Heart of the World


In the third chapter of Shir HaShirim, the megillah makes several references to “HaMelekh Shlomo.” The perek ends with a stirring reference to the crown placed onto the Melekh’s head ביום חתנתו וביום שמחת לבו, “on his wedding day and on the day of his heart’s bliss”. Hazal interpret the phrase HaMelekh Shomo as an allegorical reference to HaKadosh Barukh Hu, the King to whom peace belongs (see Ta’anit 26b, Shemot Rabbah 52:5). The wedding day refers to Har Sinai, where Klal Yisrael were wedded to the Ribbono Shel Olam through the marriage contract of the Torah. The acceptance of Torah, culminating with the Jewish people’s loyal declaration of na’aseh v’nishma, we will do and we will say, marked the beginning of our marriage to the Almighty. 

But the true day of Hashem’s bliss occurs in His “heart”; the Midrash explains that this is a reference to the inauguration of the first temple in the holy city of Yerushalayim. On that glorious day, where the relationship between the Jewish people and Hashem was fully consummated, Klal Yisrael beheld the Divine presence descend upon the Mikdash and made another emphatic declaration, “He is good and His kindness lasts forever!” (Divrei HaYamim 2:7:3). 

The Midrash describes Jerusalem as the heart of the world, highlighting its cosmic significance as the source of all life (see Yefeh To’ar ibid).  Just as without a heart, the human body would cease to function immediately, without Jerusalem, the entire world would lose its physical and spiritual vitality. As we have noted in the past, the initial connection between spirit and flesh occurred on the temple mount, when Adam’s body was first imbued with an animating soul. 

No wonder the nations of the world are obsessed with the holy city (and, in many cases, hostile to Jewish control over it); subconsciously, they recognize that their very existence depends upon and flows forth from Yerushalayim

Jerusalem is the heart of the world much like the king of Israel, the descendant of David HaMelekh, is the heart of the nation. The Rambam explains (Hilkhot Melakhim 3:1-6) that because the king of Israel’s heart is lev kol kehal Yisrael, the heart of the entire nation of Israel, he must maintain excessive standards of spiritual and moral purity. He cannot drink himself into drunkenness, nor may he overly focus on ephemeral worldly riches. Rather, the Rambam writes that he has a special commandment, יהיה עוסק בתורה ובצרכי ישראל ביום ובלילה, to constantly involve himself with Torah study and toil in the needs of Klal Yisrael, day and night. 

As the heart of the nation, the melekh’s sole function is to provide the guf of Khal Yisrael with what it needs: the nourishment of Torah, moral clarity, and constant focus on the physical demands of the nation. 

Similarly, Yerushalayim is the heart of the world, serving as the gateway through which all of humanity receives its physical and spiritual sustenance. But Jerusalem can only properly fulfill her cosmic role when she is filled with her ultimate soul mate, Klal Yisrael

May we witness the return of Klal Yisrael’s healthy, beating heart, as the melekh hamoshaich reclaims his throne in the fully restored Jerusalem, speedily in our days. 

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