The Fall Of Shimshon -

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Resource Type: Shiur in: English
Age: 13-18
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Estimated Time: 30 minutes

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Resource Goal

Goals: The chanichim will discuss that despite Shimshons true reason for living amongst the Pelishtim and starting up with him, he will become influenced by the end, and start giving into his taavot and his need for revenge. This will ultimately lead to his downfall. The question in all of these stories is what are Shimshons intentions? Is he really 100% doing this as an undercover mission, or is he taking a lot of fringe benefits (women, power, strength, revenge)? Also the chanichim will discuss the difference between koach physical strength that Shimshon definitely has, and gevurah spiritual strength, which it seems he lacks, and what we can learn from this about what the spiritual personality should be of a leader.


Resource Contents

Written by- Sarah Gordon

sygordon@gmail.com

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

Machal Shiur #15: Perek 14-16

Note: You can do this is one shiur or in two. You can add more into yesterdays shiur, or have another shiur on Shimshon tomorrow. Depending on how much you want to cover the stories in depth and how much discussion you want to have. I put all the info in one shiur, but use your judgment.

Goals: The chanichim will discuss that despite Shimshons true reason for living amongst the Pelishtim and starting up with him, he will become influenced by the end, and start giving into his taavot and his need for revenge. This will ultimately lead to his downfall. The question in all of these stories is what are Shimshons intentions? Is he really 100% doing this as an undercover mission, or is he taking a lot of fringe benefits (women, power, strength, revenge)? Also the chanichim will discuss the difference between koach physical strength that Shimshon definitely has, and gevurah spiritual strength, which it seems he lacks, and what we can learn from this about what the spiritual personality should be of a leader.

Trigger: We will look at 3 stories about Shimshon. Throughout, ask the chanichim if they think Shimshon here is working lishmah, or whether there is also here an element of him giving into his desires or personal need for revenge. How much is he really working undercover for Am Israel, and how much (even if hes supposed to be undercover) will he be working for himself.

Story #1: Perek 15

1-8: Last time, we saw how Shimshon got married, then got tricked by his wife, while trying to trick the Pelishtim and ended up killing many Pelishtim and storming off. Meanwhile, Shimshons wife is given away. But now, Shimshon goes back to find his wife, even bringing along a nice gift to appease her, a lamb (who needs flowers?), but his father-in-law says I gave her away, because I thought you hated her = you left! But dont worry, marry her younger sister instead whose better (Sounds like Lavan with Rachel and Leah!).

Shimshon plans revenge. Is this personal, or also another way to start up with the Pelishtim to help Am Israel. Unclear again! We see that even though Shimshons mission in Pelishti land and marrying the women was to achieve national goals for Am Israel, it seems that his priorities have turned to personal ones.

Shimshon attaches torches to 300 foxes tails and lets them loose in the fields (and it was harvest season as we see in pasuk 1, so the fields right now are full of fully grown crops the food for next year for the Pelishtim and the result of their hard labor throughout the year). Shimshon does lots of damage. This is a HUGE economic loss for the Pelishti nation (a.k.a.. bad for Pelishtim, so good for Am Israel) The Pelishtim cant get revenge on Shimshon he is too strong, so instead they burn down this girls house and her father. (Ask the chanichim: What does this say about the Pelishtim? How do we see how this girl got treated this whole time like an object. But, she did sell out Shimshon.)

Shimshon is upset that the house and peple got burned, so kills lots of plishtim with saddle. (No normal weapons). Once again, personal revenge? Or great opportunity to engage Pelishtim in battle with a solid personal revenge alibi, so they wont suspect its for Am Israel?

Shimshon is sold out by the Jews!

10- The Plishtim come to Am Israel and seems that they will attack them unless the Jews hand over Shimshon, who ran away to Israel. The Jews dont see Shimshon as a shofet, but as some crazy guy causing trouble for them. Shimshon agrees to be handed over but only if they will only imprison him and not kill him. What does this say about Am Israels relationship with Shimshon? How do they view him? This is sad, he is working for Am Israel, but they see him as the enemy! No thanks for his job.

14-Shimshon is tied up and handed over, he snaps the cords, kills lots of plishtim with jawbone of donkey. Could be knew this would happen so wanted to be tied up. He is always playing with the Pelishtim.

18- Suddenly he gets crazy thirsty calls out to Hashem- and Hashem has water come out of jawbone. Huh? Could be sign from Hashem to remember where his strength comes from. That Hashem gave it to him to use for good and the strength can be taken away. This and at the end of his life are the only times Shimshon prays to Hashem. What does this show about Shimshon? What does it say about a person when they only cry out to G-d when they are in trouble? Does Shimshon thank Hashem for his victories? He seems like a very tameh guy, which is the paradox- since he is a Nazir. Here, however, we see his spiritual side.

20-Judges Am Israel for 20 years.Could be listed here and not just at the end of his life (like the other Shoftim) because Shimshon reaches the pinnacle of his strength here, and in the next Perek we see his downfall.

Story #2: Perek 16 (1-3)

1- 3: Shimshon sees an Isha Zonah and sleeps with her. Is this for Am Israel? Or a personal decision by Shimshon? Again, Shimshon is led after his eyes. This is a theme in Shimshon. He sees and he acts, sometimes without thinking about the consequences of what he is doing, especially with women. Similarly, in Perek 14:1-5: Shimshon sees a woman of timnah and said to his father take her for me. Then later in Perek 16:4 Shimshon goes after Delila. He also doesnt hide his sinning. He was very open about it. Was this undercover or already Shimshon going too far? (We can also compare Shimshon to Shlomo with all his wives, who were a negative influence on him, which led to his downfall).

2- The Plishtim hate Shimshon because he keeps messing with them. He is public enemy #1. Now the Plishtim say that in the morning that they will ambush him at the city gates when he tries to leave. So Shimshon wakes up in the middle of the night and moves the heavy locked gates. A crazy feat of strength. He puts them on high mountain where everyone will see, because their plan was to meet the next day at the gates. Hes mocking them and playing with them. Shows also some gaavah. (Didnt run away, but humiliated them).

Story #3: Perek 16: 4-31

4- Shimshon meets girl #3. Now hes chasing after women, going after taavot. The Plishtim (like with girl #1) convince her to find out Shimshons secret of his strength and betray it to her. Once again, we find untrustworthy Pelishti women. And though Shimshon is so physically strong, he is emotionally weak and always gives into these women!

Her name is Delila: Malbim: Called Delila, because Dildela kocho, maasav velibo. Dildela = mixed up, she messed up his strength, his action and his heart.

Shimshon keeps putting her off and giving her fake out answers until he cracks and gives her the real one.

Shimshon plays games with her- hes hinting to the truth. He says tie me up with 7 wet cords of string (yetarim lachim). What do wet cords of string look like? Hes hinting to hair the truth. It seems he even wants her to guess! (Ex: When you tell someone a story about someone, but you dont say outright who it is, but make it obvious so that they will guess you want them to guess the truth!) Then, answer #2, he says the secret is 7 new ropes that were never worked (avotim chadashim). Then, answer #3, if you weave his hair on the loom. Now he even mentions hair! Its so close to the truth! He really wants to tell her, hes almost broken down (What does this say about Shimshon and his dedication to his mission subconsciously? Unclear).

She manipulates him, by using his love for her as a weapon. If you really loved me you would tell me. Each time the Pelishtim are hiding in the other room but Shimshon has no idea. The aveirah he commited by living with her has put him in a situation where hes now totally vulnerable. He may have koach, super physical strength, but he has no gevurah, spiritual strength, to resist her. Hes BLIND to what she is doing (midah kneged midah - he ran after women and desires because of his einayim eyes, now he is being tricked by her and doesnt see where this is all going).

17-18: She wears him down until he loses his will to live. Huh? He loses his identity as Shimshon the warrior with the secret mission. He gives up his secret to her and forgets his mission. She sees that he poured out his heart to her, ki higid lah et kol libo and she turns around and betrays him! (Lehavdil, like that Simpsons episode where Bart sees his heart ripped out by the girl he likes and thrown into the trash). Ask the chainchim: What do you think about Delila? What do you think about Shimshon now? Did he get what he deserved or not? Delila tells the Plishtim the secret and she gets a cash reward, literally selling out Shimshon.

20-She lulls him to sleep and shaves his head. They start to beat him up, he wakes up thinking like all times he can just jump up and be strong but this time something is terribly wrong. This time there is no Ruach Hashem falling on him to help him why? Because Shimshon did this to himself. He forgot about his divine mission and got involved with sketchy women and therefore does not deserve help. He got in too far! (Actually, always a concern when people go undercover think of Season 3 of 24 when Jack goes undercover and has to start using drugs. Sorry, I really like 24).

Whats up with the hair?

Why is it anyways that Shimshon had this built in kryptonite weakness of hair? Its not that cutting his hair will make him lose his strength its a factor of his nezirut (no haircuts), which, as we saw in the last shiur, was to push him more to kedusha to help him not get affected by the tumaah of the plishtim. But he couldnt control his desires and got involved with women and now Hashem wont help him. (Hashem could restore the strength , but this is a punishment to Shimshon).

Also, the long hair was a mashal to Shimshon. Hair has its root inside while outside it is dead cells. So too, Shimshon (ideally) was to be holy on the inside and the outside life he led was a farce, an undercover mission.

21-Shimshon is captured, taken to prison, and they put out his eyes. He didnt know they would take out his eyes, its a mokesh/embarrassment to him, a midah kneged midah punishment because he always strayed after his eyes, that was his downfall. Sotah 9b: Sinned with his eyes, so lost his eyes. But in jail his hair and strength are slowly growing back.

23-Shimshons capture becomes a chillul Hashem, a religious victory for Pelishtim, who think their god gave Shimshon into their hands, the Shimshon who persecuted themand destroyed their land and killed their people. So they want to bring Shimshon out during their religious celebration/party vayisachek lanu, to tease him. Theyre going to humiliate him the way he toyed and humiliated them.

25-30: Shimshon has to be led out by a naar, thats how weak he is, its humiliating to him. Perhaps midah kneged midah that he allowed himself to get caught up in his own strength and not use it just for G-d, but for personal revenge, so now he loses it.

He is put between two pillars of the temple, and he davens to Hashem to get revenge for the loss of his eyes. Chazkeni na (its also a song now). Shimshon lacked tefillah his entire life (except when he was thirsty and had no water), but when he finally feels a time of need he turns to G-d. It seems davka when he has no eyes, he does what is right in the eyes of Hashem.

Now he wants personal, not national revenge, but its understandable, so Hashem lets him regain his strength. For in Shimshons revenge, he kills more Pelishtim then ever before, which is good for Am Israel who are being oppressed by the Pelishtim. Also, this had turned into a religious victory for the Pelishtim (who are basically saying our god is cooler!) which is no good. Shimshon brings down the whole temple and kills himself and all the Plishtim. Sacrificing himself for the Am (but also getting personal revenge).

31: Buried with his fathers. Only in death is Shimshon reunited with his family. He sacrificed a normal Jewish life to service the Am living among the Pelishtim.

Leadership Scenarios for the Chanichim:

  • What traits do we see about Shimshon that are good for a leader to have and what are negative? Self sacrifice, putting the nation first, brave, physical strength. But also he is swayed by women, gives into women and his desires, very violent, wants revenge

  • How does a leader balance koach and gevurah, physical strength and moral courage? A leader can be very strong but also very immoral (think about some past presidents). What takes more courage, to fight in battle or to fight against your desires? (Pirkei Avot: Eizehu Gibor? HaKovesh Et Yitzro, Who is strong? He who conquers his desires). As leaders, how do we balance our desires? Do our desires rule us or do we rule them? How strong can you be if you always give into your physical side? Or if you are not as moral as you should be (a student council president who cheats on his/her finals)? Why is gevurah so important and how can we achieve it?

Recap: Shimshon spent his whole life undercover for Am Israel. But it is unclear how much of the time he was fighting for them, and when exactly the ligns got blurred and personal desires and personal revenge came into play. Shimshon gave into his taavot and ended corrupted by his surroundings, especially by Pelishti women. His taavah for Delila allowed him to led down his guard and forget his mission, culminating in his capture and humiliation by the Pelishtim.


Resource Comments

Machal Shiur #15: Perek 14-16



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