The Cursed Kingdoms
The first verse in Parashat Re’eh contains seven words, which correspond to the seven emotive sefirot (from loving-kindness to kingdom). The seventh word is “curse” (קללה) and it corresponds to the seventh sefirah, the sefirah of kingdom. The reason why kingdom is liable to be cursed stems from the seven primordial kings of the World of Chaos who preceded the World of Rectification. Each king ruled momentarily but then died, to be followed by the next of the seven kings. Each primordial king represents a different political system that rises to power and then falls: socialism, communism, totalitarianism, democracy, etc. The final kingdom will be the rectified kingdom of Mashiach and the eternal kingdom of the Almighty, the King of all kings.
Since Adam’s sin, mortality, the fate of the primordial kings, has been the ultimate fate of every human being. King David, who should naturally have been a miscarriage, was the first to begin rectifying this fallen state through his humble acknowledgment of his own miraculous survival at every moment of his life.
The curse of death that resides in the sefirah of kingdom is transformed into blessing by the power of the abundance that is in the sefirah of foundation. This is alluded to in the phrase that begins the second verse of the parashah, “the blessing” (אֶת הַבְּרָכָה), which can be rendered, “you [kingdom] are a blessing” (אַתּ הַבְּרָכָה). In this way, the meaning of the word “curse” (קללה) transforms into “bright” (קלל) as in the phrase “shiny copper” (נחשת קלל) that Ezekiel and Daniel saw in their prophetic visions. The blessing of kingdom at this level is even greater than the original blessing conveyed by the sefirah of foundation.
The Kingdom of Joseph and the Kingdom of David
This phenomenon is alluded to in the final meeting between King Saul’s son, Jonathan, and David, in the words, “until David became great” (עַד דָּוִד הִגְדִּיל). The literal meaning of this is that David wept profusely, but in Chassidut it is explained that this alludes to the rectification of King David’s kingdom through Mashiach ben David, when his rule is complete and rises above Jonathan’s, who represents Mashiach ben Yosef.
In our previous article we referred to three aspects of charity in Parashat Re’eh that characterize the profuse blessing that the righteous individual draws down from above. Referring to the third aspect of charity, the mitzvah of endowing a Hebrew servant upon his release, Sefer Hachinuch teaches that this mitzvah applies in any work situation. When an employee is dismissed, his employer should endow him with a significant reward for his work, beyond his regular salary. Nowadays, this has become the norm in any civilized society, with pension plans and national insurance schemes that actually remove most of the responsibility from the employer to the state. Although this indicates a certain elevation towards rectifying the sefirah of kingdom in general, the Torah expects each employer to take personal responsibility for each of his employees, like a king who is responsible for each of his subjects.
The numerical value of “a Hebrew servant” (עבד עברי) is equal to the numerical value of Mashiach (משיח), and although as an employee, the servant represents Joseph, the first Hebrew servant, when he leaves his employer for personal freedom, his employer should lavish upon him blessings until he grows to be greater than his employer and rises to the level of Mashiach ben David, “until David became great.”