Surmounting The Challenge

Elul 1, 5783
August 18, 2023
Candlelighting Time 7:43 PM

It is interesting to note that although when the people approached Shmuel the prophet to appoint a king he was upset nonetheless there is a mitzvah to have a king. There seems to be a paradoxical situation where we shouldn’t have it yet if we do, then it’s a mitzvah. Furthermore, the Talmud states that there were three mitzvos that we were commanded to do when we entered into the Land of Israel. One was to appoint a king, destroy the nation of Amalek and to build the Beis Hamikdash. What is the connecting factor of these three mitzvos? Can’t we just have a king and independently attack Amalek and build the Beis Hamikdash when we are ready? Furthermore, the Torah states that we should accept a king that was chosen by Hashem. It would seem from the verse that Hashem does want us to have a king!

K’sav Sofer explains that the king that is chosen is actually chosen by Hashem. We must accept him based upon his credentials, which certainly will be majestic, but it is basically out of our hands. As in the case of Shaul, the prophet Shmuel arranged for his kingship to be realized. Furthermore, we must fear him. There are two ways that one can fear another. Either because the other person is powerful and has the ability to punish another if they do not obey. However, there is another path that can be chosen, it is based upon the royal and regal qualities that the king possesses. We are commanded to fear our king because of his imperial and majestic qualifications. Clearly, the office of the king in our nation is based upon the personal character of that individual which will impose upon others to stand in awe of their leader. Obviously, that person will possess not just a personality that is gratifying and assuring, but additionally his spirit will be one that is captivating due to its core of substance and true essence.

Adding to the magnificence of a Jewish king, K’sav Sofer mentions that the Torah states that the king will come from admits his fellow men. What does that clause mean to complement. He explains that in a regular political situation those who rise to the higher and highest echelons of government do so by beginning at lower more humble levels of governmental involvement. When they start to improve their political career, they may eventually become such a rising star that they indeed assume full control of their country. However, in our nation, it is not about politics. Rather, the king is running a country based upon Torah and mitzvos. Therefore, one with that capability will be ‘summoned’ by Hashem to lead the country further in its rich legacy of promoting Torah and mitzvos. This is how kingship looks for us as opposed to the nations of the world where strife and mudslinging is the route to success in their ranks.  

Now we can appreciate why when a king rules over the nation then we can destroy Amalek and build the Beis Hamikdash. Our arch enemy Amalek is not just an adversary rather they represent the epitome of evil, they are totally antithetical of sanctity and purity which defines our nation. The Beis Hamikdash is the repository of Hashem’s presence and that obviously displays the sanctity and purity of our people. Those two incredibly important achievements are only possible when our direction is for the sake of Heaven. 


We are commanded to be ‘wholesome’ with Hashem. As Rashi points out we must not attempt to predict the future based upon our feeble understanding of events, rather we must rely on Hashem that His plan is for our best.