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Rabbi's Blog: Comment on the Queen

09/09/2022 01:14:03 PM



Dear OZ family,


A glance at the beginning of some of the books of Tanach, reveals that our prophets traversed the reigning tenure of three, four, or even five kings. Our sages attributed that to the tensions and life-shortening job descriptions of Biblical kings. 11 (including Gedalia) were assassinated, and most were awful disappointments. The kingdom of Yehudah was once ruled by a queen, and she almost succeeded in wiping out the entire line of King David. The Northern kingdom of the ten tribes, was at that time, veritably ruled by Queen Jezebel, as her husband, Achav, sheepishly went along with her turning Israel into a polytheistic state.


Abravanel opens his commentary to Sefer Shmuel by citing a Midrash that lists all the troubles caused by various Israelite monarchs. The previous book, Sefer Shofetim concludes with several outrageous stories that came about because “In those days, there was no king in Israel, everyone did as they pleased” (a paraphrase of the last verse in Sefer Shofetim.) Abravanel, who served monarchs in Portugal and Spain, felt the painful sting of authoritarian treachery. He refused the offer of Ferdinand and Isabella to remain in Spain and went into exile with his people in 1492.    


Abravanel understood the Torah’s command to appoint a king in last week’s Parsha, to begrudgingly allow the institution of monarchy if we feel the need for it. This would explain the anger of Shmuel Hanavi at the insistence of his people in appointing a king. The disappointment in the first king, Shaul, is a reminder that we usually get the leader we deserve. If that is indeed the case, then England reaped the benefit of two generations of a wonderful harvest, as a result of the dignified, regal presence of perhaps the longest ruling monarch of all time. (She ruled over 70 years, and no king of Israel even lived more than 70 years!) The Wall Street Journal today, called her the most famous person who ever lived, in terms of recognition by the entire world.


Her quiet dignity through tumultuous times, her spanning many British Prime Ministers, US presidents, and world leaders is a testament to her consistency and staying power. She worked to the very end of her long and blessed life, and just 2 days ago, appointed the new British Prime Minister to her post. She was a dear friend to the Jewish Community, and her steady, and constant presence will be sorely missed in a world that is significantly, and breathlessly changing in a matter of no time. As we bless the leaders of our land, inspired by the prophecy of Yirmiyahu to pray for the success and peace of Bavel while they lived there (Chapter 29), we pray for the smooth succession of Queen Elizabeth II’s son, to take up the difficult task of carrying on his mother’s noble grace and dignity.   


Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Allen Schwartz


Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635



Sat, April 13 2024 5 Nisan 5784