Adjusting Our Lenses for Rosh HaShana

September 2nd, 2011 by ian

“When you come to the land that Hashem your G-d is

giving to you … you must place a king upon yourselves …”

(Deut. 17:14)

Good malchut has been robbed from us. By good malchut I mean the appreciation that having an upright king, living in his kingdom, and his having exclusive kingship and authority over people and our lives is the best thing for us. We don’t have such a conception, and automatically lack a certain capacity to conceive of crowning a king on the upcoming day of Rosh HaShana; it has been subtly taken away from us.

Because we hear so much about malchut from the media and mythical stories, we must realize that its depiction is altered via the medium by which it is presented to us. The media and human-penned tales of malchut are filtered through the lens of tiferet, either by people who have the middah/personality of tiferet or one of the other personalities who is using tiferet to portray the malchut.

These media are using the medium of tiferet by depicting malchut in articles and movies and the like in a way that is virtually always in a negative light. Also, the medium of tiferet portrays by taking one cross-section of a society and extrapolating it or elevating one person as symbolic of an entire group of people. It is one big stereotype. Kings and kingliness have been portrayed as tyrannically despotic, corrupt and greedy (or gluttonous) or benevolent and caring – but usually afraid to act in this last depiction.

Creative types do this naturally – albeit on a lower level of consciousness – due to the fact that they naturally feel uncomfortable with absolute authority and abhor being told what to do. Their stories contain narratives wherein all protagonists resolve their conflict and live in blissful harmony, usually disregarding some set of rules or abandoning some tradition in order to achieve “happiness”(1)

Also, a good, healthy king would basically run a “boring”, systematic empire that lacks colorful character and interesting, newsworthy events, and the underlying necessity in news fodder and storylines is conflict-resolution (or today conflict-resolution-making fun of people (in official legalese: “dissing”)).

Conflict is what makes people want to watch TV and movies. It’s for this reason that these media show married couples arguing and bickering. A happy marriage would be too boring! (-for the onlooker; for the people involved, quite the opposite!(2)). In reality, entertainment such as this is in our lives to escape into a zone of enjoyment and, also, exists as a medium give over general messages to the onlooker (e.g. an ad for a political candidate or don’t judge a book by its cover); they are not full explanations of reality, they’re depictions – don’t confuse the map for the territory (that this is a good candidate for ABC but not XYZ or when should you judge someone).

I have great respect for people with the middah of tiferet and explain in The Seven Ways how their gifts contribute immensely to the world. My goal here is not to disparage the middah of tiferet; my goal is to encourage us to stretch our thinking to appreciate forgotten ideas – especially ones that are coterminous with commandments in the Torah.

With Rosh HaShana approaching, it is important to hone our conception of malchut. Even as I described the systematic, industrious kingship of malchut above, it may seem unsavory to us! If we had a true king, though, we would be able to do G-d’s will, have a viable, prosperous economy, and be able to study Torah properly.

It has been said that, due to the fact that we live in a democratic society, we lack a proper understanding of what a Melech (king) is. As such we must review what kingship is to be able to crown G-d king on Rosh HaShana. Some may have heard this idea multiple times before and perhaps find it cliché. However, with the new angle that I described above, I think we can appreciate how specific lenses have been dropped over our eyes and that we must remove the improper shading. The, and only then, will we see the real truth and find H’s malchut most appropriate.



(1)             So many stories develop like this because the authors themselves, tiferet-types, get disenchanted with rules of organized religion! No matter what your faith is or if you simply have a unique culture or law system, it’s important to note that the stories promote disregarding of traditions that are likely to be beneficial, depict holders of the tradition and wise men as cranky geezers (a la Happy Feet), and the promotion of intermarriage and easy abandoning of set rules (gevurah) in favor of what they portray as real happiness or “love”).

(2)            See Gottman, J., Nan, S. (1999) The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York: Crown. It’s pretty much the little things like small verbal exchanges, physical cues, and schmoozing about one’s day that make love and romance – sorry Hollywood!





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