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Questionable Ancestry

One cannot help but raise an eyebrow at the most unusual personal history of King David, the founder of the Jewish royal dynasty and the forbearer of Moshiach. For one, he is a descendent of Ruth the Moabite, a convert.

King David passed away on Shavuot, and due to this, it is customary to read the book of Ruth, which tells the story of his family's origin. Ruth the Moabite converted to Judaism, and after the passing of her husband, she joined her mother-in-law Naomi to return to Israel. There she married her deceased husband's relative Boaz, in fulfillment of the biblical command of Yibum, levirate marriage. From this union, David's grandfather was born.

It is important to note that if a convert enters the Jewish people, the Torah commands us to embrace the convert warmly. However, a convert is not appointed as king. Therefore, it seems odd that David, the founder of the Jewish royal dynasty, descends from a convert. (Legally, however, David's status is not one of a convert, and thus there was no impediment to him becoming king.)

To add to the strangeness of David's origin, he is a descendant of Peretz, one of twin sons born to Tamar, the wife of Judah. Tamar had been married to two of Judah's sons, Er and Onan, and married Judah after their passing. However, according to Torah, it is forbidden for a man to marry his former daughter-in-law.

True, Judah's marriage to Tamar took place before the Torah was given, when there were no restrictions on such marriages. Nevertheless, it seems odd that the most respected family in the Jewish nation – the house of David – was established through a relationship (retroactively) forbidden by the Torah.

Similar questions can be raised on other links in King David's lineage. For example, his son and successor, King Solomon, was born from David's union with Bathsheba, which was very problematic indeed. David sent Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to the front lines of war, where he died, upon which David married his widow. Our sages assure us that David did not sin with this union. However, would it not have been preferable for David's successor to have been born from a union that was unquestionably pure?

Not to mention the fact that Moshiach himself will descend from the house of David. Moshiach, the most select of mankind, who will perform a mission that we have been awaiting since the beginning of creation – descends from a series of questionable relationships?

The Zohar explains that the origin of Moshiach came about through questionable means in order to keep the forces of evil from interfering with G-d's plan. The holiness of Moshiach is so great that the forces of evil would do anything to prevent his soul from descending to this world. Therefore, G-d "hid" from them the moment of conception, through cloaking it in form that appeared less than holy.

An analogy to this matter is the most powerful light of the sun, which is harmful to anyone not equipped to handle its rays. However, someone with special powers will not only be unaffected by those powerful rays but will be able to benefit from them, far more than from ordinary rays.

Had the souls of Moshiach and his ancestors been ordinary souls, they would have been spiritually affected by these questionable unions. However, since their souls had special powers, not only were they not affected, they benefited thereby. And the spiritual power engendered by these unions were utilized for the benefit of the Jewish people in general. 

May we merit this Shavuot to witness the fulfillment of the Divine prophecy on the coming of the Redemption. Then we will all benefit openly from Moshiach's special spiritual power, which will come to light. 
 

 


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