Every once in a while you feel like a failure. Maybe you failed a particular test; you blew it, or in general you’re at a stage in life where you realize that I’m not quite who I could be, who I should be, who I would be. One of the great life lessons is how to deal with that.
I’d like to share with you an interesting observation. David Hamelech (King David), when he was king of Israel, said to Hashem bechanani (test me). And Hashem said I will test you, but it’s going to be an incredibly difficult test. The test in fact was in the area of arayos (illicit relations). The Navi (Prophets) tells us that David told his guard bring me eishes (the wife of) Uri Hachiti, bring me that woman. The guard said wait, she’s a married woman. And David Hamelech lived with an eishes ish (married woman), with Batsheva.
Now, to understand what happened you have to listen to Shmuz #43, Soton Out of the Box, to understand that this was not a normal test. Hashem made a supernatural situation where David was pulled, almost like by electromagnet. But at the end of the day, David failed. But he didn’t just fail — he failed his biggest life test. And he was embarrassed to the extent that’s hard to imagine. If you read the words of tachanun (supplication prayer), we say them daily, yagati be’anchasi (I am weary from my sighing), Hashem I filled my bed with tears and my trembling was so great. David said about himself that his skin was white, there was no blood. He was so mortally embarrassed; he couldn’t stand that sense of bushah (embarrassment). As a melech b’Yisrael (king in Israel), the entire Jewish Nation knew that he failed, that he lived with a married woman.
So here’s the question: What bridge did David jump off of? Right, obviously he killed himself — at that point it’s done, we’re finished, no more. The answer is that he didn’t jump off of any bridge. As a matter of fact, if you count the seven greatest human beings who ever lived, it’s Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon and David. Of the seven greatest human beings who ever walked the face of the planet, one of them is David. And do you know why? Because David Hamelech recognized that he failed. David Hamelech recognized that he blew it. And normally what happens to a person is in that state there’s a voice inside them that says it’s over, we’re done with. David Meshicho (who Hashem has anointed) — forget it, that’s no more, you’re dirt, you’re slime, you’re worthless.
But that’s not what David Hamelech did. David Hamelech had this incredible ability to look in the mirror, stare at the eyes looking back at him and say the words I failed, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. I messed up, I blew it, I failed this test, but that doesn’t make me a failure. I blew it, I have to do teshuvah, I have to improve, I have to work on this situation, but I as a human being still have great worth, still have great abilities. There are many things that I do well, many talents. Yes, I failed this test, but that doesn’t make me a failure.
That dichotomy, to be able to hold both thoughts clearly in mind, is very rare. Either a person says the sin is nothing and it’s okay and it doesn’t matter, or they say I’m nothing and I don’t matter. But that ability to say yes, I confront the reality that I messed up, I failed, but that doesn’t make me a failure is what allowed David Hamelech to become the great human being that he became.
That is one of the great life lessons, to be man enough to say I messed up, I blew it — I’m going to correct it, I’m going to do whatever I can to improve in that area and in general — but still being aware of the fact that I have importance and significance; the fact that I failed doesn’t make me a failure.