Dr. Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph FragerArutz Sheva

Shavuot is “Zeman Matan Torateinu”. How does the celebration of Torah and the Anniversary of the Sinaitic Covenant relate to King David? This is an essential question for Shavuot.

For starters King David is intimately connected to Shavuot because he was born and passed away on The Chag (Jerusalem Talmud Hagigah 2:3) which the Gemara calls “Atzeret”.

The Migaleh Amukot (in Parshat Va’eira)brings down the Gemara in Yoma (96) which discusses our Great Leaders (“Shnei Parnasim Tovim”) Moshe Rabeinu and King David. The Migaleh Amukot learns out from this reference that Moshe represents Torah Sh’Bictav (Written Law) and King David represents Torah Sh’Bal Peh (Oral Law).

Parshat Bechukotai which is always read before Shavuot states, “These are the decrees, the ordinances and the Torot that HaShem gave, between Himself and the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai, through Moshe.”(26:46) Rashi comments on the pleural nature of the word Torot used in the Posuk that it refers to the two Torot given on Mount Sinai-the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. Rashi is emphasizing the fact that the word “Torot” means that both were given to Moshe on Mount Sinai.

King David’s very existence represents Torah Sh’Bal Peh. His acceptance as a Jew is based upon Torah Sh’Bal Peh. Samuel who wrote Megillat Ruth as a rebuttal to the doubters and skeptics of King David’s Jewishness based his whole thesis on the Torah Sh’Bal Peh concept of a Moabite man is prohibited from joining the Jewish People but not a Moabitess like Ruth. King David and the Davidic Dynasty are the greatest testimony and support there is to the extraordinary value and Kedusha of Torah Sh’Bal Peh. Hence, the Holiday of Shavuot is highlighting this crucial and everlasting fact. King David is quintessential to Har Sinai and the Oral Law given by the Almighty on Shavuot.

King David’s learning of Torah is legendary. In Tehillim 119:147 King David says “I arose early in the evening and cried out; I placed my Hope in Your word.” In Tehillim 119:62 King David says, “At midnight I rose to thank You, for Your just laws.” The Gemara in Brachot 3b clarifies exactly what King David did at each of these times but his dedication to Torah is paramount.

Chazal say that just as Moshe Rabeinu’s Torah Sh’Bictav was divided into Five Books, so too was King David’s Tehillim separated into five seforim.

The Midrash Tehillim (Chapter 1) says that learning Psalms is comparable to learning Mishnayot Negaim and Oholim. This places Tehillim on the spiritual level of Mishnayot which are Torah Sh’Bal Peh. The Gemara in Brachot 3b quoted above would seem to concur since one of the explanations given for the discrepancy in the two Pesukim in Tehillim 119 is that King David would study Torah during the first half of the night and sing songs of Psalms after midnight.

The Bal Hatanye and the Chasidic movement certainly feel that Tehillim are on the spiritual level of Torah Sh’Bal Peh. Rav Chaim Voloshin disagreed. He would say that the Midrash Tehillim was not saying they were on the same level. In either event, despite arguments such as these which are” Leshaim Shamayim”, traditions that survive hundreds of years generally are accepted. Tehillim therefore is now considered on at least the spiritual level of Torah Sh’Bal Peh.

The Or Ha’Chaim in Bereishit 49:11 brings down a Zohar which states that Moshe who took us out of Egypt will be the Moshiach in the future.

So how does one reconcile this Zohar with the concept of Moshiach Ben Dovid which is one of our essential beliefs?

One could say that the Zohar by its very nature is not to be taken at face value. It is not an explicit reference. It is more of a Remez. It is true that Moshe should have and could have been Moshiach for all time leading us directly into the Promised Land but because of our stumbles the Messianic age was pushed off.

The best way of explaining this obscure Zohar is that Moshe was an amalgam of all 600,000 Male Neshamot who were present at Har Sinai. In essence Moshe was in each of these Neshamot and each of these Neshamot were in Moshe. Hence King David inherited part of the Neshama of Moshe Rabeinu.

The Neshama of Moshe is present in every generation. The root of Malchut (Kingship) is Moshe who was the original designated Moshiach.

When the Jews were at Har Sinai they were on the level of Adam HaRishon in Gan Eden prior to his eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Moshe was the original Moshiach. The Jews fell down from the great heights of Har Sinai after the sin of the Golden Calf and the sin of the Meraglim. When Moshiach Ben Dovid comes in the modern era, the Jews will return to their pristine state of Adam HaRishon in Gan Eden at least on the spiritual level.

King David and his dynasty will be the new Adam HaRishon. Just as King David’s 70 years completed the 930 years of Adam HaRishon so too will Moshiach Ben Dovid become the full and total embodiment of the original Adam HaRishon without blemish.

Both Amram, the father of Moshe and Yishai, the father of King David were sin free and died because of Adam HaRishon’s eating from the Tree of Knowledge. This is a further connection between Moshe and King David.

Both my Great Grandfather- Rav Yitzchak Isaac Chaver and the Chesed L’Avrohom, the grandfather of the Chida (based upon a Zohar) emphasize the name “Adam” (AD’M) refers to Adam HaRishon, King David and Moshiach (A=Adam, D=David, M=Moshiach). Once again there is a hint to King David and Moshiach in the name of the very first human being created by G-d.

Just as King David was an extension of Adam HaRishon, he is a leading figure on par with Moshe Rabeinu. Shavuot really raises Torah Sh’Bal Peh to a new level. The Tzedukkim(Sadducees) did not follow Torah Sh’Bal Peh and took Torah Sh’Bictav literally. Hence they observed the first day of the Omer on Sunday since the Posuk says, “You should count for yourselves-from the morrow of the Sabbath, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waiving-seven week's , they shall be complete.” Leviticus(23:15). The Parushim(Pharisees) who believed in the Oral Law and who we follow to this day said the word “Sabbath” is related to the first day of Yom Tov. This too highlights in a major way the celebration of both the Written Law and the Oral Law on Shavuot.

King David lived and breathed Torah Sh’Bal Peh. He was truly a living Torah. His actions were Torah. His thoughts were Torah. He was an interactive, dynamic, and full throttle Torah.

The Sefat Emet elaborates extensively about the first and second Luchot(Tablets).

The first were written by G-d directly and represent Torah Sh’Bictav. The second Luchot were written by Moshe who had to work painstakingly hard to finish the job. The second Luchot therefore represent Torah Sh’Bal Peh. A struggle was involved. There were trials and tribulations. This is the nature of Torah Sh’Bal Peh. That was the life of King David.

Chazal also say that King David was the ultimate example of a Bal Tshuva. Hence, Tachanun begins, “And David said to G-d, I am exceedingly distressed. Let us fall into Hashem’s hand for His mercies are abundant, but let me not fall into human hands.”Samuel (24:14)

Now, we are making our way to the 6000th year since creation when we are guaranteed no matter what Moshiach will come. This is through Torah Sh’Bal Peh that we know this.

It is now clear how profoundly and inextricably, King David, Moshe and Shavuot are interconnected and bound.

In memory to my Beloved Parents Mordechai Abraham Ben Samuel Z’L and Malka Bat Zalman Yehuda Z’L.

Special Thanks to my beloved brother Rabbi Dr. David Frager S’HLITA