Midot Hayom 5770 Day 44: Gevurah in Malchut
David caused the Holy One, Blessed is He, to show rejoicing. Even when he was grieved, as soon as he stood before the Holy One, Blessed is He, he became cheerful again in order to make the King happy (Zohar 2:107a).
David longed and said, “O, that one would give me water to drink from the well of Beth-lehem!” (II Samuel 23:15). [After it was brought] he would drink not drink of it (ibid. v. 16). “Since a prohibition was involved [see various explanations in the Gemara],” he said, “it is not proper for me [to drink] (Bava Kamma 60b).
David said “as Hashem lives . . . Hashem [and not I] will smite [Saul]” (I Samuel 26:10). [David’s] evil inclination came and said to him, “Had you fallen into his hands, he would have killed you without mercy. According to the Torah, it is [therefore] permissible to kill him.” Thereupon [David] jumped and swore twice [that he would not kill Saul (Bamidbar Rabbah 15:16).
The Sages teach that the, “King below is a reflection of the King in Heaven.” King David approached everything from the perspective of the King above. He, as the king who was the reflection of the King in Heaven, did not focus on his own needs or emotions, but rather, on his commitment to “Make the King happy.” Even when David was sad, he stood before God happy, in order to make God happy. David used his sense of Malchut to assert himself over his evil inclination, Gevurah in Malchut.
When a Philistine garrison was camped out in Bethlehem, and David was exhausted and thirsty, he asserted his Malchut, his ability to serve as a reflection of the King in Heaven, to control his needs at every moment. The king was thirsty enough for three of his soldiers to risk their lives for him and break into the Philistine camp to draw water from the well of Bethlehem. David, would not drink, despite his desperate situation. He acted in Gevurah in Malchut.
And there’s more: David understood and appreciated what his soldiers so lovingly did for him. He could not drink, but he did not want their unbelievable efforts to feel wasted. He wanted to honor them. “He poured it (the water) out unto God.”
According to one Talmudic opinion, this event took place on Succot, the only time of the year when water libations are offered. David “poured it out unto God,” to publicly demonstrate that this water, by virtue of what his three beloved soldiers did for him, was as holy as water poured onto the Altar. David used his Malchut to focus on the three soldiers and to show them that the world that is unified in the King in Heaven, could transform their drinking water into a water libation. He used his Malchut to focus on the three. He used Gevurah in Malchut.
King David was constantly tested on his ability to act as king, not as an individual. His evil inclination argued from the perspective of an individual: “Saul would kill you, therefore you may kill him in self-defense.” But David understood that he as king could not respond as an individual, especially against another king. He used his awareness of Malchut to assert self control, or, Gevurah in Malchut.
Gevurah in Malchut demands that we use our awareness of Hashem Echad, The Unity of God, to control our needs, desires and emotions. It demands that even when depressed, when we stand before God, we do not focus on ourselves, but on the King, and pray with joy, just to give God joy! We cannot stand as an individual before God, but only as an essential part of, and responsible for our role, in His Kingdom.
Gevurah in Malchut demands that we use our awareness of God’s Unity, which is the fulfillment of “Kabbalat Ol Malchut Shamaim,” – The Acceptance of the Yoke of God as King,” – to treat and honor each individual as part of that Malchut.
Gevurah in Malchut expects us to examine our choices as part of God’s Kingdom, not on our needs as an individual. We practice this each time we pray the Amidah and address the needs of His entire kingdom, and we do not address our individual needs.
- Before taking the three steps forward at the beginning of the Amidah, reflect on approaching God in joy, with the intention of making Him happy with His creation.
- Practicing placing your emotions on the side before entering prayer, will train you to put your needs aside when confronted with a difficult challenge from the Evil Inclination.
- Make sure that you focus on all of Israel during your Amidah. Do not limit your prayers to yourself.
- Focus throughout the day on relating to others with the respect due to their being an essential part of God’s Kingdom.
- Pay extra attention to fulfilling the Mitzvah of Accepting the Yoke of Heaven before reciting the Shema.