Millions around the world watched in fascination as King Charles III was crowned as King of England. Rabbi Mendel Itzinger looks at the events through Jewish lenses and takes 10 lessons we can learn from the coronation.
By Rabbi Mendel Itzinger – Head of Igud Yeshivos Lubavitch
It sounds silly.
It’s easy to think it’s archaic and “make-believe”. Mature people desperately trying to keep the charade going.
But it’s not.
It’s as real as anything else in this world.
Real enough that we make a Brocha, using Hashem’s name and definition – שנתן מכבודו!
It’s real, because regardless of whether the king will actually use his power; the people of a country decided to elevate his stature to ‘King’, and they, the people, decided to accord him the respect afforded to no other.
Malchusa Deara Ke’ein Malchusa Derakia, Rav Sheshes tells us. And the Chasam Sofer tells us that honoring him is a Chiyuv Min HaTorah – so much so that if one has an opportunity to honor him but doesn’t, it is as if he didn’t put on Tefillin one day.
So, below are:
Ten Things I Learned from the King’s Coronation
1. The importance of מסורה and מנהג
Of the pomp and ceremony at the coronation, virtually all of it is “the way things have been done for a thousand years”.
It is this continuance that provides a tangible link to generations past, providing a visual declaration that we are a link of an unbroken chain since the beginning of it all.
2. The way we act – is the way we really are.
You may wish a king was superhuman, an unsalable Tzadik. But in the absence of that, elevating an individual into that ‘role’ and asking them to ‘act’ the part, makes him so. For real! (See above)
In our own lives: Sure, we want to be perfect בינונים – changing and refining our Midos. But until we achieve that, know this; the way we act defines in large measure who we are.
Act the way we should – we are, for that moment, a בינוני.
Have a problem with anger? Control yourself once.
That is real. The way we act, the way we treat our desired actions is real!
Perhaps the same idea from another angle
3. Our clothes [לבושים] help us define ourselves.
Why the crown, the robes, the regalia? Because it defines a king to himself and his people.
Why wear a hat and jacket? Why a particular shirt? Because in this עולם השקר, we are moved by the way we dress.
4. Theoretical power – even if we don’t use it – is power, nonetheless.
Of course, המעשה הוא העיקר – doing a Mitzva is the ultimate and only thing.
Still, if we find a Yid who hasn’t managed to use his power yet, the fact that he has a נפש אלוקית within him, which he can utilize at any time, defines him, nonetheless, as a בן מלך, a חלק אלוקה.
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of your own קבלת עול מלכות שמים.
The Eibishter is king regardless of what anyone says, does, or thinks – but affirming it helps not only you – but all the inhabitants of heaven and earth.
6. אל יבוש מפני בני אדם המלעיגים
Others may laugh and claim that you have old-fashioned clothes and customs [Minhogim]– but don’t listen to them, continue to hold on to your מנהגים and לבושים. Because your Avoda will outlive and outshine all the scoffers.
7. Take yourself (and your Avoda) seriously – and others will too.
8. Keeping in mind the ‘Big-Picture’ is key to ensuring motivation in the day-to-day Avoda.
These days, a key purpose of the king is for the country to have something that rises above the day-to-day technical challenges of the short term and inspires the “bigger picture” – thinking about where we come from and where we are headed.
Whilst day-to-day action – מעשה המצוות – is our goal, it is imperative that we keep in focus the “bigger picture” the ultimate goal of דירה בתחתונים and the strive for דע את אלוקי אביך, by leaning Chassidus. This will provide motivation for our long-term daily focus on the details (the “technical” דקדוק בהלכה) of Maase Hamitzvos.
9. Reality is more fully appreciated – when accompanied by defining Levushim.
There are still a surprisingly large number of constitutional monarchies still around today. The reason you likely don’t know of them is that at some point or another, they decided to scale back what they deemed the “old-fashioned” and “unnecessary” dress pomp and circumstance.
I agree, a cape seems silly. So does a crown for that matter. But without those ‘Levushim’ – all the seemingly “old fashioned” items, the respect for that very same ‘Metzius’ we call king, wanes dramatically.
10. The head needs protection – we may as well protect it with diamonds.
There are many ways to protect our mind from thinking forbidden thoughts. But isn’t it best if rather than “keeping it occupied” we focus it as we should by filling it with Torah and keep it striving for a higher and higher understanding?
I said ten, but there is another important lesson from the coronation:
11. Nixing the seemingly “No-longer Necessary” begins a slippery slope which R”L doesn’t end by the unnecessary…
Does the king really need a sword to fight off enemies these days? I would hope not… he also doesn’t need a cape and a crown, and almost the entirety of the ceremony… but do away with that and the king of England would end up no different than the king of other European countries…
Minhogim, also known as “the way we do things” are a key element keeping us on the right path. Yes, even “the way my Bobby did it” is a part of Torah, and central to קיום המצוות.
The events of the last few days help us understand why…