Samson and Delilah, Understanding and Insights

    June 2011          
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Samson – Should He be Looked Up To?

Was he really the Good Jewish Boy We Want from our Sons?

By Avi Lazerson

What would you think if I told you story of a religious Jewish couple who had been wed for many years without having children and finally they have a son. They of course are so happy. They send the son to the finest religious schools and he grows up like all the cute religious Jewish boys with his head covered with a yarmulke (a skull cap) and the traditional tzitizis (four cornered garment with fringes). After completing his long and intensive yeshiva learning he is finally ready for shidduchim (arranging a marriage). To the surprise of his pious mother and father the boy is not interested in Jewish girls; instead he only wants to find and marry a Palestinian woman.

Doesn't this sound strange to you? You might even say that it is too strange to actually happen, but that is exactly the strange case of Samson (Judges, Chapters 13-15). Let us look into it to see really what it is all about.

The story of Samson took place during a period of time when the Jews were not behaving themselves properly in relation to G-d. This was shortly after the time that the Jews came into the Land of Israel with Joshua. As a punishment for the Jew's wickedness, G-d allowed the Palestinians to rule over them and for forty years they lived under the dominion of the Palestinians.

Samson's father's name was Manoach, from the tribe of Dan. His wife was barren. Then suddenly she is visited by an angel who tells her that she is to have a son; she is not to drink wine or eat of any food that is ritually impure. The son will grow to be the redeemer of the Jews and grant relief to the Jews from the hands of the Palestinians. She must never cut his hair.

Well, needless to say the woman was quite excited and she ran to tell her husband about the visitation. He came running to verify the story and sure enough, it was true. Now we must realize that angels don't come to sinners, they come to the very righteous, like the case of Sarah and Rivkah, here also it is assumed that Manoach and his wife were G-d fearing people.

The son that was born was called Samson. He grew up and had this strange attraction to Palestinian women. The first time it happened that he fell in love with a Palestinian women from a town called Timna. He told his father that this is the woman that he desires for a wife and only she. His father was shocked and told him, "can you not find a suitable woman from your own people?" Needless to say, Samson could not be talked out of it, so they made plans for the wedding but the wedding did not come off and enmity began between Samson and the Palestinians.

From this point in time, Samson and the Palestinians become constant enemies. They repeatedly try to capture him but are unsuccessful. In the mean time he manages to single-handedly kill hundreds and even thousands of them. He is now the Palestinian's number one problem and number one enemy.

Next, Samson happens down in Gaza and there he meets a prostitute whom he spends the night with. Some says she was not a prostitute, but rather had a hotel keeper. (I choose the simple meaning of the text, but we must acknowledge the other view.) There the local Palestinian population hears that Samson is sleeping over night so they plan to kill him, but with his super strength he is able to lift the giant gates together with their doorposts and carry them to Hebron.

After this episode, Samson finally meets the famous Delilah and falls totally in love with her. Slowly she winds the truth out of him as to his strength; that the secret is his long uncut hair. She cuts his hair and his super strength leaves him. The Palestinians come to tie him up and they put out his eyes. Blinded, Samson is carted down to Gaza amid great rejoicing by the Palestinians. They tie him to the columns of their great temple and begin a large celebration of thousands of people dancing and rejoicing of the capture of the man who has made their life living hell and his soon to be public execution. During this short time, his hair begins to grow back and with his last living actions he pulls the columns that support the great temple. With thousands of people dancing on the roof and more inside, the gigantic Palestinian temple roof caves in killing tens of thousands of Palestinians and Samson with them.

That is a rough outline of the story of Samson. (The reader is urged to look it up in Judges, Chapters 13-15) Now it is time to analyze why Samson had such an unquenchable desire for Palestinian women and the Jewish girls left him unmoved.

As we mentioned at the beginning that the story starts out that the Jews were doing evil in the eyes of G-d and for this very reason he gave them over to the Palestinian domination for forty years. After these forty years G-d decided to lift up from them the yoke of the Palestinians. Samson was the vehicle for this mission.

When Samson first exhibits his desires for a Palestinian girl, we are told that his parents did not know that this inborn desire was put in Samson from G-d in order for him to bring a relief from the Palestinian rule (14:4). The reason was in order that the Palestinians should look at Samson as a lone rebel; that is was him alone and not the Jews who were causing the problems. Therefore no retribution could be meted out to the Jews for this individual's action. He actually loved their women; he was almost one of them. Therefore the Jews as a nation were safe; it was Samson who was the hunted enemy.

Samson was created for really one purpose and that was to exact revenge for their treatment of the Jews. He was not a 'normal' person in that he should have normal desires and reactions but rather some one that G-d created only for this specific purpose and because of this G-d put into him the desire for the Palestinian women.

This also goes well with the teachings of the famous Kabalistic book, Shaar HaGilgulim, from the famous writings based on the teachings of the holy Ari. In this book it is explained how souls come down. Most souls are re-incarnations of souls that have been here before. These souls come back to do what they did not do properly when they were here the last time. Yet there is another category of souls that come into this world and they are called 'new' souls. There are two types of 'new' souls; the first are souls that have never descended into this world before. They belong to the collective body that the first group of souls belong to except that they have not had their chance to come into this world yet. The second type of 'new' souls are souls that are individually and specially created for a single and specific purpose only which is generally related to leading the Jews in the right direction.

Such was the soul of Samson. His soul was created only for the purpose of bringing relief from the Palestinian rule. Once that was accomplished he was taken away. In every time of need, whether the Jews warrant a redeemer or not, G-d helps them in miraculous ways. We need only to go below the surface and we can then see it. Such is the message that we must realize from the story of Samson.


from the June 2011 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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