Background: The Shimshon story, contained in Shoftim 13-16.

One of the more fascinating characters in Nach, Shimshon is a Nazir-Warrior, abstaining from wine and barbers yet gladly partaking of wholesale slaughter, eventually being lured into Phillistine hands by the wily femme fatale Delilah. Blinded and reduced to an object of derision, his dying words plead to God to help him avenge one of his eyes, and thus Shimshon dies as he lived: extremely violently. Such a character raises big questions as to what a Jewish leader is, and whether Shimshon was a good one. Objective: 1. To tell the story of Shimshon, however you want. 2. To talk about the “superhero” model of leadership, and its flaws as embodied by Shimshon’s shofet career. Trigger: We’re going to compare Shim shon to superheroes in this shiur, so ask your kids whether Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Hawkman, what have you, are good leaders. Why? Why not? Origin Story Shoftim 13:1-5

‫ פ (ב) ויהי איש אחד מצרעה‬:‫א) ויספו בני ישראל לעשות הרע בעיני יקוק ויתנם יקוק ביד פלשתים ארבעים שנה‬ ‫ממשפחת הדני ושמו מנוח ואשתו עקרה ולא ילדה (ג) וירא מלאך יקוק אל האשה ויאמר אליה הנה נא את עקרה‬ ‫ולא ילדת והרית וילדת בן (ד) ועתה השמרי נא ואל תשתי יין ושכר ואל תאכלי כל טמא (ה) כי הנך הרה וילדת בן‬ ‫ומורה לא יעלה על ראשו כי נזיר אלהים יהיה הנער מן הבטן והוא יחל להושיע את ישראל מיד פלשתים‬
1 And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. {P} 2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bore not. 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her: 'Behold now, thou art barren, and hast not borne; but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing. 5 For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come upon his head; for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.' Superhuman Abilities Shoftim 14:5-6

‫ה) וירד שמשון ואביו ואמו תמנתה ויבאו עד כרמי תמנתה והנה כפיר אריות שאג לקראתו (ו) ותצלח עליו רוח יקוק‬ ‫וישסעהו כשסע הגדי ומאומה אין בידו ולא הגיד לאביו ולאמו את אשר עשה‬
5 Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnah, and came to the vineyards of Timnah; and, behold, a young lion roared against him. 6 And the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as one would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand; but he told not his father or his mother what he had done. “Faster than a speeding bullet! more powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s....Superman!” Weakness Shoftim 16:17

‫יז) ויגד לה את כל לבו ויאמר לה מורה לא עלה עלראשי כי נזיר אלהים אני‬ ‫מבטן אמי אם גלחתי וסר ממני כחי וחליתי והייתי ככל האדם‬
17) And he told her all his heart, and said unto her: 'There hath not come a razor upon my head; for I have been a Nazirite unto God from

my mother's womb; if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other Secrecy Shoftim 16:15

‫טו) ותאמר אליו איך תאמר אהבתיך ולבך אין אתי זה שלש פעמים התלת בי ולא הגדת לי במה כחך גדול‬
15) And she said unto him: 'How canst thou say: I love thee, when thy heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.' “Mr. Incredible: Of course I have a secret identity. I don't know a single superhero who doesn't. Who wants the pressure of being super all the time? Helen: Of course I have a secret identity. Can you see me in this at the, at the supermarket? Come on! Who'd want to go shopping as Elastigirl, know what I mean?” -The Incredibles Vigilantism Shoftim 15:3-8

‫ג) ויאמר להם שמשון נקיתי הפעם מפלשתים כי עשה אני עמם רעה (ד) וילך שמשון וילכד שלש מאות שועלים‬: ‫ויקח לפדים ויפן זנב אל זנב וישם לפיד אחד בין שני הזנבות בתוך (ה) ויבער אש בלפידים וישלח בקמות פלשתים‬ ‫ויבער מגדיש ועד קמה ועד כרם זית (ו) ויאמרו פלשתים מי עשה זאת ויאמרו שמשון חתן התמני כי לקח את אשתו‬ ‫וישרפו אותה ואת אביה באש (ז) ויאמר להם שמשון אם תעשון כזאת כי אם נקמתי‬:‫ויתנה למרעהו ויעלו פלשתים‬ ‫בכם ואחר אחדל (ח) ויך אותם שוק על ירך מכה גדולה וירד וישב בסעיף סלע עיטם‬
And Samson said unto them: 'This time shall I be quits with the Philistines, when I do them a mischief.' 4 And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned tail to tail, and put a torch in the midst between every two tails. 5 And when he had set the torches on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks and the standing corn, and also the oliveyards. 6 Then the Philistines said: 'Who hath done this?' And they said: 'Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he hath taken his wife, and given her to his companion.' And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire. 7 And Samson said unto them: 'If ye do after this manner, surely I will be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.' 8 And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter; and he went down and dwelt in the cleft of the rock of Etam “Jim Gordon: This guy did deliver us one of the city's biggest crime lords. Loeb: No one takes the law into their own hands in my city. Understand?” -Batman Begins Is Shimshon Good or Bad?

‫ה"ח‬/ ‫תלמוד ירושלמי מסכת ראש השנה פרק ב דף נח טור ב‬ ‫הקיש שלשה קלי עולם לשלשה אבירי עולם ללמדך שבית דינו של גדעון ושל יפתח ושל שמשון שקולין כנגד משה‬ ‫ואהרן ושמואל‬
The passuk compares three “lightweights” to three “heavyweights” to tell you that the Batei Din of Gidon, and of Yiftach, and of Shimshon, is equal to those of Moshe, Aharon, and Shmuel. Why?

‫ט) ויעלו פלשתים ויחנו ביהודה וינטשו בלחי (י) ויאמרו איש יהודה למה עליתם עלינו ויאמרו לאסור את שמשון‬: ‫עלינו לעשות לו כאשר עשה לנו (יא) וירדו שלשת אלפים איש מיהודה אל סעיף סלע עיטם ויאמרו לשמשון הלא‬ ‫ידעת כי משלים בנו פלשתים ומה זאת עשית לנו ויאמר להם כאשר עשו לי כן עשיתי להם (יב) ויאמרו לו לאסרך‬ ‫ירדנו לתתך ביד פלשתים ויאמר להם שמשון השבעו לי פן תפגעון בי אתם (יג) ויאמרו לו לאמר לא כי אסר נאסרך‬ ‫ונתנוך בידם והמת לא נמיתך ויאסרהו בשנים עבתים חדשים ויעלוהו מן הסלע‬
9 Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves against Lehi. 10 And the men of Judah said: 'Why are ye come up against us?' And they said: 'To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.' 11 Then three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the

rock of Etam, and said to Samson: 'Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what then is this that thou hast done unto us?' And he said unto them: 'As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.' 12 And they said unto him: 'We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines.' And Samson said unto them: 'Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.' 13 And they spoke unto him, saying: 'No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand; but surely we will not kill thee.' And they bound him with two new ropes, and brought him up from the rock.

1. How does Shimshon compare to Ehud, for example? 2. What does Shimshon fail to do? 3. What aspects of his character may account for this failure?
"We have created a society where we freely allow men and women to take the law into their own hands. Cape or no cape, brightly colored logo or not, A superhero is a vigilante who is taking the law into his own hands....We empower other people to fight our battles for us, and then we wonder why it is we feel so powerless in our lives. To allow one man to act as judge, jury, and executioner, to allow him to roam the streets to do as he pleases, with no worry from the police, from the FBI, the government, anybody, is a ridiculous shame to the concept of justice" -From "Powers", By Brian Michael Bendis, Former Rosh Melechet Yad

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