20 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
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The Soul of Moshiach    

The Soul of Moshiach

No one of true greatness was ever born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Moshiach – the anointed King of Israel – leads the pack when it comes to tough lives. Look at King David…


No one of true greatness was ever born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Moshiach – the anointed King of Israel – leads the pack when it comes to tough lives. Look at King David – no one had more challenges than he did.


People with shallow learning of Torah think that King David did have a silver spoon, coming from the prestigious tribe of Judah and the prominent family of Jesse from Bethlehem-Efrat. Let's take a closer look.


Jesse, David's father, heard evil talk from evil rabbis who said that he wasn't Jewish at all, since he was a descendent of Ruth the Moabitess. These rabbis had misinterpreted the Torah, which forbids male Moabites from becoming converts, not female. Ruth's conversion was therefore 100% valid. But, their verbal venom penetrated Jesse's ears and put doubts in his heart. He thought that he might no longer be fit to be married to a Jewish woman. Yet, he didn't divorce his wife to save embarrassment in public for the clan. He separated from his wife and took her concubine as a second wife. Since the concubine was very loyal to her mistress, on the wedding night, she pulled a Rachel-Leah-type switch, thus enabling her mistress – Jesse's first wife – to spend nuptial night with him. That night, she became pregnant with David.


Meanwhile, Jesse thought he had separated from his first wife. When she became pregnant, he thought that the unborn child was the result of his wife's illicit relations with another man. And, when David was born with red hair unlike anyone else in the family, Jesse was sure that the child was a mamzer, a halachically illegitimate child born from an extramarital relationship. Again, for the sake of the clan's honor, this too was kept quiet.


In those days, the Judean Desert was a perilous place, full of snakes, scorpions, lions and bears. When little David was only three years old, Jesse sent him out to the desert to tend the flocks, knowing that the little tike wouldn't last long and allowing nature to do the dirty work for him. Jesse didn't take Hashem into account, though, for Hashem dictates nature…


We can now understand how King David killed both a bear and a lion when he was only a little boy. The lion seized one of the lambs in David's care. In his unshakable emuna and trust in Hashem, he pulled the lamb right out of the lion's mouth and then killed the lion. To commemorate the miracle that Hashem did for him, he slaughtered the lamb, sacrificed it to Hashem, and made a garment out of the lamb's hide. It was this garment that he wore when he smote Goliath.


Let's stop for a moment and visualize David's childhood: can you imagine a little boy sleeping in the bone-chilling cold of the desert night – alone – with the howling of wolves, coyotes and other wild animals? If the child wouldn't have a cardiac arrest, he'd suffer from post-trauma symptoms for the rest of his life…


Not David.


Even before David killed Goliath, Saul failed to fulfill Hashem's commandment to destroy all the Amalekites and their king. Hashem therefore decided that Saul was no longer worthy to reign, so He sent Samuel to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons as future King of Israel. Jesse presented his seven sons; Samuel in his prophetic spirit felt Hashem rejecting them one by one. Samuel was perplexed. "Are these all your sons?" he asked Jesse. Jesse said yes. Samuel said, "That cannot be! Hashem would not send me on a mission in vain. Don't you have any more sons?"


"Oh, him," Jesse grunted. "You must mean the little one – the runt; he's out tending the flocks…"


"Go bring him, right away," Samuel demanded. And Samuel saw that the lad had eyes that shined, inner strength and a holy countenance.


Hashem said to Samuel, "He is the one – anoint him!"


David describes in Psalm 118 how Hashem chose him despite the fact that his father and brothers rejected him: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner-stone."


We continue to see the nasty way his brothers spoke to him even after he was anointed (although this fact was kept from King Saul at that time, lest he would kill both David and Samuel the Prophet who anointed him). Jesse sent David to the camp of Saul's army, where his three oldest brothers Eliav, Avinadav and Shammah served, to bring them provisions and gifts for their commanders. Rather than thanking David, Eliav snarls at him for neglecting the sheep back home and looking for adventure on the front lines.


Barely a bar-mitzvah boy, David killed Goliath after he heard the coarse Philistine giant blaspheme the G-d of Israel. Just to hear Goliath's roar was enough to create cardiac failure. Fact, no one else had the courage to face him.


King Saul gave David his daughter Michal as a reward for his triumph. But, King Saul was driven insane with jealousy and chased David all over Israel trying to kill him. Michal too disdained her holy husband and disrespected him; she was punished by not having children.


We're not finished yet, but really, this should be a book. Not one, but two of King David's own sons – Absalom and Adonijah – revolted against him. King David's closest advisors, Doeg and Achitopel, plotted against him. Whole groups of people spoke slander against him. He had enemies from within and enemies from without. Again, David could have been a prime candidate for every type of neurosis and psychosis in the psychology psychiatry textbooks.


But how does he react? David took daily respite from his unbelievably heavy and incessant tribulations to talk to Hashem in private prayer every day. Rather than crying and complaining, he sang songs of praise to Hashem, enhancing them with the sweet strains of his lyre and flute. These personal prayers became the world's greatest bestseller – The Book of Psalms.


Open up a Book of Psalms: "Though I walk in the valley of death, I shall not fear, for You are with me"; "Hashem, You are my shield, my glory and my encouragement" – we can go on and on.


David's problems are far from over. He was exiled to the Kingdom of Philistia with 300 of his most loyal soldiers. While they embarked to help the King Achish of Philistia in battle, Amalek destroyed David's village of Tziklag, burning it to the ground. But, before David almost singlehandedly defeated Amalek and rescued the kidnapped, his own soldiers wanted to kill him.


Where does a mortal get the strength to endure such unheard of suffering, with one trouble following the other in rapid succession?


David accepts his terribly difficult life with complete emuna. Rebbe Natan explains that since Hashem originally created the world with the measure of stern justice (din) alone; He saw that the world could exist in such an exacting climate, so He had to dilute the stern justice with mercy, the din with rachamim. That's why we need Hashem's help in overcoming the evil inclination, which is very stern justice, midat hadin that we cannot overcome on our own.


Yet, the true tsaddikim, and especially the soul of Moshiach, strive to overcome the stern justice on their own. They therefore welcome their excruciatingly difficult lives. By doing so, they are capable of mitigating stern judgments for the entire world. Since they live lives on such a prodigious level, their prayers are capable of accomplishing anything. This explains what Rebbe Nachman teaches, that the weapon of Moshiach is prayer.


That weapon of Hashem's anointed, King David – who killed bears, lions and Goliaths – is the same weapon that his descendant – Moshiach – will soon use to disperse our physical and spiritual enemies, speedily and in our days, amen!



* * *

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