Weekly Inspiration

What Is A Jewish King?
September 7th, 2023
What Is A Jewish King?

After one of my recent speeches, someone remarked how unusual it is to hear someone who “still believes in Moshiach.” 

My friends, is there anything else to think about? It amazes me how people speak about other subjects as if life is going on as usual. We are approaching Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, days on which we must focus on reality. 

Life is not going on as usual. 

Just as, at the end of Shibud Mitzraim, it would have been unrealistic to divert our focus from the Ten Plagues and the advent of Moshe Rabbeinu, so today it strikes me as completely unrealistic to focus on anything other than the imminent collapse of our current civilization and the coming of the Final Redemption. 

In Mitzraim the majority of Bnai Yisroel failed to follow Moshe Rabbeinu, which is certainly why the majority so tragically failed to be liberated when the time arrived for Redemption. It is very possible that the same tragic situation prevails today and that is why we do not focus on Moshiach. 

I want to say from the bottom of my heart that I believe the end of our current Golus is very near. The social fabric of a world civilization which we once regarded as “advanced” and “stable” is being ripped apart. There is no peace, no unity, no friendship. How can “the civilized world” retain its existence under such circumstances? 

This is why I see it as obvious that a new world is approaching, a world in which Hashem will be crowned King. “On that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One.” When conditions in Mitzraim reached Mem-Tes Shaare Tumah, the result was either destruction or Redemption, depending on where one stood. For Mitzraim, it was destruction, and for those loyal to Hashem it was Redemption!

So it must be in our days! Let’s try not to put our heads in the sand.

The theme of Rosh Hashanah is Malchus. There is nothing but Hashem. If Hashem is not crowned as King, then there is simply no life. But how do we crown Him? 

When the Chofetz Chaim was old, they brought him to the yeshiva for Selichos“When they came to Shema Kolainu, the bachurim shouted … their cries sounding like the roar of a raging sea!  The Chofetz Chaim [whose hearing was weak] … turned to the bachur standing next to him and said, ‘Vos shraiyen zei? Why are they screaming like that?’ 

“The bachur shouted in the Chofetz Chaim’s ear, ‘They want to do teshuvah!’

“[To which the Chofetz Chaim replied,] ‘Who’s keeping them from doing teshuvah? But is this how to do teshuva? Teshuva means regretting the past, confessing our sins and resolving not to sin again. Where does the shouting come in?’” (Rav Galinsky on Selichos, Israel Bookshop Publications) 

My friends, there is a lot to learn here. 

We don’t need to scream, but we need to do teshuva. Screaming is easy; teshuva is not. 

When we crown Hashem King, then we will hopefully crown Moshiach as king. 

What exactly is a Jewish king? 

Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch zt”l clarifies what we are waiting for. 

A Jewish king is not charged with conquering land. Only after the conquest and possession has the moment come for the king to reign. That is why the Torah states, “When you will come to the Land that Hashem your G-d gives you and you will take possession of it and dwell in it… you shall surely place over you a king.” (Dvarim 17:14-15) According to Chazal“Scripture specified …. [that monarchy does not apply until] after possession and settlement [of the Land].” (Kiddushin 37b)

What then is the King’s task?

“The function of your head of state will be to stand out as the first among all Jews loyal to the Torah, to shine forth personally in all the moral nobility of this allegiance to the Torah. Imbued with the spirit of [that] mission, he will seek to win over all hearts and minds to this spirit in thought, word and deed. With the power of his word, his personal example and his personal prestige, he will combat anything that would violate this spirit. You are to place all your resources at his command so that he may fight for and defend your national mission internally. Indeed, this is the true vocation of the king in Israel.” This is in contrast to the tragic situation which existed during the era of the Shoftim, when “there was no king in Israel [and] each man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on Dvarim 17:14)

My friends, when the shofar sounds and our hearts are trembling, let us daven with all of our strength for the only thing which can save us, the day when we crown Hashem King of His World and the day when the descendant of Dovid ben Yishai comes to rule over Hashem’s Children. 

“Ki mi Tzion taitzai Torah u’dvar Hashem mi Yerushalayim…. [on that day] Torah will go forth from Tzion and the word of G-d from Yerushalayim.” 


Malchus: Kingship, monarchy
Mem Tes Shaare Tumah: The 49th level of impurity,
the degree to which Ancient Egypt sunk 
Mitzraim: Biblical Egypt 
Shibud Mitzraim: The slavery in Biblical Egypt

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