II Samuel 18:5
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5  The king gave orders to Yoav, Avishai, and Ittai: “Deal gently with my boy Avshalom, for my sake.” All the troops heard the king give the order about Avshalom to all the officers.

vai-TZAV ha-ME-lekh et yo-AV v’-et a-vee-SHAI v’-et i-TAI lay-MOR l’-at LEE la-NA-ar l’-av-sha-LOM v’-khol ha-AM sha-m’-U b’-tza-VOT ha-ME-lekh et kol ha-sa-REEM al d’-VAR av-sha-LOM

ה  וַיְצַו הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת־יוֹאָב וְאֶת־אֲבִישַׁי וְאֶת־אִתַּי לֵאמֹר לְאַט־לִי לַנַּעַר לְאַבְשָׁלוֹם וְכָל־הָעָם שָׁמְעוּ בְּצַוּׂת הַמֶּלֶךְ אֶת־כָּל־הַשָּׂרִים עַל־דְּבַר אַבְשָׁלוֹם׃

 18:5   Deal gently with my boy Avshalom, for my sake

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner (b. 1943)

King David orders that his rebellious son Avshalom be captured unharmed. On the surface, this seems shocking, as Avshalom was attempting to kill his father. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner notes that throughout David’s struggles, he retains his attribute of mercy. Thus, though he has no intention of surrendering to King Shaul who wants to kill him, David nevertheless respects him (see I Samuel 24). Similarly, he also still loves his son Avshalom, though Avshalom wants to murder him. The Sages (Yevamot 79a) consider the attribute of mercy to be one of the hallmarks of the Children of Israel. Failing to act with mercy is cause for punishment and even exile from the Land of Israel, as it says in Hoshea (4:1-3), “Because there is no honesty and no goodness and no obedience to Hashem in the land… For that, the earth is withered…”

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II Samuel 18:5

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