The Yamim Noraim, or high holy days, are days of judgment and repentance. One of the primary themes of these days is to accept Hashem as our king. While the concept of kings is somewhat foreign to us these days, it is nonetheless incumbent on us to understand what the basis for kings is and what has happened to that institution.
Hashem set up this world with various concepts people can rely. One such concept is malchus, or kings. A king is a strange phenomenon. Why is it that one person should control millions of other people? Hashem arranged that people should accept to rely on a human king in order for us to understand in human terms what malchus is all about, and subsequently begin to appreciate His divine malchus.
One of the fundamental principles of malchus is to honor and fear the king. The bracha that we recite when we see a non-Jewish king is asher nasan m’kivodo l’basar v’dam – who gave from his honor to a mere flesh and blood. Upon seeing a king we acknowledge that the malchus of the even the non-Jewish kings comes from Hashem.
The Maharal (Chidusei Agados Baba Basra 15b) says that before Mashiach comes, Hashem will remove malchus and order from the world. This is so that we will realize that the power of malchus comes from Hashem. Hashem will do this so that we will understand and take to heart that He is the true king of the world and that He wants to reveal his malchus to the world now, so they can accept His kingship.
In the past ten years we have witnessed remarkable events removing many of the world’s leaders. Saddam Hussein was a powerful leader of Iraq for many years. He was eventually forced to live in a hole in the ground somewhere in hiding. Is that malchus? Eventually he was found and killed.
The president, vice president, and several other ministers of the Polish Government were killed in a plane crash. In a matter of minutes that entire government disappeared.
The prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, fell into a coma and remained in a vegetative state for years. This was after he brought devastation to Israel by giving away Gaza.
In recent years, under president Obama’s watch, we have witnessed the Arab Spring. This revolution has overthrown many of the world’s leaders in a matter of weeks. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, and others have seen powerful leaders removed from their positions.
Europe is under economic breakdown. Syria is in a civil war. Its leader is on the brink of being deposed.
A number of decades ago there were two superpowers in the world: America and Russia. In the 1980’s, Russia lost its status as a superpower. A superpower is malchus. When a superpower speaks, the entire world listens, and everyone has respect for them. A superpower can tell other countries what to do.
North Korea’s leader has recently died, and was replaced by his thirty-year-old son who has brazenly challenged America and the world with a nuclear war! The world was trembling, yet under our previous president, America did nothing about it! Iran, the world’s largest state supporter of terrorism is on a path to nuclear weapons. Everyone knows that this is a tremendous world threat, and they looked up to America to stop them. Yet, under the previous administration nothing was done. On the contrary, we paved the path for them in gold.
Obama was a rookie senator who had one year of experience in the federal Government before he ran for president. Obama believed that America should not tell any other country what to do. He was destroying the malchus of America.
And then a few days before Rosh Hashanah the world heard the new president of the United States speak in front on the UN. His bold speech restored the sense of superpower status the United States used to enjoy. We witnessed a bit of malchus once more, just before we were to accept the king of kings as our one true king. We saw a king respond to the threats of North Korea’s young leader and address the threat of Iran responsibly.
Another peculiar event that has covered the news recently is the players of the NFL who refuse to honor the flag and national anthem. This comes after monuments and statues of American icons have been the targets of many attacks, and many have called for their removal. All of these ridiculous actions complement the theme of removing malchus from the world.
The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos 3:2 says that Rabi Chanina, sigan ha’Kohanim, said that one should pray for the welfare of the malchus, for if people did not fear the malchus a person would swallow his fellow man alive. We see from the Mishnah that malchus keeps people from killing each other. In other words, malchus ensures that terrorism does not occur. When there is no malchus, we have terrorism.
We should all pray that the president has success in restoring law and order in this country. And we should use his demonstration of malchus to help us realize how to honor and fear the one true king, Hashem.