The next king of Israel confronts his oldest son, Amnon, who has raped his youngest daughter.
“As a father knows the heart of his sons even if he does not want to believe what he knows, I knew all that had occurred.

There are so many stories about David that it was difficult to choose just one. And once I chose it, this story was one of the most difficult to write.

But as with many of the others, I turned the focus to the very human interactions within a family, the moment when David confronted Amnon, away from the trappings of his kingship. While David could never forget that he was the king, in this moment he was, most importantly, a father, needing to care in different ways for his daughter and his son..

This resonated with some interactions that I had with my own father over the years. He was a psychotherapist, historian, and teacher, and those parts of his identity were always involved in our relationship. But when needed, he could step back from all that and be simply my father, making appropriate and compassionate decisions in that role.

I am also reminded of some bosses that I have had, and some people that I have seen acting in that role toward others, and how deeply they had to reach within themselves and outside the strict definitions of their positions in order to do what was best for everyone. I remember being a supervisor at a book store, and see how difficult it can be to make decisions that respect both the customer and the company. The balance between strength and kindness is hard to maintain, but according to Jewish mysticism, it is precisely at that point of balance that beautylies.


Has someone for whom you were responsible ever hurt another person? Have you been able to take the right action (or, if appropriate, refrain from action) to act with strength and kindness in the situation? Seeing the result of their actions and of your response, do you wish that you had acted differently?

Are there situations where the needs and concerns of the victim completely rule out any concern for the person who had acted against him or her?

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