Uniting the Sun and Moon Over Jerusalem

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Even a casual perusal through Torah and our liturgy reveals deeply rooted connections between David HaMelekh and the moon. Not surprisingly, when we sanctify the new moon monthly, we make reference to David’s immortal reign over the destiny of Klal Yisrael, as promised by Hashem on so many occasions. דוד מלך ישראל חי וקיים. Just as the moon wanes and disappears, only to renew itself, so too David’s legacy will always return and renew itself even after centuries of exile. 

But interestingly, David HaMelekh is also linked to the sun as well. In Tehillim 89 (37-38), the immortality of David’s dynasty is linked to both the sun and the moon: זרעו לעולם יהיה וכסאו כשמש נגדי, His seed will endure forever, and his throne shall be like the sun before me. כירח יכול לעולם, Like the moon, it shall be established forever. There are many levels of depth to this dual comparison, but the Malbim (ibid) offers a beautiful interpretation. The moon symbolizes the vicissitudes of exile that Malkhut David undergoes. It waxes and wanes, constantly experiencing periods of explosive growth and then severe setback, God forbid. However, while this painful process continually unfolds from our mortal perspective, from the Ribbono Shel Olam’s perspective, David’s throne always shines brightly like the sun. It is true that we cannot always see the sun, but it is continuously aflame with a fire that never dies. So too, David’s malkhut is truly חי וקיים, alive and enduring, even when we are cast in darkness and cannot see it. 

David’s monarchy is also inextricably linked with the renewal of Jerusalem. In Birkat HaMazon, when beseeching Hashem to shower mercy upon His holy city and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, we also ask for David’s kingship to be restored. In fact, if one only mentions Jerusalem and omits any reference to David’s malkhut, he does not fulfill his obligation and must return to this blessing (Shulhan Arukh 187:4). The rebuilding of Jerusalem goes hand in hand with the restoration of David’s descendant as the king of Klal Yisrael. In our Shemona Esrei prayer, we unite the blessing over the building of Jerusalem with a plea for the establishment of David’s throne. By natural extension, the moon’s monthly renewal and the sun’s constant light serve as a perfect expression of Jerusalem’s cosmic process of destruction and restoration.

We currently find ourselves in the first month of Adar. In our beautifully mysterious calendar, designed by HaKadosh Barukh Hu and implemented for millennia by the greatest of our sages in Jerusalem, the monthly cycle is determined by the moon. However, in certain years such as this one, an extra month of Adar is added to the calendar in order to realign our lunar calendar with the solar year. This powerful reunification of the moon with the sun (a process conspicuously missing from other faiths that took on corrupted forms of our calendar) represents the moon’s renewal coming closer to the permanent light of the sun. It reflects David and Jerusalem growing towards a future in which they permanently shine in glory, never to be diminished again. Despite the vagaries and dips in Jerusalem’s light as Jews experience so much pain and continued division Rachmana litzlan, the day in which the moon’s light will be like the sun’s, ויהי אור הלבנה כאור החמה, draws near. May we see the glowing restoration of Yerushalayim and Malkhut Beit David speedily in our days.

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