06 Jun Midot Hayom 5770 Day 49: Malchut in Malchut
David would take a harp a lyre and play them [when he first rose at midnight] so that Torah scholars would hear and say, “If David, King of Israel, is [waking up and] studying Torah, how much more so must we!” (Berachot Yerushalmi 1.1)
King David would position his musical instruments so that they would play at midnight and wake him. He played music to praise God. He played music as part of his preparation for Divine Inspiration. The Yerushalmi above offers an additional reason: King David played music so that others would hear and be moved to wake up and study Torah.
While living in an apartment in New York City, I would often hear the woman who lived in the floor above play her violin at all hours of the night. Her music became part of my nighttime music just like the sound of the subway trains rolling through the city. It didn’t wake me up, in fact, I soon began to need it to sleep. I wonder whether David’s music would inspire me to wake up, or if it, too, would have been a lullaby.
The Yerushalmi chose its words carefully: “So that Torah scholars would hear and say.” King David’s music was a message to Torah scholars. Others would hear and sleep better, touched by, and secure in, the fact that their king would wake at midnight to study Torah.
King David’s music was simultaneously an alarm clock, a symphony of praise, a meditation device, and a rebuke. The same music would speak to different people, to each in a manner appropriate for him. The man of Malchut, who incorporated and shared all the hearts of his subjects, played his music with that sense of Malchut, so that it would speak to every heart the king incorporated. He expressed his Malchut, through Malchut.
We have numerous opportunities to express Malchut. Chassidic Jews would dress as aristocrats to send a message that although the world treated them as less than human, Shabbat restored their sense of royalty. Shabbat is just one of our opportunities to live as kings. We received the Torah to become a, “Kingdom of Cohanim.” We can study Torah as royalty. We can read each word as a Royal Proclamation. We can pray with an appreciation of having access to the King, whether as high officials or as one of the King’s servants with constant access. We can observe the King’s Mitzvot as royal functionaries, acting on His behalf for all of creation.
When we act as kings, we will find that our actions will reflect God’s reign, and will speak in different ways, all magnificent, to each creation. This is our music. This is the opportunity of Shavuot.