Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Does everyone really want Moshiach?

This is the week we mourn the destruction of the Temple, the week when we tell ourselves how much better things will be once the Davidic kingship is restored. Unfortunately the track record of the Davidic sovereigns, as recorded in Kings, Books I and II, doesn't inspire much faith in their leadership ability. With few exceptions, the kings of Judah were corrupt, evil, abusive men, who exercised absolute control over their impoverished subjects, compelling them to pay high taxes and fight unreasonable wars. Also - and this is something we often forget - many of the kings of Judah were idol worshipers who were unfaithful to God, and led the people away from Him. In fact, according to Jeremiah (who is believed to have authored the end of Kings II) aside from Josiah there was never a king like David "who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses."

And yet, in our daily prayers, we ask for God to restore this line of under-achiever and appoint David's rightful successor. How can this explained? Didn't Einstein say that an insane person does the same thing over and over again expecting different results? So given our previous experiences with Davidic kings (not to mention the rest of the world's experience with non-Davidic kings) wouldn't it be insane for us to expect a Jewish king to be anything but a corrupt, murderous, tax-crazed idol worshiper?

Deep down inside, I think the average Jew understands this. Sure, we pay lip service to the idea that we desire a king, but with the exception of a few people, who for the most part are dismissed as whackjobs, what have we done to make it happen? Nothing.

And our actions, I think, speak louder than our words. We know that kings are bad news. We know that appointing a king means losing many of the comforts and freedoms we've come to enjoy. And we know that even if the first king is a tzadik, like David was, his children and grandchildren are likely to follow in the footsteps of David's own descendants and become corrupted by their wealth and power.* So we say the words, three times daily, professing to desire a king, yet do nothing in our daily actions to speed things along.

*Historical note: This is precisely what happened when the Hashmonaim took power. The first generation was God-fearing. The grandchildren has Greek names, and were the sworn enemies of the Sages.

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  • 4 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    Then again, you think most people actually
    (1) know this
    (2) think about this

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