“He became King over Yeshurun when the
numbers of the nation gathered, the tribes of Israel in unity.”
— Devarim 33:5
In his final address to the Jewish people,
Moshe Rabbeinu gives each shevet a bracha and
charges them with their national responsibilities. Immediately
prior, he spoke to the entire people saying, “When the Jews are
gathered in unity, then HASHEM is their King.” The Daas
Zakainim explains this means that: “When the Jews are joined
together in friendship and brotherhood only then is HASHEM our
king; however, when there is fighting amongst us, we are acting
as if HASHEM doesn’t rule over us — He isn’t our King.”
This statement of the Daas Zakainim is
difficult to understand. If he were telling us that HASHEM loves
peace and that when we are in a state of disagreement, He
doesn’t want to be our king, it would make sense. But that is
not what he is saying. He says that, “When we are in a state of
conflict it is as if we are rejecting HASHEM as our king.” Why
is this so? Perhaps I accept that HASHEM is my king — but I hate
you. HASHEM I love; you I have a problem with.
The answer to this can best be understood
with a moshol:
What good is a
decree of life, back on Rosh Hashanah?
Imagine it is a cold February night. You are
walking down a dark street in a part of town that you don’t
normally frequent. As you tighten your coat against the wind,
you notice how quiet it is — not a soul to be seen or heard.
Suddenly, there’s a screech, a car stops, and out jump three
tough looking thugs who surround you. One of them reaches into
his coat pocket, pulls out a gun, and points it at your head.
You’ve never stared down the barrel of a gun
before — at least not a real one — and not in real life.
Suddenly, you realize that your very life is in the hands of
this punk. And in that that life-and-death moment, you are
struck by a major philosophical problem: what good is HASHEM’s
decree on the previous Rosh Hashanah when your life is in the
hands of this drug-crazed kid? In fact, what good is any decree
when so much is in man’s power to control?
You can help me;
you can’t harm me
Then answer to this dilemma, and one of the
bedrock basics of our entire emunah system, is that since
HASHEM decrees “who will live and who will die,” then perforce
HASHEM is on the scene 24/7, 365 to carry out those decrees. If
I accept that HASHEM decides the fate of mankind, then I also
accept the fact that HASHEM is around throughout man’s existence
to carry out those decrees – otherwise, the entire system is
The power given to
The Chovos Ha’Levovos (Sha’ar
Ha’Bitachon) explains that one of the principles of
emunah is that you can’t harm me and you
can’t help me. The amount of money I make, my health and
well-being, which woman I am to marry, which home I am to own,
has been predetermined by HASHEM — and HASHEM carries out each
of those decisions. You have no control over my destiny.
You could hate me. You could lay elaborate
and detailed schemes to kill me. But if it isn’t in the will of
HASHEM for me to die, there is nothing that you can do to me.
You can scheme and you can dream, but every effort will be met
with failure — because HASHEM is there protecting me. I walk
around protected. It is as if I walk the streets surrounded by a
Lucite bubble, shielding me from all harm—HASHEM is right there.
So too the opposite. If you were the most
generous, loving person in the world, and you were completely
devoted to help me, if my time on this planet is up, there is
nothing that you can do to change that—any human is powerless to
change my destiny.
But this concept isn’t limited to areas of
life and death. Across the full spectrum of the human
experience, HASHEM is directly and intimately involved in the
running of our lives.
How to take an
This seems to be the answer to the question
on the Daas Zakainim. Any infighting in the Klal
Yisroel indicates one point: we don’t really understand who
runs the world. Why am I angry with you? Because you hurt
me, you wronged me, you took something from me. If
I truly understood that HASHEM alone determines every outcome,
all anger would disappear. I might feel disappointment that you
have chosen poorly, but anger only comes from the sense that
you have harmed me.
If the Jewish people are fighting, then by
definition it means that HASHEM isn’t our King. Fighting is an
act of insubordination because it means that we deny HASHEM’s
control, and so it is an act of rejecting HASHEM’s sovereignty.
We only proclaim HASHEM as our king when we truly understand
that it is He alone who controls every action that befalls us,
and so he is only our King when we live in peace and harmony
with each other.