Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why a King? Why "Melech" haMoshiach?

Minui Melech -- Appointing a King
by the Tzemach Tzedek, 3rd Rebbe of Lubavitch

Explaining the commandment to appoint a King over Israel, as it states "put a King over yourself." (Devarim 17:15)


What is the Purpose of a Jewish King?
We need to understand why Shmuel HaNovi (the prophet) became upset with the Jews when they asked him "give us a King" (Shmuel I 8:6). Even Hashem said to him "it is not you they have rejected, but Me...." What is the reason for this anger? After all, isn't this one of Hashem's commandments to appoint a King? As the sages say, there are 3 commandments incumbent upon the Jews when the entered the land, one of which is to appoint a King (Sanhedrin 20b).

The root of what is intended by appointing a King is that in him and by him will the Jew be botel (nullified) to Hashem. Because all Jews must be botel to the King and his officers. The King himself is botel to G-dliness...this is the main thing about a King, the reason he is called Melech (King) -- that he is a chariot (the meaning of a chariot is that it is nullified to the will of its driver) to midas malchuso in Atztilus (he is botel to the characteristic of G-d's Kingship in its purest degree). Since the King is botel to the Kingship of heaven, and the Jews are botel to the King -- this makes the Jew (via the King) botel to G-dliness.

This is the constant job of the King -- to enable the created beings to be botel to Hashem through their being botel to him and him being botel to Hashem. There is also the simple meeaning of appointing a King, that he should guide the nation appropriately. Because without leadership, "men would eat each other alive." The King dispenses justice and thus maintains society.

These two reasons for appointing a King are not applicable to the sages among the Jews, because among Jewish souls we find two types:
  1. Those who are not sages, who are empty of Torah and G-dly wisdom, but nonetheless they are full of mitzvos and are as careful as can be in turning away from evil and turning towards good, even in the finest details of Rabbinic decrees. This situation is due to the source of their soul, which is not suited to receiving the level of Torah and G-dly wisdom, only the level of deeds. This is exemplified by those who learn from a Rabbi, but as soon as they leave they forget everything and become fully involved in the details of day-to-day life;
  2. The high souls, sages who are able to master Torah, contemplating Hashem's wisdom and His Torah day and night.
Thus, according to the two reasons for appointing a King stated above, we find that only the simple souls need a King to guide them properly. One for whom Torah is his main activity, who can discern the permitted from the forbidden, for whom it is all as clear to him as the sun, a tzaddik who would never purposely sin -- according to the second reason (keeping the social order), what need does he have for a King? He only needs a prophet or a judge, like Shmuel. Nor is the first reason (nullification to Hashem via the King) applicable to him so much; this level is only applicable to those who are not sages and who lack bitul [nullification] in their essence above. This lack of bitul is the reason why they are not sages, because G-dly wisdom is the level of bitul, and those who are proud are fooled because G-dly wisdom cannot penetrate their "self-ness". Thus, they need a King to whom they can nullify their "self-ness". But sages are botel to Hashem in the root of their souls Above -- they have no need for a King to whom to be nullified, because they themselves are nullified. High souls like the Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the holy Zohar) are above the level of having a flesh and blood King, because sages such as he are called "children" to Hashem rather than "servants". This is why Shmuel did not want to give them a King -- because he wanted all Jews to be on this level. Then they wouldn't need a human King at all.


Dovid Hamelech -- The Exemplary Jewish King

Dovid Hamelech (King David) was completely botel, a chariot. He guided the children of Israel like a shepherd, watching each and every sheep, providing spiritual needs and physical needs. He did this In a way unlike Kings who followed him. He was neshoma klolis, an all-inclusive soul. The guidance of the King is over every detail and deed of his people, and nothing is concealed from him.


Why Will Moshiach be a King?

We still need to understand why it is that Moshiach will also be a King, because based on what is explained above it seems difficult to understand. At the time of the coming of Moshiach, may it be speedily in our days, all Jews will be sages, as it is stated "the entire world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d" (Isaiah 11:9), and that "no longer will a man teach his brother" (Jeremiah 31:33). If so, why is a King needed?

It is also difficult to understand the commandment in the Torah of appointing a King. After all, there is one Torah for all Jews, and therefore even sages have this commandment--which is difficult to understand based on what we explained above.

The truth is that level of Kingship applies even to sages, even when they are ones who contemplate Hashem's Torah and do not need the bitul of a servant, as described previously. The Kingship that applies to sages is a higher level of Kingship. The explanation is that the Torah is limitless, and there are endless levels, in the manner of one elevation after another in comprehending Torah. And in the time of Moshiach, there will be a revelation of G-dliness with comprehension of the inner Torah through Moshiach, who will teach the inner Torah to the entire people -- even that which is presently concealed. It goes without saying that he himself will understand even more, since he won't be able to reveal and teach everything that he knows to the entire nation because they simply won't be able to absorb it.

Because of this (the fact that he will understand more than the rest of the nation) he is called a King, in the same way that a King here in this world is only a King insofar as his subjects are botel to him -- namely, that his understanding is above their understanding. After all, if something can be understood as having a good reason, one doesn't need a King's decree in the matter! Because even without the King's command this thing would be correct in and of itself and would appear good in the eyes of the (King's) subject. Rather, the decree of the King only applies to matters which go against his subject's intellect, and only due to his being botel to the King does he nullify his own will to that of the King -- because he doesn't know what is in the heart of the King (he doesn't know the reason why the King made this decree). This is called being botel to that which is above his own wisdom -- that even though the decree of the King doesn't make sense to him, he nonetheless obeys it. He does this because the King thinks it's right and surely the King has a good reason.

The reason for the commandments (including such super-rational commandments as the Red Heifer) will be revealed in the future by Moshiach, though to him much more will be revealed, without end relative to what he can reveal to the people. Thus, Moshiach will be both a Rav (teacher) and a Melech (King) over Israel, even as all Jews will be on the level of sages to such a degree that even the reasons for commandments will be revealed to them. But Moshiach will not reveal everything that will be revealed to him, and his knowledge will be above the Jews; thus, he will reign as a King, because Kingship is that which is above the intellect of the recipient.

Thus, we see that Moshiach will be a Rav because he teaches the deepest secrets of the meanings of the commandments, but also a King because his knowledge will be so much greater than even those on the highest levels.


From Derech Mitzvosecha by the Tzemach Tzedek, the 3rd Rebbe of Lubavitch
available
in Hebrew and in English

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