By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
After Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook eulogized Dr. Theodor Herzl, he wrote an article called “The Eulogy in Jerusalem,” where he displayed his outlook about the relationship between the body and the soul of the Jewish nation. His words are relevant for our generation, and we will try to summarize them here.
It is written, “On that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning for Hadad-Rimmon in the Valley of Megiddon” [Zecharya 11:12]. In his translation, Yonatan Ben Uziel writes: “Like the eulogy for Achav, who was killed by Hadad-Rimmon and like the eulogy for Yoshiyahu, who was killed by Pharaoh Necho in the Valley of Megiddo.” The people of Eretz Yisrael were shocked, and Yonatan Ben Uziel apologized, saying that he wrote what he did in order not to increase the controversy in Yisrael.
The sages taught us that this refers to the mourning for Mashiach Ben Yosef, who will be killed. We might ask why we need two messiahs, one descended from Yosef and the other from David. Rav Kook explains that just as a human being is a combination of two basic elements, the body and the soul, so in man there are two basic traits. The task of one of these is to strengthen the body, and the other one acts to improve the soul. The way to achieve perfection is for each side to show appreciation for the other one, and to understand that the person cannot exist without both sides. However, the body must know that the soul should be in the lead.
In our nation too, some forces are involved in building up the nationalistic elements, while other forces work to strengthen the soul of the nation. The goal of both sides is to establish a powerful nation with a healthy soul, and the soul takes the lead in the effort. The two different forces were installed from the beginning in two tribes. Yehuda is the tribe which is responsible for the soul of the nation, and therefore Yehuda was sent ahead of the others to establish a house of learning in Egypt. Yosef is responsible for economic success, and he was therefore sent to Egypt before any of the others. In the end, both forces will be united in the character of David, who was “redheaded, with beautiful eyes” [Shmuel I 16:12], who killed the enemy in wars but only while following instructions from the Sanhedrin. That is what the sages taught us.
After the era of David, the Kingdom was divided, when Yeravam, who was from the tribe of Yosef, split away from Yehuda. “The Holy One, Blessed be He, took hold of Yeravam’s cloak and said to him: Change your mind, and I, you, and the son of Yishai will stride together in the Garden of Eden.” That is, we will build up the nation of Yisrael together. But the answer to Yeravam’s question, “Who will go first?” was, of course, “The son of Yishai will be first,” and Yeravam refused. (See Sanhedrin 102.) And from then on the House of Yisrael has been divided. Some parties are involved in emphasizing the nationalistic aspects and tend to ignore the Torah. Others give strong support to the Torah but are not interested in nationalistic aspects at all.
These two segments of the nation can be seen in the actions of Achav and Yoshiyahu. Achav loved the nation and built up Eretz Yisrael, but he turned his back on the Torah. Yoshiyahu was close to the Torah, but he did not see any importance in the nationalistic side. When these two were killed, only their respective parties mourned for them. However, the death of Mashiach Ben Yosef will be a great shock for the nation, and each party will begin to understand how wrong it was to ignore the other one. Therefore, the eulogy for Mashiach will be as great as that related to “ Hadad-Rimmon in the Valley of Megiddon” – the eulogy of Achav, who was killed by the son of Hadad – and also the eulogy of Yoshiyahu, who was killed in the Valley of Megiddo. Matters cannot be rushed, and the forces cannot be combined before the proper time arrives, and therefore these matters were kept hidden. However, Yonatan Ben Uziel was convinced that this was the root of the disagreements in Yisrael, and he therefore took it upon himself to “reveal the secret.”