The Midrash states: "G‑d had three 'finds'…one of them was David, as it says (in Psalms 89:21), 'I found David, my servant.'" (Bereishit Rabba 29:3) - "[And] where did I find him? In Sodom!" (Bereishit Rabba 50:10)


A Jewish king is…very different than the autocratic king of the nations of the world….

Literally meaning "royalty", Malchut is the seventh sefira, the culmination and distillation of the previous six sefirot. It is the female principle, the archetypal recipient sefira, and the Zohar describes it as "having nothing of her own".

A Jewish king is the embodiment of the sefira of malchut and therefore very different than the autocratic king of the nations of the world. In contrast to King Ahasuerus, for example (or Saddam Hussein, in our day and age), whose authority was not subject to any guidelines or legal standards, a Jewish king serves as a living example to the nation (and thus, to the world) of total commitment to the service of G‑d, with total subservience and self-nullification to G‑d's will.

Jewish royalty must have moral courage and strength and nobility of character….

Jewish royalty must have moral courage and strength and nobility of character. He must have the ability both to be judgmental as well as compassionate. King David, the father of the Jewish house of royalty, when engrossed in the study of Torah was described by the Sages as: "adino haetzni" - "delicate as a worm" ["adin" is Hebrew for delicate]. When he fought in battle, he was "tough as wood" ["etz" is Hebrew for wood]. The same David who was a psalmist also declared, "I will pursue my foes and not return until they are totally vanquished." (Moed Katan 16b)

David's Lineage

King David himself lived a life full of trials and tribulations literally from birth. He was shunned by his father as a bastard (see below), scorned and pursued by King Saul, and weathered his son Absalom's rebellion while King of Israel. Yet he never flinched or complained, instead writing 150 songs of praise to the Almighty (the Book of Psalms) and meriting the crown of royalty for all generations through the time of the Future Redemption.

Indeed, David lived almost his entire life on borrowed time, as the Midrash explains that Adam was originally destined to live for 1000 years, as decreed: "today you will die."1 When Adam saw all the souls that were destined to come down to the world, he saw that King David was destined to live for only 7 hours - so he gave him 70 years of his own; Adam lived therefore for 930 years, and King David lived for 70.

His lineage is shadowed and shameful: his father descended from Moab, a product of incest between Lot and his daughter after Sodom's destruction,2 down through Ruth, a Moabite convert.

Jacob's grandson Er (Judah's eldest son) died childless. After his brothers failed to father a namesake with Tamar (his widow),3 she resorted to consorting with Judah while in disguise. Upon being sentenced to death for her apparent lack of fidelity, she left her fate, as well as her unborn child's, completely in Judah's hands rather than shame him in public. Judah then publicly accepted responsibility for her pregnancy, saving her life as well as her unborn children (she was carrying twins). He merited Israel's house of royalty for all generations through this noble act, as David is descended from Peretz, one of the products of that union.

David…was believed to be a bastard by his father and brothers….

Years later, when the Jewish nation traversed the wilderness on the way to the Land of Israel, the Moabite nation refused them passage through their land and was thereafter prohibited to marry Jews. During Jesse's lifetime, the judges debated if this prohibition applied to Moabite women as well as to the men.

According to the Shelah, Jesse - the foremost righteous one of his generation and a member of Great Assembly - separated from his wife towards the end of his life due to this controversy, declaring himself unfit for a Jewess. His wife, however, did not accept this decree and, similar to Tamar, secretly disguised herself as his concubine one night.

The product of this union was David, who was believed to be a bastard by his father and brothers until the truth came to light 28 years later, when Samuel was sent by G‑d to anoint David, son of Jesse, as king after King Saul failed to completely exterminate Amalek as commanded.

What a shady past for King David and all future kings of Israel, including King Mashiach! Is this the ancestry befitting royalty?!

Royal Characteristics

The higher the source of the G‑dly spark of an object, the lower its status in this world….

According to Kabbala, the higher the source of the G‑dly spark of an object, the lower its status in this world and the harder it is to be revealed. Therefore, the line of descent of the king of Israel came to being from apparent disrepute, through shameful (yet not sinful) relationships.

In addition, David appeared before Samuel as "ruddy [the same word as used to describe Esau] with beautiful eyes". Samuel was appalled and asked, "He is ruddy like Esau - is he a murderer like Esau?" G‑d reassured him that, whereas Esau murdered on his own behest, David killed only on Sanhedrin's command - as if to say "ruddy, yes, but with beautiful eyes" [referring to the judges, who are called the "eyes" of the nation].

Thus, malchut contains two opposite qualities - exaltedness [in Hebrew, "hitnasut"] together with humility [in Hebrew, "shiflut"]: when David battled against Goliath, he stood firm and proud; when bringing the Holy Ark back to its proper place, he sang and hopped and danced in its honor "like one of the idlers" - as Michal (King Saul's daughter) pronounced.

(We see an example of this unusual combination of qualities also in later days in Rabbi Israel Ruzhin, who lived with the physical grandeur and splendor of royalty, yet his golden shoes were entirely without soles and his feet bled after dancing in the snow in honor of the Sanctification of the Moon. See story: Forty Days and Forty Nights) Light emanating from darkness is all the more wondrous….

Malchut is described in the Zohar as "having nothing of her own", as it receives all that it has from the other sefirot, comparable to the moon's light, which is received in its entirety from the sun. Nonetheless, malchut is the final revelation of the Divine Light and indeed the purpose for which the entire process began. Divine service means totally accepting upon oneself "the yoke of the kingdom of heaven". The earthly Jewish king is the embodiment and the epitome of serving G‑d, the supreme authority.

Malchut also corresponds to the mouth and is often referred to as "the world of speech", as speech is the function allowing one to exercise authority and "kingship", the literal meaning of malchut. Thus, it is most fitting for King David to be known for his singing to calm King Saul and for writing the Book of Psalms, hymns of praise to G‑d.

Darkness from Light

King David was one of G‑d's "finds". Finding something indicates either that it was lost or that is discovered in a most unexpected place, such as finding a diamond in the trash. Light emanating from an illustrious chain is wonderful; light emanating from darkness is all the more wondrous. In addition, the light being itself a product of darkness is therefore more ever-lasting, since the darkness has been transformed into light and not merely vanquished.

The three Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - represent the sefirot of chesed, gevura, and tiferet, respectively, and are described the "chariot of G‑d"; David, representing malchut, is the descendent whom the Patriarchs chose to be the fourth wheel of the chariot (Zohar Deut. 262b). In the time of the Future Redemption, there will be a special feast for the righteous of all generations; each will honor the next one for the honor of leading the Grace After Meals, and, according to the Maharsha, King David will be the one so honored, being considered even greater than the Patriarchs.

Kabbala teaches that the higher the place that the sparks fell from in the Shattering of the Vessels, the lower they descended; the enormous holiness contained in the spark of the final redeemer could only be contained in a chain of disrepute. A descendent of this bloodline will be the one capable of ushering in the demise of all evil in the time of the Final Redemption - as King Mashiach, the son of David.

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