Monday, January 07, 2013

The Rising of the Fallen House of David

So begins the laws of Moshiach: "King Moshiach will rise and restore the Kingdom of David ...."

Precisely then, Moshiach's 1st mission is - to rise!  But why the ostensibly superfluous words "to rise"? What would we miss had it just said "King Moshiach will restore the Kingdom ...."? What means "to rise"?

The question is even more pronounced. Kingship, if anything, expresses itself by "sitting" rather than "standing"! For example, "And Solomon sat on the throne of Hashem" (Melachim 1:12:23), or, as we pray on Shabbat, "The King, who sits on a lofty, sublime throne". (המלך היושב על כסא רם ונשא)

(Later in this chapter we again find the term "to rise", where signs of Moshiach's identity are listed, but there it intuitively means Moshiach will "prove himself"; But here, where general goals of Moshiach are presented, the term remains enigmatic.)

Is there a source from our sages to support Rambam's assessment "Moshiach will rise"? He states, in fact, this "rising" must precede restoration of the Kingdom of David to its original state! So what does this "rising" mean?

Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo (in his sefer "יחי המלך") says Rambam's source comes from the following dialogue (Sanhedrin 96b):
"Rav Nachman said to Rav Yitzchak, 'Had you heard when arrives the son of Nefillim (of those who fell)?'
"Said he to him, 'Who is the son of Nefillim?'
"Said he, 'Moshiach'.
"'You call Moshiach son of Nefillim?!'
"'Yes, for it says, 'On that day I will raise the Sukkah of David that fell'" (Amos 9:11).
And Rashi explains "The Sukkah of David that fell" means, "because the Kingdom of David fell, Moshiach is called the son of Nefillim."

This must be why Moshiach is initially destined "to rise". Only by first reversing the prior fall will the Kingdom finally be restored!

Rabbi Wolpo probes deeper into this insight, relying on the Malbim (Amos 9:11): "The House of David (the Temple) was a permanent fixture in all its glory, passed from generation to generation. During the Second Temple, once the Kingdom of David was voided, it became a temporary structure. .. Because rulers of the seed of David sometimes ruled, the structure now resembles a temporary structure (Sukkah). Then that Sukkah too fell.. Eventually Hashem shall raise the Sukkah of David."

The Maharsha, in a similar vein, explains what Rabbi Chiya says to Rabbeinu Hakadosh (Sanhedrin 38a): "The son of David will not come until two Houses of Fathers (the position of Prince and the position of Chief of Beit Din) will be destroyed, etc. .. The intention relates to the secret of the new moon to which the Kingdom of David compares. Just as the moon after the 15th begins to lessen, so with the Kingdom of David ... On the one hand it is a good sign, for King David of Israel lives eternally ... for just as the new moon will manifest ... the Kingdom of David will again renew, as will the greatness of the rulers' families."

Both the Malbim and Maharsha speak of the nullification of the rulers (נשיאים) during the Gemora era, but thereafter the rulership of the House of David will again rise and remain steadfast, and that rising of the ancestry began when the holy Ba'al Shem Tov revealed himself, who was a spark of Moshiach - and thereby the Sukkah of David was re-established. (Rabbi Wolpo notes: "The Sukkah of David" in gematria = 494, the year in this millennium when the BS"T revealed himself.)

Our holy Rebbeim explained "The fall of the Sukkah of David" does not mean, God forbid, the nullification of the rulership ("ביטול הנשיאות"), because "David, the King of Israel, lives forever" - as an eternal king. Moreover, the Rebbe explains, and this is important to note - the "falling" is only from the aspect of the observers ("המקבלים"). The fall does not affect the eternal house of David. Every generation has a king from the House of David, but he is a concealed king. As sure as the moon always receives sunlight, the eternal status always characterizes the House of David. Only, it needs to again start shining - so WE can see it again! This illumination began its incremental emergence (= "rising"), starting with the Ba'al Shem Tov.

This is the meaning of Psalms (89:37-38): "His seed will endure forever; His throne like the sun before Me." God testifies that above, in heaven, David's throne is always complete. And if you'll ask, but below, on earth, this kingdom is not revealed, the next verse explains: "Like the moon it is ready in concealment;" Although the kingdom of David is not revealed yet below, it remains alive and existent in concealed state (בהעלם). When the moon is concealed below, it does not mean it lost any of its essence. And who testifies this is the truth? Eternal God! "And the Witness in heaven is forever faithful."

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