Parashas Shoftim

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Do you Really Want Mashiach?

Taste of Talmud

“You shall surely place upon yourself a king” (Deut. 17:15).  Who is worthy to be king?  In tractate Kiddushin (76b) it says: As long as your mother is Jewish you may be appointed as the King of the Jewish Nation. This means that any Jew from any tribe has the potential to be anointed king.  This seems to contradict the promise which was made to King David by G-d stating that the kingdom would never leave the house of David.  The Raavad resolves this dilemma by clarifying that if a Jew from another family were to become king, his descendants would only be the vice-king in relationship to King David’s progeny.  The Kesef Mishnah in his commentary to the Rambam says that it would theoretically have been possible for any Jew to have ascended to the throne; however, only King David and his descendants have a guarantee from G-d that the kingdom will not leave their family.  This guaranteed King David that the kingship would eventually be returned to him.  The Even Ha’azel in his commentary to the Rambam (1:4 of the laws of kings) says that the promise G-d gave King David made it that there is a Mitzvah to appoint a king from the family of King David to fill any vacancy.

Taste of Halacha

The bubble of those who calculate the end of time should be popped (Rambam 12:2 in the laws of Kings).  The Rambam includes this detail as part of the 12th principle of faith as clarified in his commentary to the Mishna, in the 10th chapter of Sanhedrin.  “The 12th principle of faith is that one should believe and convey the truth to others that the days of Messiah will come and even if he tarries to wait for him.  One should not predict a time for his arrival nor try to make logical conclusions from verses as to figure out his time of arrival, as our sages have said: ‘Tipach Ruchan Shel Michashvei Kaitzin’ (Sanhedrin 97a).  One should believe that the Messiah will have greater attributes than all of the kings that came before him as it says in the words of the prophets from Moses, to Malachi.  One who doubts this truth or has a lesser appreciation of the Messiah’s greatness denies the words of our Torah that describes him explicitly in the section that deals with Bilam and in Parashas Nitzavim.  Included in this principle is the fact that Jewish kings are to be descended from King David and his son Solomon.  One who disputes this family’s right to the kingdom has denied G-d and the words of His prophets.”  The Bnei Yissaschar notes that it is permitted to make general statements as to the imminent arrival of the Messiah.

Taste of Parasha

It says in this week’s Parasha, Som tasim alecha melech (You shall surely place upon yourself a king) (Deut. 17:15).   How does the concept of a Jewish King differ from that of a dictator, a ruler, or a president?  A Jewish king is one that is accepted by the people, respected by the people, and brings out the best from all of the people.  Rabbi Aharon Lopiansky Shlita explains a perplexing statement made by our sages. “Aiyn Melech B’lo Am,” there is no king without a nation. Ostensibly, this could be said of a father or a ruler as well, but it is not.  What unique aspect of a king are our sages conveying with this statement?  Rabbi Lopiansky explains that the position of king is unique in that his relationship is dependant on the people willingly accepting him. Only when the nation willingly accepts the complete soveigrnty of a king can it be said that they have a king as opposed to a ruler, president, or dictator.  Only then is it possible for the king to marshal all of the resources of the nation towards the goal of serving the King of all Kings.  By focusing on this Mitzvah, we move a little closer to fulfilling the Mitzvah of accepting G-d as King over us on Rosh Hashanah.

About tasteofyeshiva

RABBI YAIR FRIEDMAN teaches at The Torah School of Greater Washington, and Yeshiva L' Baalei Batim. He is the owner and director of Camp Gevaldig LLC.
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