Kenneth Cohen

Timing is Everything

The Haftarah of last Shabbat, contains an important message for all of us. King David calls to his son, Shlomo, to give his final instructions before leaving this world. David reviews with the new king a number of individuals who were either loyal to him, or had betrayed him. There was unfinished business that David wanted Shlomo to take care of.

In certain instances, David tells his son to use his wisdom in determining how he would execute justice. There are the cases of Yoav and Shimi Ben Geira. They had both betrayed David in their behavior. Yoav had killed David’s allies. Shimi had cursed him in a most disrespectful manner.

David was explaining to Shlomo that the timing wasn’t right for him to deal with these two individuals. It would not have been good for the nation for him to act. But after his death, it would be perfectly in order to punish them as deserved. And, of course, David insisted that those who were loyal to him, should be rewarded.

The Rabbis teach us that we need to be smart enough to understand when it is the right time to say certain things. But we need to be equally wise to know when our words will not be heard. Timing is everything. We must learn to have the patience to know when it is the correct time to speak up. This comes with age when we realize how counter-productive it might be to raise an issue.

The obvious time never to speak is when either side is angry. It is also important to take into account when it would be beneficial to talk about something. King David taught this lesson to his son, and certainly wanted everyone to learn this lesson as well.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at