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Seven Levels of Teshuva David Part Two

King David, Malchut, and Atonement for all of Creation
The king represents the entire nation. His heart is the heart of all the people. Malchut means to encompass everything.


It takes the attribute of Malchut to impact all of creation.

David was Israel’s shepherd, as it is written, “You shall shepherd My people Israel.”1 It is David who must care and nurture the entire people.2

How did he accomplish this? The Zohar says3 that “The Holy One, Blessed is He, showed Adam all future generations. When Adam saw that David was given no years to live, he was moved to give him seventy years of his own life.” David was an extension of Adam, the first and Primal human being. David represented all of humanity just as did Adam.

David did not only see himself. He saw all of creation: “While David was tending the sheep in the desert, he would gaze upon the desert, serve God, and sing praises, ‘When I behold Your heaven, the work of Your fingers…’4At night, when all were asleep in their beds, he would sit in the desert and gaze at the heavens, at the moon, stars, and constellations, the host of the heavens, and he would praise and extol the Holy One, Blessed is He.”5

David too became one with God. The Midrash says6, “While David was watching sheep, he found a R’em asleep in the desert. Thinking it was a mountain; he ascended it and tended his sheep. The R’em awoke and rose, carrying David on its horns so that he reached the heavens. At that time David said, ‘Master of the Universe, if you bring me down this mountain, I will build You a Temple 100 cubits high like the horns of the R’em.’” This Midrash is teaching us that David experienced the view of God from the heavens. He became one with God as we do on Yom Kippur. He committed himself to building a Temple where atonement could be brought for all of creation.

The Radak7 asks why in the Book of Samuel it says that King David went with his men to capture Metzudat Tziyon, and in Divrei Hayamim it says that he went with all Israel, not just his men? The Radak answers that all Israel had become David’s men. He ruled over all of Israel. Once he ruled over all of Israel he went to Jerusalem to capture Metzudat Tziyon. The Jews had a tradition that Tziyon was the seat of the king of all of Israel and the only one who could capture it had to be accepted as king by all Jews. We see that in order for Tziyon, or the place of the Temple, (Tziyon refers to the place of the Beit Hamikdash, to all of Jerusalem and to the Jewish People), to be built, all of Israel had to be united. Once we were no longer united, but filled with gratuitous hatred, Tziyon had to fall. It is the king who unites us. It is in his power as the One Who Unites us that he can bring forgiveness to the entire nation.

The Maharal says8: “The Beis Hamikdash unified all Israel as one person. There was one altar, and they were no longer allowed to build Bamot, private altars on their properties. When they began to fight with one another, and were no longer unified, their place of unification was destroyed.”
There is an opinion9 that Yerushalayim was not given as a portion in Israel to anyone of the Tribes of Israel. There is another opinion in the Sifre, Rieih that the place of the Beis Hamikdash was not given as a portion to any tribe. The Place of unification must belong to all Israel. (See Chidushei HaRiz, Rambam Hilchos Beis Habechira: Even according to the opinion that Yerushalayim and the Temple Mount were given as a portion to one tribe they are both a place of unity. They were given as a portion to one tribe so that the other tribes would come and acquire their part of those places for themselves.)

The Talmud10 says that King David and the prophet Samuel divided the Kohanim into 24 families that would alternate service in the Beis Hamikdash. The Leviim were also divided so that they could alternate turns in Jerusalem. The law demands that a “zar” someone who is not a Kohen or Levi be present at each communal sacrifice. The entire nation was therefore also divided into shifts and each shift would send representatives to Jerusalem twice a year to be present at the daily sacrifice. The Beis Hamikdash was for all Jews to be active participants. The Cohanim and Leviim were not supposed to be distant from the people, representing them without the participation of everyone. All Jews were “present” and played a role. The Beis Hamikdash was not an abstract place where “holy” people served God. It was literally the home for all the people. They all functioned there as active participants. It was clear to everyone that the Kohanim and Leviim functioned for them. When the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed we lost this sense of all being equally involved.

Yom Kippur Service:

This is exactly the role of the Cohen Gadol on Yom Kippur. In the song that describes the face of the Cohen Gadol when he finishes the service we say that he “Wears the crown of the king.”11 He too, on this day, represents the entire nation. It is he who recites the confession for the entire nation12. The Talmud even compares his confession to that of David13. It is he who brings atonement to everybody. When he stands in the Holy of Holies he becomes one with God. He uses that connection to bring atonement to all of Israel.

The description of the Yom Kippur service in the Machzor14 begins with the story of creation, Adam and his sin.  The Yom Kippur service is intended to bring atonement to all creation all the way back to Adam.

The Cohen Gadol spends the day before Yom Kippur meeting all the animals that will be brought as sacrifices on the morrow. This is to facilitate the service so that he recognizes which animal is to be brought as each sacrifice.15 It also serves the purpose of clarifying for the Cohen Gadol that he must bring atonement for all of creation. This is the level of Teshuva that brings atonement for all of creation.

All the levels build on each other. This level of Teshuva is only possible if all the others are developed.

1 Samuel 2 5:2

2 Bereishit Rabbah 59:5

3 Volume 1:91b

4 Psalms 8:4

5 Zohar Chadash, Shir Hashirim 67b

6 Shocher Tov 22:28

7 Shmuel 2:5

8 Chapter 5 of Netzach Yisrael

9 TB Bava Kama 81b

10 Taanis 26a-27a

11 כְּזֵר הַנָּתוּן עַל מֵצַח מֶלֶךְ. מַרְאֵה כֹהֵן:12 Yoma 66a

13 Ibid. 36b

14 Nusach S’fard

15 Mishna Yoma 1:3

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