, who apparently (the pesukim kind of start in the middle of the story) had stolen 1100 pieces of silver from his mother.

She had cursed whoever had stolen it, and Michaihu returns the money bc he is afraid of the curse. She responds by blessing him and forgiving him, and says anyways what she wanted to do with the money was to give it to her son for him to use it to make a pesel, an idol. His mom goes to a blacksmith and gets him to make the pesel, and puts it in her sons house.

5: Micha then turns his house into a Beit Elokim, puts the pesel there, and he also makes an ephod (items that were in the Mishkan, but also what Gidon made which Bnei Israel started worshipping as Avodah Zara) and teraphim (which Rachel stole from Lavan avodah zarah!) and makes one of his sons the kohen.

Irony: This is backwards avodah zara, hes not doing outright avodah zara like the other times Bnei Israel sin in Sefer Shoftim, but hes trying to make it kosher , into fake avodat Hashem he has a temple and calls it a Bet Hashem, he hires a cohen, makes an ephodetc. He doesnt see any of this as hypocritical, this shows the backwardness of the generation its weirdo avodah zara, twisted avodat Hashem.


We even see this irony with the money; money that should be set aside for Hashem (hekdesh) is set aside for idol worship.

6: In those days there was no king in Israel so everyone did what was right in their eyes. What does this mean? Anarchy. This is an explanation of why Micah can go and make a breakaway temple and no one will stop him. Even though right nearby is the Mishkan in Shiloh!! But he can make his own and no one says anything.

Radak 17:6: There is no king or Shofet, or central authority, so no public outrage at what Micha had done. Once again lack of leadership!! Also no unity as a nation, everyone is functioning as an individual society and a nation cannot function like this!

What is the origin of

Devarim 12:8-12: The original warning againt people doing what is yashar benav, is that in the future (in the time of Yehoshua) we cant just bring korbanot in any place we want, but only in the place Hashem will choose a.k.a. either the Mishkan in Shiloh or the future Bet Hamikdash in Yerushalayim. Bamot individual breakaway temples or altars outside of Har Habayit will become assur. Here the opposite is happening with Michas breakaway temple he is doing exactly that so Sefer Shoftim will use the same language of ish hayashar beenav yaaseh, the opposite of this, of doing whatever you want, is creating a breakaway temple.

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8 Ye shall not do after all that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes;

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9 for ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth thee.

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10 But when ye go over the Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God causeth you to inherit, and He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;

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11 then it shall come to pass that the place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, thither shall ye bring all that I command you: your burnt-offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD.

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12 And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and the Levite that is within your gates, forasmuch as he hath no portion nor inheritance with you.

7- A Levi comes from the territory of Yehuda where he lived. Wandering around, trying to find a place to live. Micha recruits him to be a priest and av, father in his home. Hell give him a nice salary.

Why does Micha want this guy? He already has his son as a kohen! Because Micha wants this to be a legitimate temple. Its all backwards, very schizophrenic. He wants a levi, because halakhically you need a Levi, not a random Jew to be the priest (like Michas son). Even though its for Avodah Zara!

What about this Levi?

  1. He is corrupt! Hiring himself out to avodah zara. He is wandering with no purpose! This is in direct opposite to Shumel, who circled around the land but was rooted in Ramah, he traveled with a purpose, this Levi just wanders.

  2. Also this is a Levi who lived in Shevet Yehuda (because Leviim dont get own nachal). More irony!! Because where is the leadership supposed to come from the Jewish people? Kingship and political leadership from Yehuda, and religious leadership from shevet Levi! But you have neither with this corrupt Levi, the emphasis on where he is from is to show that the leadership tribes not doing their job!!

  3. Also this is criticism on Shevet Yehuda, that Yehuda was not being hospitable to this Levi so he left. The theme of hachnasat orchim or lack thereof i this sefer. Parallel to Micha, who according to Sanhendrin 103b, did a lot of hachnasat orchim. The next story, of Piligesh bGivaah, is the opposite of hachnasat orchim.

Also, Micha appeals to the levis sense of honor. Says he can be an av, important guy in his temple, even though the Levi is really only a naar (this is another parallel to Shumuel who was also a naar in Bet Hashem, but in the real mishkan, and he was not corrupt). This shows the irony and the backwards society, where a naar is treated like an av, like Yeshayahu 3:4, Venattati naarim sareihem.

12- Micha takes away kohen-ship from his son to levi. Like in the desert when the Bechorim lose out to leviim and cohanim. Here its a backwards situation.

13- Micha thinks Hashem will be with him now that he has a levi. This is so backwards!!

Ask the chanichim: What do you think about Micha so far? What do you think about his building a breakaway temple? What does this say about his leadership talents? What does this say about the state of the generation? Micha is not evil, just misguided. What do you think about the Levi? It seems that the Levi knows what he is doing a lot more then Micha.

Perek 18:

1. Starts off by telling us no king in Israel. Meaning if there had been, this whole disaster would never have happened because a leader would have stepped up, either shofet or King.

Shevet Dan sends out spies to check out the land and find land to conquer. Because they did not have any nachala and are looking for a place to live. No nachala? Obviously this Shevet has not been doing their job in conquering their portion, to the extent that they have mamash no place to live! (This is why most mepharshim say that this happened ealier on in the period of Shoftim when Shevatim were still attempting to conquer their nachalah).

Also no shevet is helping them! Additioanlly they have gotten so small, that Dan is no longer called a shevet here, but just a mishpacha! They are portrayed as a nebach group.

3- The spies come to Michas temple. Recognize the Levi (Malbim: Since Levi was from Kehat, could be his hometown was in Shevet Dan, so they knew him). They ask; what the heck are you doing here? They ask him to see if their mission will be successful. He says yes, its what Hashem wants. Unclear whether the spies thought the Levi was legitimate, or knew it was avodah zara and asked anyways. To the levi, this is a way to make money, a job, doesnt care temple is not legit. And he is fine with just telling them things in the name of Hashem. Showing again the irony and the backwardness of the generation.

Shevet Dan is sending meraglim, just like Moshe and Yehoshua. They think they are acting like Moshe and Yehoshua, but will end up being corrupt. Though it sounds like doing right thing trying to conquer land (though its crazy late if its already after Shimshon), we see it too is twisted and backwards. Especially with the town that they decide to conquer:

7- Town of Laish, which pasuk stresses was peaceful, they lived securely, didnt bother anyone. The pasuk goes out of its way to stress how peaceful this town was!


Ask the chanichim: Why would Dan pick a town like this? What does this say about Shevet Dan? What does this show about the generation of Shoftim if this is what the different shevatim are doing??

Dan picks a weak, easy target, of a peaceful town to attack. This is not what conquering the land is supposed to be like do not massacre the weak and peaceful! Especially since the Torah keeps stressing to us that its a peaceful town, in when the spies report back, and when Dan attacks.

On the way to attacking Laish, the 600 armed men from Dan stop off again at Michas temple.

14- The 5 spies tell their brothers: In this temple is a pesel and an ephod you know what to do. Sound like such gangsters!! Its an armed mob of gangsters.

They go inside and greet the Levi and start to take all the stuff. The levi is at the door, and outside are 600 armed men. The Levi says what the heck are you doing? and they say, Close ur mouth, if you know whats good for you. Come be our Levi, a kohen for a whole tribe, not just one guy! For the Levi, this was all for money anyways, he has no attachment to Micha. And you dont argue with 600 armed men!! So he goes too. (Notice how in this story, and also by Shimshon, people are always selling each other out for money!)

They leave, and then obviously Micha realizes what has happened and chases after them. Shevet Dan says to Micha: Whats the problem? He responds, Obviously you know why Im here, you stole all my stuff. Nebach, Micha is helpless, gets no help from anyone, crying that his gods are stolen. This again shows the backwardness and the irony Micha is crying that his avodah zara is stolen.

25- Ultimate gangster response: Dont keep talking because you might make some people here angry and then you and your household will die!!

28- Dan goes on to wipe out Laish. Stresses that they had no one to save them from Dan because they were isolated. Dan rebuilds the city and renames it, set up Pesel Micha there with the levi, and the levi and his family served shevet Dan until the time of Galut. The Pesel stayed there the whole time the Mishkan was in Shiloh. Even though there was a legit temple to Hashem nearby, Dan worshipped at the Avodah Zara fake out temple.

Who was the Levi?

Yonatan ben Menashe. The nun in Menashe is elevated to show a separate word- Moshe.

Bava Batra 109b: He was descended from Moshe Rabbeinu, but because his actions were like those of evil king Menashe (in Melachim) they said he was descended from him. Really this Levi was a great grandson of Moshe Rabbeinu! (This could be why he was recognized by shevet Dan, and why Micha was so excited to recruit him to his temple). How could it be that Moshes great grandson went off the derech???

Unclear. Sometimes great leaders and rabbis have kids who do not follow in their ways.

This shows here the backwardness of Sefer Shoftim and this time period as one of a lack of leadership. The people you would expect the leadership to come from Shevet Levi, esp. a descendant of Moshe turn out to be horrible and corrupt leaders. This also is another proof that this happened earlier on in the Shoftim cycle for this person to actually be the grandson of Moshe and not be super old.

Recap: The story of pesel Micha shows us the anarchy and corruption that can happen when there is no central leadership. It shows us the irony and backwardness of both Micha, Levi and Shevet Dan, in their avodah zara and abuse of avodat Hashem, and in their massacre of a peaceful city in a backwards version of Kivush Haaretz.

Resource Comments

Machal Shiur 16: Perek 17 and 18

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