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  • Avrohom Jacobson

Shavuot Reflections

The Holiday of Shavuot is celebrated by the Jewish people world-wide. The main theme of the holiday is that G-D gave the Jewish People the Torah more than 3,300 years ago, and on this holiday G-D “re-gives” the Torah and the Jewish People renew their acceptance of G-d's gift. The Sages compare this to a marriage between G-D and the Jewish People, for on this day the Jewish People became eternally bonded with G-D, each side pledging everlasting devotion. David's Life

Shavuot also marks the anniversary of the birth and passing of King David. King David is a special personality in the history of the Jewish People. As a youngster in his father's home, David was an outstanding shepherd, caring for each individual sheep in his flock. He protected them from wild animals and, truly sensitive to his flock’s needs, he set up a system in which they all got to eat their fill, from the most delicate young lambs to the oldest weakened sheep. This sensitivity inspired G-D to appoint David to shepherd G-d's people. He himself was the black sheep of his family, to the point that when the Prophet Samuel told Jesse, David's father, that one of his sons will be anointed as King of Israel, Jesse presented all of his sons except for David. Throughout his life David experienced many travails, but he was always singing and reciting Psalms to

G-D, the Tehilim.

The incredible book of Tehilim is attributed to King David, even though many of the individual chapters were composed by others. In Rabbeinu Yosef Ibn Yahya’s forward, the book is compared to the Torah itself. In general, Tihilim, is considered the “Torah of prayer”. It seems quite fitting that King David is associated with the day of the giving of the actual Torah. Throughout all generations, a book of Tehilim has been an essential component of a Jewish home. Whether a great sage or a simpleton, it gives everyone the ability to both entreat G-D and to express thanksgiving and praise to the Creator. King David was the perfect person to bequeath the gift of Psalms to the Jewish People, because during his entire life, whether experiencing the lowest lows or the highest highs, his lips never ceased from singing the praises of G-D. As Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch put it (originally in Yiddish), “The others said the words of Psalms, but he expressed them”. King David's Genealogy

Genealogy holds an important role pertaining to King David regarding both his ancestry, and his descendants. On Shavuot, many Jewish communities have the custom to read the Scroll of Ruth. One of the reasons for this is because Ruth was the great-grandmother of King David. Ruth was a Moabite princess who converted to Judaism, and specifically she was chosen to be the ancestress of King David. When David was anointed as King by the Prophet Samuel, he acquired the kingship for himself and his descendants forever. Because of this, the Messiah, who will be the King in the time of the redemption, must descend from King David. King David's Descendants

Although King David lived many years ago, and therefore he may feel far removed from us, he was a real person and his descendants live among us today. You yourself may be a descendant. David Einsiedler attempts to shed some light on who are the descendants of King David in the Jewish Ashkenazi communities of Central and Eastern Europe. According to the Book of Chronicles, King David had a total of 22 sons (one dies in infancy) and 1 daughter. Each of his children bore their own children and so on, and this translates into thousands upon thousands of descendants today.

There are a number of families mentioned in Rabbinic sources as being descended from King David. For the Jewish communities of Central and Eastern Europe, they have connection to either Judah Lowe the Elder of Prague (Maharal) or Rabbi Shlomo Itzchaki of Troyes (Rashi). The families and descendants of these Rabbis are known to be of Davidic descent. There are many family names whose members very likely come from these Rabbis and their families and therefore would be of Davidic descent. Descent from Rashi and other sages is central to the theme of Peddlers and Parchments.

Jewish People are not the only ones interested of descent from King David. Queen Victoria of Britain was convinced that the British royal family was descended from King David and she therefore had all of her male offspring circumcised. The tradition continued through Edward VII, the Duke of Windsor, and Prince Charles. King David was a truly special and righteous figure that well deserves all the interest of those lucky enough to have him as their ancestor. The Jewish People in its totality is awaiting the coming of the Messiah, the most important descendant of King David. He will usher in the redemption, the time when we will be able to study and keep the Torah that G-D gave us on Shavuot over 3,300 years ago in peace and tranquility.

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