A Brainless Ruler
A person is comprised of
three parts—מח, intellect, לב, emotions (includes
desires and urges)
and כָּבֵד, physical material.
The Chassam Sofer
(1762–1839) illustrates it in this way: A
wagon is comprised of a driver, horse, and wagon. The driver, in this case,
represents the מח, as he is the brains behind it. He tells
the horse when and where to go. The horse characterizes theלב since animals follow
their instincts. Finally, the wagon signifies the material aspect, כבד. The wagon follows the horse.
Concerning Tzadikim, theמח rules and theלב follows followed by the כבד. Regarding the wicked, it is the opposite just as the horse
that takes his owner to a ditch when the horse is in control. In relation to
Paroh, it says כבד לב פרעה as his heart was run by his כבד, his material aspect.
A true king is one who is
king over himself, in control of himself.
Examples include not overeating, not oversleeping, being in control of what his
eyes see, utilizing his time properly and the like. This is someone who is led
through his intellect, not his emotions and impulses. Just as in the parable
mentioned above, for the wagon to function properly the driver (מח) must be in control, the same applies to a person. His
intellect needs to be in control.
This is hinted to in the word מלך as it is an acronym for מח, לב, כבד.
It is precisely in this sequence since the intellect should lead the emotion
which is then followed by the material aspect.
In this way, we can understand why rabbis are called kings—רבנן איקרו מלכים.
this light, we can comprehend what it says regarding the laws of a king, שום תשים עליך מלך—set over yourself a
king—that we should be in control. The next Pasuk there says not to return to
Mitzrayim. This can be understood to mean don’t return to our own Mitzrayim,
referring to our own constraints.
If we revert back to our negative traits such as anger, jealousy and the like
then we are not in control of ourselves. Following this, it says a king shall
have the Torah with him and he should read from it in order that he learn to
Another interpretation is that a true king should always carry a Sefer Torah
with him because through learning it and inculcating its teachings, it makes
him aמלך over himself as it says בראתי יצר הרע ובראתי לו תורה תבלין, I have created the evil inclination and
the Torah as its antidote.
There were Tzadikim that when
breaking their fast after Yom Kippur would eat food that contained bones since
this would give them control over their desire to eat after such a long fast.
A Nazir is one who is in
control of his desires since he doesn’t drink wine.
Therefore, the wordנזיר is
rooted in נזר, crown,
just as a king wears a crown. Moreover, a crown rests above the head indicating
that he transcended the physical by not being governed by his urges.
We find that Tzadikim are in
control of theirלב whereas the wicked are controlled by their לב.
In reference to the wicked, the Pesukim sayויאמר עשו
בלבו, ויאמר ירבעם בלבו, ויאמר המן בלבו, אמר נבל בלבו.
In contrast, in regard to a Tzadik such as Dovid Hamelech it says ויאמר דוד אל לבו.
Dovid was saying a message to his heart whereas the wicked were dominated by
means of their heart. בלבו means with his heart meaning his reason is
controlled by his passions. אל לבו, to his heart means his reason controlling
his passions. Another instance of this is at Matan Torah where it was כאיש אחד בלב אחד, as one man with one heart—starting from the איש, intellect.
In comparison to Mitzrayim the phrasing used is בלב אחד
כאיש אחד, with one heart as one man,
as their starting point is the לב.
We are told Bilaam could have
cursed us in the moment (רגע) that Hashem gets angry, with the word כלם, destroy them.
However, Hashem reversed it into the wordמלך as it says ותרועת
מלך בו, the
friendship of the King is in him.
In this way, the Daas Zekanim explains ויהפך ה' אלה-יך לך את הקללה לברכה, Hashem reversed the curse (Bilaam’s) to a
blessing for you,
asכלם in reverse spells מלך. Analyzing the word כלם, we notice it forms an
acronym for כבד, לב, מח, the reverse order of the letters of מלך.
merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close
to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt
has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the
author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics.
His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live
with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a
suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is
passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.
It comes as no surprise that
the letters ofמלך are in descending numerical value order (מ is 40,ל is 30 andכ is 20). It represents one who
is in control of his intellect since there is an order.