Yiphtach- Part 1 - '

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Resource Goal

Goal: Chanichim will see how Yiftach (in the beginning of his leadership), unlike Avimelech, uses his drive for power and leadership to try and become a good shofet and the Moshiah who will help Bnei Israel.

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 12: Perek 10-11

Goal: Chanichim will see how Yiftach (in the beginning of his leadership), unlike Avimelech, uses his drive for power and leadership to try and become a good shofet and the Moshiah who will help Bnei Israel.

The Shoftim Cycle Ends?

Perek 10 (11-14): Bnei Israel cry out to G-d - the tzaakah part of the usual Shoftim cycle, but this time G-d says its enough and He will not save them anymore since they continue to do avodah zara no matter how many times He saves them.

What does this mean??? Hashem is breaking the Shoftim cycle. From now on Shoftim will no longer be appointed by Hashem. Really this started from the end of Gidon. Avimelech and Yiftach are appointed by the people and are, or end up being corrupt. Shimshon is very strange, a shofet from birth yet the people do not know that he exists. And then the downfall continues with Pesel Michah and Pilegesh BGivaah.

Why did Hashem get fed up with the shoftim cycle? Because it was a cycle and the Jews refused to do real teshuvah. Now we are beginning to switch into the Malchut system. Now the people have to find their own shofet.

(Bonus round/or a great Friday Shiur: Why would Hashem end the Shoftim cycle? Why does it end here? Why not let it continue? You could compare it to Tehillim 107 where there is also a cycle but each cycle of us crying out to G-d and being saved is finished off with us saying THANK YOU - and thanking Hashem, which does not happen with Shoftim. Shoftim cycles only end with Sheket quiet, and not shalom, peace. That requires us to thank Hashem for helping us, instead of re-slipping into worshipping Avodah Zara. For more info, check out R Menachem Leibtags shiur on Yom Haatzmaut, which is the holiday we say this Mizmor on).

Yiftachs background: Perek 11

1-11: The Perek starts off telling us that Yiftach is a gibor chayil but that he is also the son of an isha zonah, concubine or just zonah. His step brothers then kick him out of the house because he was the son of a different women.

Radak: Ben ishah zonah- son of a women from a different shevet (but there was so much disunity this was enough to cause issues).

3: So Yiftach runs away and lots of sketchy people come hang out with him (he basically becomes a gangster).

Ralbag 11:3: Yiftach and his men would go out to war a lot and from the wars, they would get food and sustenance. They were hired goons, mercenaries.

Ask the chanichim: What do you think being kicked out of his family would do to Yiftach psychologically? We see this effect later when he asks for a higher position and guarantees.

What do we see about the chevra that he chooses? What does it say about a leader if he picks bad people to hang out with?

Yiftach and Avimelech:

Compare Yiftach to Avimelech who also chooses a sketchy chevra

(Shoftim 9:4: ). Already we see similarities between Avimelech and Yiftach:



Born to a Pilegesh

Born to a Pilegesh

Goes to the people (Anshei Shechem) and asks them to make him the leader

The people come to Yiftach and ask him ot be the leader

Odd man out, reject amongst his brothers

Odd man out, reject

Hangs out with shady people, mercenaries, and people hire them

Shady people, mercenaries are drawn to Yiftach and he leads them

Bad guy, shady

Described as a

It seems that Yiftach starts off similar to Avimelech, but there are clear differences and it looks like Yiftach is on a better track.

Meanwhile Am Israel (a.k.a Anshei Gilad) need help defeating Amon, so they go back to Yiftach and ask him to be the katzin, the general and help them fight Amon.

***Notice how there is no Shofet appointed by G-d anymore the people have to find their own Shofet! (After G-d canceling the Shoftim cycle in Perek 10).

Yiftach responds: Why are you coming to me now? Dont you hate me, and didnt you kick me out of my fathers house?

Bnei Gilad: If you help us, you can become our leader.

So they make a deal, Yiftach will help them fight and then he will get to be their leader.

Why do Bnei Gilad go back to Yiftach? Didnt they kick him out?

Same issue in Shoftim of lack of good leadership have to go to the sidelines and take unworthy or unexpected people as leaders (sounds like Mashal Yatom, here too Bnei Gilad are choosing someone small and corrupt look who he is hanging out with; gangsters, to be their leadef).

But maybe Yiftach is a good leader?

Rosh Hashana 25b: Yiftach bdoro kShmuel bdoro. Yiftach in his generation is parallel to Shmuel in his generation. All they had then was Yiftach, there were no Shumels to lead.

Kohelet 7:10: Youre not supposed to insult the leaders that your generation has!

Is this true? Maybe dont insult them, but criticize.

This Gemara implies that Yiftach is not a great leader, but not a bad one either.

It could be also that Gemara is answering to fact that Yiftach was not a shofet appointed by G-d (because of the whole end of the Shoftim system seen in the beginning of todays shiur), but by the people. But nonetheless, Yiftach is trying to do a good job, so we cant insult him just because he wasnt appointed by G-d. Also, Yiftach comes from a shady background, but so do a lot of people, and we believe in free will and people always have the power to overcome the environment that they were born into and rise above it to become a great leader.

But, there are also Gemaras that state the contrary; Bava Kamma 92b: Yiftach was a mediocre person so he attracted mediocre people to him

Also, first they only offer him katzin a military role, they want to hire a mercenary, not a Shofet. This is because Yiftach is hanging out with bad guys, he is good at fighting, thats what they want. But to sign him as their katzin, they have to give in to letting him be leader.

9-Yiftach agrees to take on the job, but only if he can be in charge.

Why did Yiftach ask for the Rosh job? Sounds like gaavah.

R Aviner: It was insurance! They kicked him out once before, how can he know for sure that they wont use him to have him fight for them, and then kick him out again? He wants insurance that this time he will get to be the ruler and not be kicked out again.

Yiftach was kicked out of his rightful place in his fathers house because he was called illegitimate. Yiftachs goal in life is to reclaim that legitimacy and get power and honor. If he can be the Rosh, he obviously must be legitimate. This is what drives him.

Ask the chanichim: Is it wrong to ask for more power?? At least he is stepping up to be a leader, unlike other people in Shoftim. Or does asking for too much power imply gaavah and bad leadership?? Also, a theme we are starting to see now is that possibly due to getting kicked out of his leadership place as a kid Yiftach desperately wants to be the moshiah. He tries to do the right thing, wants more power, more leadership, but at the same time he wants to do things lifnei Hashem and save the people. He wants to be the moshiah. So on one hand he is like Avimelech, but Yiftach so far seems to want to use his powers for good. Avimelech, once he gets the leadership, does not know what to do with it and kills out people and towns. We will see that Yiftach will go bad at the end, but so far, Yiftach wants to be the leader, like Avimelech did, but is using his power for good. He is a decent leader so far. The question here is will this last. (The answer is NO, but well see that in the next shiur).

11- Yiftach speaks all these words lifnei Hashem. He tries to do everything before G-d. It says in Pasuk 9 that Hashem will help him win the battle.

What does Yiftach speak lifnei Hashem in Mitzpeh? He tells over the whole story of being offered the leadership in public to all the people. Yiftach wants religious and political legitimacy wants to be the moshiah, the melech. So he tells over what happened so everyone will know that he is now in charge.

Ask the chanichim: What does it say about someone if they are so insecure in their leadership that they always are reminding people that they are in charge? How would you feel about that leader?

12-29: Political strength: Yiftach is a talented diplomat with great koach hadibbur. Negotiates with the Bnei Amon, but still cant come to a diplomatic solution.

The issue with Bnei Amon: (Compare with Bamidbar -26 to understand what is happening here)

Bnei Amon wants certain cities from the Arnon to the Yabok that it says Bnei Israel stole from it.

Yiftach: Thats crazy talk!

  1. He proves that really we conquered that land from Sichon, who had conquered it from Amon. Its not our problem if someone conquered it from you. We took it from Sichon, not from you!!

  2. If this is such as issue why are you contesting it now?? We lived in these cities for 300 years and you said nothing!! (Pasuk 26 in Shoftim).

  3. Moav could make the same claim and they never fought us over land (they cursed us instead with Bilaam and thats why we fought them). But we beat Bilaam and we can beat you too, so bring it on!

(Compare with Palestinian refugee issues, Egypt saying that we stole money from them see .)

29-32: Bnei Amon dont listen, Yiftach goes to war.

29- Yiftach gets ruach Hashem. Why? Seems hes trying to do the right thing so Hashem will help him out. Even though he is a people-appointed Shofet.

Moreh Nevuchim 45:2: Lowest level of nevuah is laasot devraim gedolim shel hatzalat tzibbur- to do great things on behalf of the community or the nation. This was Yiftach (and Shimshon). If you do stuff to help Am Israel, even if you are not so great, that is still a level of nevuah that gets you ruach Hashem.


  1. Yiftach seems to start off similarly like Avimelech and seems to be scarred from being kicked out from his family. But, though he too wants to be the leader, he wants this power to do good and to become the Moshiah. He seems to do everything lifnei Hashem. So though he comes from rough beginnings, it seems that Yiftach is an ok leader. for now.

  2. Additionally, we see that even if you dont believe in yourself to accomplish something, if you stick with it and keep trying, Hashem will help you out.

To be continued in the next Perek where Yiftach turns to the dark side.

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Machal Shiur 12: Perek 10-11

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