Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Chukas (Numbers 19-22)
Shoftim (Deut. 16-21)
17:14 When you come to the land that Hashem your G-D gives you and (when you) inherit and settle in it and (when) you shall say (that) I will appoint a king upon myself …
17:15 Appoint shall you appoint a king upon yourselves that Hashem your G-D chooses …
17:18 And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom he shall write a second (copy) of this Torah...
17:19 And it shall be with him and he shall read from it all the days of his life …
17:20 So that his heart does not become haughty over his brethren …
Every Jew is required to write a personal copy of the Torah. (According to the Oral Torah, this can be fulfilled today by purchasing Torah books to study from. And a Jew is required to study Torah all the days of his life.)
Here, the Torah appears to place upon the Jewish king a greater emphasis on Torah study and connections. And it appears that a reason for the greater emphasis is so that his heart does not become haughty over his brethren.
Humility is a spiritual need and goal for all.
Albeit that Torah study has great power to bring a person to higher levels of perfection, is there a special relationship between the Jewish king and the challenge for him to maintain humility?
The following came to mind.
An American president is an honored person. Presidential honor is an entitlement, it's supported and expected. But legal obligations that are imposed on the citizens to give honor are mostly non-existent. If the President walks into a room and someone refuses to respectfully stand up for him/her then that person will not be arrested.
And the president can certainly forego the honor that is due. So if you meet the president and he tells you to address him by his first name from now on, then you may certainly do so.
Torah rules for the Jewish king are entirely different. Citizens are obligated to give him honor by law.
Furthermore, the Talmud says that the Jewish king may not forgo the honor that is due. We derive this from the words, "Appoint shall you appoint a king upon yourselves …." The Torah repeats the word, "appoint." This indicates that reverence that we give him is continuous. (Kesuvos 17a).
Therefore, if King David tells a person, "Just call me Dave" then the person may not do so. Rather, he must continue to address the king as "My master the king." The moment after the king waives the privilege we again have an obligation to honor him.
Perhaps the Torah is especially concerned about the king's spiritual need for humility because the Torah itself assigns him an intensive level of honor from his citizens.
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