Monday, July 14, 2008

David Melech Yisrael Chai Vekayam

Divrei Chaim mentions the difference between Yaakov Avinu lo meis on the one hand, and david melech yisrael chai vekayam on the other, though does not elaborate on the exact distinction between the two Rav Kook makes.

David Melech Yisrael Chai veKayam occurs specifically on Rosh haShana 25a:

א"ל רבי לר' חייא זיל לעין טב וקדשיה לירחא ושלח לי סימנא דוד מלך ישראל חי וקים

To use the point by point summary here:
(b) R. Chiya saw the old moon on the morning of the 29th of Elul;
1. He threw a clod of earth at it, as he wanted it to be invisible now so that the new one could appear at night (and the month could be abridged, thereby separating Yom Kipur from Shabbos).
2. Rebbi told him to go to Ein Tav and sanctify Rosh Chodesh there, and to send the message "David Melech Yisrael..."
See Insights to the Daf for elaboration, such as the following excerpt:
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rebbi told Rebbi Chiya that when he sanctifies the new month, he should send Rebbi a message saying, "David Melech Yisrael Chai v'Kayam." RASHI explains that the verse (Tehilim 89:37) compares the Davidic dynasty to the moon.

Why is Malchus Beis David compared to the moon?

(a) This analogy can be understood based on the words of the Midrash (Shemos Rabah 15; see also RABEINU BACHYE to Bereishis 38:30, cited by SHULCHAN ARUCH OC 426:2). The Midrash teaches that just as the moon waxes and wanes over a thirty-day period, so, too, the power of the kingdom of Yisrael "waxed and waned" over a period of thirty generations. For fifteen generations it grew until it was full -- from Avraham Avinu until Shlomo ha'Melech, and for the next fifteen generations it waned, coming to its end at the reign of Tzidkiyahu ha'Melech whose eyes were blinded by the enemy at the time of the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash (Yirmeyahu 52:11). The blinding of Tzidkiyahu, like the complete loss of the light of the moon, was a sign that the Davidic dynasty had ended. The return of the moon's light after the Molad is a sign that the dynasty of David ha'Melech will return to its former glory.

For this reason Rebbi established that Malchus Beis David be mentioned as a sign that the new month was declared. The MAHARATZ CHAYOS adds, based on the Yerushalmi in Sanhedrin, that it indeed was the common practice to announce the new month with the phrase "David Melech Yisrael..." The Chachamim viewed the new moon as a sign of hope and anticipation for the restoration of the autonomy of the Jewish people and the Davidic dynasty. This is also the source for the present-day custom to mention this phrase during Birkas ha'Levanah.

As such, it does not seem that the one intended as Chai veKayam is David haMelech in any literal sense. Rather, it is to the Davidic dynasty. If this is indeed so, it should not be mustered as any sort of proof such as, e.g., that a religiously can physically die yet be "alive" and so be mashiach. Of course, any one can reinterpret this and claim that it actually refers to David. But there is no need to do so, and we see how it is may be understood by one such as Rashi on a peshat level.

I further heard in shiur the idea that the authorities (Romans) were supressing this declaration of the new moon, such that all this had to be in secret code, and this was what "David melech yisrael" was. I would add that if this was indeed a code, and Rebbi, who was Rabbi Yehuda haNasi, descended from David, was circumventing this ban and exercising this power to declare the new month, then this type of message would be quite appropriate.

This is the actual Rashi as well as Rabbenu Chanenel, pictured to the right.

Thus, Rashi cites a pasuk in Tehillim to show that he (or his dynasty -- it does not really matter) is compared to the moon. Thus, in effect, this statement is code, where what is really being spoken of is the moon, not David. This does not in any way necessitate a belief that King David did not die, against what it says in Melachim Aleph, perek 2:

י וַיִּשְׁכַּב דָּוִד, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו; וַיִּקָּבֵר, בְּעִיר דָּוִד. {פ} 10 And David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. {P}
Burial would be quite unconfortable for a living person.

The pasuk Rashi cites is from Tehillim 98:

לו אַחַת, נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי בְקָדְשִׁי: אִם-לְדָוִד אֲכַזֵּב.
לז זַרְעוֹ, לְעוֹלָם יִהְיֶה; וְכִסְאוֹ כַשֶּׁמֶשׁ נֶגְדִּי.
לח כְּיָרֵחַ, יִכּוֹן עוֹלָם; וְעֵד בַּשַּׁחַק, נֶאֱמָן סֶלָה.

Where we should note how pasuk 37 talks about zar'o, such that it refers to the dynasty rather than the man.

Rabbenu Chananel also says that the malchut of bet david is established forever, citing the same pasuk. And he explains that it is a siman, that the sighting of the lavana is still extant in the world.

We see this as well when the Rema discusses it in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, siman 426, seif 2, mentioned above in the summary:

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן תכו
סעיף ב
ונוהגין לומר: דוד מלך ישראל חי וקיים, שמלכותו נמשל ללבנה ועתיד להתחדש כמותה וכנסת ישראל תחזור להתדבק בבעלה שהוא הקב"ה, דוגמת הלבנה המתחדשת עם החמה שנאמר: שמש ומגן ה' (תהילים פד, יב) ולכך עושין שמחות ורקודין בקידוש החדש דוגמת שמחת נשואין. (בחיי פרשת וישב וד"ע
A different base pasuk is cited, but the idea is the same, about malchut bet David, rather than David himself. My guess is that rather than any deep meaning involved in this, it is rather a statement drawn initially from the siman given in the gemara and possibly later invested with other meaning.

I also wonder if we might compare "David Melech Yisrael Chai veKayam" with the statements directed first towards Nevuchadnezzar and then towards Belshazzar, in sefer Daniel:

Daniel 3:9
ט עֲנוֹ, וְאָמְרִין, לִנְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר, מַלְכָּא: מַלְכָּא, לְעָלְמִין חֱיִי 9 They spoke and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: 'O king, live for ever!
Daniel 5:10
י מַלְכְּתָא--לָקֳבֵל מִלֵּי מַלְכָּא וְרַבְרְבָנוֹהִי, לְבֵית מִשְׁתְּיָא עללת (עַלַּת); עֲנָת מַלְכְּתָא וַאֲמֶרֶת, מַלְכָּא לְעָלְמִין חֱיִי--אַל-יְבַהֲלוּךְ רַעְיוֹנָךְ, וזיויך (וְזִיוָךְ) אַל-יִשְׁתַּנּוֹ. 10 Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house; the queen spoke and said: 'O king, live for ever! let not thy thoughts affright thee, nor let thy countenance be changed;
This "live forever" is not meant literally but rather as a sort of "long live the king."


shlomo said...

וַיִּשְׁכַּב דָּוִד, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו
is noteworthy for not actually using the word "vayamot". I believe Rashi at the end of sefer breishit uses the same lack of "vayamot" to show that Yaakov didn't die. So from a midrashic perspective, this would be a proof that David himself IS alive.

joshwaxman said...

though there in Bereishit the words used were וַיִּגְוַע, וַיֵּאָסֶף אֶל-עַמָּיו, not vayishkav, which is a slightly different construction.

and to my knowledge, there is no midrash which makes this claim. what that midrash about Yaakov means is another story. (e.g. as some commentators on Bereishit Rabbati discuss, IIRC, that there are different leshonos describing death, and each refers to a different level of honor in it; or on the gemara, that his children continue on his role.)

in terms of this particular construction, earlier in the perek we have וַיִּקְרְבוּ יְמֵי-דָוִד, לָמוּת which implies that he would die (though the same is said for Yaakov). But compare:
I Kings 11:43:
וַיִּשְׁכַּב שְׁלֹמֹה, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר, בְּעִיר דָּוִד אָבִיו; וַיִּמְלֹךְ רְחַבְעָם בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.
(though a few psukim earlier says "ad mos shelomo")

and in I Kings 14 about Yeravam ben Navat:
וְהַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר מָלַךְ יָרָבְעָם, עֶשְׂרִים וּשְׁתַּיִם שָׁנָה; וַיִּשְׁכַּב, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּמְלֹךְ נָדָב בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.
with no mention of mavet.

and then:
וַיִּשְׁכַּב רְחַבְעָם עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר עִם-אֲבֹתָיו בְּעִיר דָּוִד, וְשֵׁם אִמּוֹ, נַעֲמָה הָעַמֹּנִית; וַיִּמְלֹךְ אֲבִיָּם בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then (perek 15):
וַיִּשְׁכַּב אֲבִיָּם עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקְבְּרוּ אֹתוֹ בְּעִיר דָּוִד; וַיִּמְלֹךְ אָסָא בְנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then:
וַיִּשְׁכַּב אָסָא, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, בְּעִיר דָּוִד אָבִיו; וַיִּמְלֹךְ יְהוֹשָׁפָט בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו

and then (in perek 16):
וַיִּשְׁכַּב בַּעְשָׁא עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר בְּתִרְצָה; וַיִּמְלֹךְ אֵלָה בְנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then:
וַיִּשְׁכַּב עָמְרִי עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר בְּשֹׁמְרוֹן; וַיִּמְלֹךְ אַחְאָב בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then (in perek 22)
וַיִּשְׁכַּב אַחְאָב, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו; וַיִּמְלֹךְ אֲחַזְיָהוּ בְנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.
and then
וַיִּשְׁכַּב יְהוֹשָׁפָט, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, בְּעִיר דָּוִד אָבִיו; וַיִּמְלֹךְ יְהוֹרָם בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then (in II Kings 8):
וַיִּשְׁכַּב יוֹרָם עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר עִם-אֲבֹתָיו בְּעִיר דָּוִד; וַיִּמְלֹךְ אֲחַזְיָהוּ בְנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then
וַיִּשְׁכַּב יֵהוּא עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקְבְּרוּ אֹתוֹ בְּשֹׁמְרוֹן; וַיִּמְלֹךְ יְהוֹאָחָז בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then (perek 13):
וַיִּשְׁכַּב יְהוֹאָחָז עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקְבְּרֻהוּ בְּשֹׁמְרוֹן; וַיִּמְלֹךְ יוֹאָשׁ בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then
וַיִּשְׁכַּב יוֹאָשׁ עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וְיָרָבְעָם יָשַׁב עַל-כִּסְאוֹ; וַיִּקָּבֵר יוֹאָשׁ בְּשֹׁמְרוֹן, עִם מַלְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

and then (perek 14)
וַיִּשְׁכַּב יְהוֹאָשׁ, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר בְּשֹׁמְרוֹן, עִם מַלְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיִּמְלֹךְ יָרָבְעָם בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו

and then
וַיִּשְׁכַּב יָרָבְעָם עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, עִם מַלְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיִּמְלֹךְ זְכַרְיָה בְנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then (perek 15)
וַיִּשְׁכַּב עֲזַרְיָה עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקְבְּרוּ אֹתוֹ עִם-אֲבֹתָיו בְּעִיר דָּוִד; וַיִּמְלֹךְ יוֹתָם בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then
וַיִּשְׁכַּב מְנַחֵם, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו; וַיִּמְלֹךְ פְּקַחְיָה בְנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then

וַיִּשְׁכַּב יוֹתָם, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, בְּעִיר דָּוִד אָבִיו; וַיִּמְלֹךְ אָחָז בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then (perek 16)
וַיִּשְׁכַּב אָחָז עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר עִם-אֲבֹתָיו בְּעִיר דָּוִד; וַיִּמְלֹךְ חִזְקִיָּהוּ בְנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then (perek 20)
וַיִּשְׁכַּב חִזְקִיָּהוּ, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו; וַיִּמְלֹךְ מְנַשֶּׁה בְנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו

and then (perek 21)
וַיִּשְׁכַּב מְנַשֶּׁה עִם-אֲבֹתָיו, וַיִּקָּבֵר בְּגַן-בֵּיתוֹ בְּגַן-עֻזָּא; וַיִּמְלֹךְ אָמוֹן בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and then (perek 24)
וַיִּשְׁכַּב יְהוֹיָקִים, עִם-אֲבֹתָיו; וַיִּמְלֹךְ יְהוֹיָכִין בְּנוֹ, תַּחְתָּיו.

and so on and so forth in Divrei haYamim.

Thus, there is no midrash I no of that makes this extension to David, and if one attempts to make this claim on the level of midrash based on this construction for David, one would have to make it as well for *every single* king of both Yehuda and Yisrael. And this includes kings like Achav and Yeravam ben Navat, who were extremely wicked. I think you would agree at this point that this attempted midrashic approach is a dead end.

Kol Tuv,


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