The Teacher and the King
[Excerpt from Sefer HaMa'amarim Melukat
II pp 45-46 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
as translated by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger
in "Anticipating the Redemption" Vol. II (S.I.E. 1997), pp 33-36]
"And the spirit
of G-d shall rest upon him
And he will be permeated with the spirit of the
fear of G-d
The wolf will dwell with the lamb." (Isaiah 11:2)
this passage from the Haftorah for the Eighth Day of Passover outside of Israel,
the prophet describes the coming of Mashiach who will arrive and redeem us speedily
in our days, highlighting several aspects of the King Mashiach's qualities and
At the outset, it describes the spiritual level of Mashiach
himself: "And the spirit of G-d shall rest upon him
" And then
it continues to describe his conduct: "And he will be permeated with the
spirit of the fear of G-d
" Our Sages interpret (Sanhedrin 93b) this
phrase to mean that he will judge the righteous through his sense of smell.
the verse continues: "And a wolf shall dwell with a lamb
that Mashiach's conduct will bring about (1) the revelation of G-dliness throughout
the world, not only among humans, but also among animals (2) and within the sphere
of inanimate objects, (3) as the passage continues, "and the earth will be
filled with the knowledge of G-d" (Isaiah 11:9). Even the physical earth
will be "filled with the knowledge of G-d."
But seeing that "the
earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d," why will it be necessary
to have a king in that age? [Seemingly, the purpose of a king is to enforce law
and order; since all existence will be permeated with the knowledge of G-d, it
would appear that such enforcement will not be necessary.]
In short, the
explanation of the concept is that kingship is identified with the quality of
exaltedness, the concept that a king is separate and uplifted above his people.
Even the commands given by a king reflect closeness; the king draws closer to
his people by leading them according to his desires.
His subjects' obedience
to the king's commands does not come because they know and appreciate the reason
for the commands, but rather out of fear and dread for the king, as our Sages
say, (Sanhedrin 22a) "His dread must be upon you." Thus even the goodness
the king gives to his people reflects that he is exalted and separate.
reflects the difference between the influence given by a teacher and that given
by a king. When a teacher influences a student, he draws closer to him, for he
restricts his own understanding to a level appropriate for the student so that
the student will grasp the idea. The influence of a king, by contrast, remains
separate from the people, above their intellectual comprehension; this is because
a king communicates his wishes as decrees, to be accepted out of awe of him -
and not because the people understand.)
The source for these two types of
influence which Mashiach will provide, that of a king and that of a teacher, is
in the Torah (4), for the Torah contains parallels to both of these influences.
There are certain Torah concepts that have been enclothed in an intellectual form,
paralleling the influence of a teacher. The essence of the Torah, however, remains
above intellect, paralleling the influence of a king.
In the Era of the
Redemption, both of these dimensions will become manifest, and thus Mashiach will
be called both a teacher and a king.
Mashiach will teach the Torah to the
entire Jewish people and convey a fine discerning and knowledgeable appreciation
of the Torah's mystic secrets. Because of this influence, Mashiach will be considered
as a teacher.
And yet, Mashiach himself will comprehend infinitely more
than he will communicate through intellect. This dimension of his being he will
also convey to the people, but he will do so in an encompassing manner, as a king
[The word "encompassing", makif in Hebrew, refers
to a light or form of influence that is too powerful to be grasped and internalized
and therefore is described as "encompassing." The point is, however,
that this encompassing influence is not entirely transcendent. Instead, although
it is too powerful to be internalized, it does influence the person.]
as is well known, Mashiach will teach people the Torah using the medium of sight,
a manner of instruction that transcends ordinary comprehension. Nevertheless,
the influence which he will convey as a king is so lofty that it cannot even be
revealed through the transcendent influence of sight. And yet, because Mashiach
will also serve as a king, he will reveal even these matters to the Jewish people.
Their revelation, however, will be in an encompassing matter.
Note also that the Rambam (Mishna Torah, Hilchot Melachim 11:4) when speaking
of Mashiach "perfect(ing) the world" refers to mankind [as indicated
by the proof text he chooses: "I will transform the nations
The Rambam also interprets [ibid. 12:1]: "And a wolf will dwell with a lamb,"
as an allegory referring to mankind.
(2) Although the Rambam maintains that
this verse should be interpreted as an allegory, the sages of Kabbala and Chasidut
rule that the verses should be interpreted according to their simple meaning.
Note the verse "A stone from the wall will call out" (Habakkuk 2:11).
Midrash Tehillim (ch. 73) states that in the Era of the Redemption even inanimate
objects will be permeated by G-dly energy.
(4) The same is true with regard
to all entities that exist, for they are all a reflection - after numerous intermediate
levels - from concepts that exist in the Torah, as implied by the statement "(G-d)
looked in the Torah and created the world. (Zohar, Vol. II, p. 161a, b)