Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Who Is The King?

Rav Zweig 

“He became King over Yeshurun” (33:5) The Ibn Ezra renders the verse, “Vayehi bishurun melech” – “He became King over Yeshurun (i.e. Israel)”, as a reference to Moshe being the King of Israel.1 The Ramban points out that this interpretation contradicts the following Talmudic discourse: A major component of the Rosh Hashona prayers is a section known as “malchiyos”, which declares the existence and total sovereignty of Hashem. One of the verses that the Talmud lists which should be recited within this section is the verse, “Vayehi bishurun melech”2,3 Clearly, the King being referred to in the verse is Hashem, not Moshe. How does the Ibn Ezra resolve this apparent contradiction? 

A more striking contradiction can be found in Rashi’s commentary on the Torah. When explaining the verse “He became King over Yeshurun”, Rashi defines “King” as “Hashem”.4 

In Parshas Beha’aloscha, Hashem commands that a set of trumpets be fashioned for Moshe’s exclusive use. Rashi comments that they were used in a manner befitting a king. Here Rashi cites the verse, “He became King over Yeshurun” to prove that Moshe had the status of king.5 

The Talmud teaches that, although a scholar may waive the honor which is due to him, a king is not permitted to do so.6 The Mordechai, one of the early Talmudic codifiers, sheds some light on the reason for this. A scholar, who earns the right to be honored, may relinquish this right. However, the honor due to a king is Hashem’s honor: “ki laHashem hamlucha” – “For sovereignty belongs to Hashem”.7 Therefore, a king has no right to waive the honor due to him.8 The Jewish notion of monarchy is that the king functions as a conduit for Hashem’s sovereignty over the world. This is what is meant by sovereignty belonging to Hashem. Moshe Rabbeinu epitomizes the notion of the Jewish king being the conduit for Hashem’s sovereignty over this world. As Chazal say “Shechina midaberes mitoch grono” – “The Divine Presence speaks through Moshe’s mouth.”9 Therefore, there is no contradiction in interpreting the verse “He became King over Yeshurun” as referring to both Hashem and Moshe, for Moshe’s sovereignty is, in reality, the sovereignty of Hashem. 

3.Rosh Hashona 32b 
6.Kiddushin 32b 
7.Tehillim 22:29 
8.Gittin Perek Hanizakin see also Maharsha Kiddushin 32b 
9.See Mechilta Shemos 19:19