Shmuel Hanavi, the prophet Samuel, presided over the anointment of the first Jewish king, Saul and his successor David.
Destined for greatness from a tender age, his life was dedicated to the service of the nation.
He was greatly beloved for his commitment and his integrity and provided the nation with much-needed stability as the reign of King Saul turned sour.
Samuel was never afraid to say things as they were, regardless of who he was speaking to.
After King Saul violated the Divine command by sparing the Amalekite monarch Agag (whose subsequent descendant Haman met his end at the hands of Saul’s descendant Mordechai), he seeks to appease God through a multitude of sacrifices.
Samuel’s response rings in our ears until today. ‘’But Samuel said: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As much as in obedience to the Lord’s command? Surely, obedience is better than sacrifice, Compliance than the fat of rams.’’ ( Samuel 1 15:22).
Samuel teaches us a moral message that lies at the heart of Jewish life. One cannot appease God as if He were some Pagan deity who needs our service.
Our responsibility is to listen to the voice of God and fulfil our responsibilities accordingly.
Perhaps for this reason, Judaism places such a great emphasis on listening as we recite daily, ‘Shema Yisrael’, “Listen Jewish People.”
Samuel teaches us never to make the mistake of thinking that extra piety in selected and convenient areas of life can compensate for a lack of desire to do the right thing and fulfil our responsibilities to the maximum.
Rabbi Roodyn is education director of Jewish Futures Trust