King David Lives Forever!
Yael Eckstein | March 3, 2023
Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—
and I will not lie to David—
that his line will continue forever
and his throne endure before me like the sun;
it will be established forever like the moon,
the faithful witness in the sky. —Psalm 89:35-37
As The Fellowship marks the fourth anniversary of the passing of my father, Fellowship Founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, I offer you a selection of devotions on the spiritual importance of legacy and leadership in his honor.
One of the most popular Jewish songs, taught to most Jewish children at the youngest age, is David Melech Yisrael chai ve’kayam — “David, king of Israel, is alive and well!” The words are taken from a very interesting piece of our liturgy.
Every month, when the new moon appears, the new Jewish month begins. As part of the liturgy that we recite when we bless the new moon each month, we recite these words. Why? What does the reign of King David have to do with the moon?
Around the second century of the Common Era, the rabbis in Israel had a dilemma. According to Jewish law, every new month had to be announced by two witnesses who spotted the new moon in the sky.
However, the Romans, who ruled and oppressed the people of Israel at the time, made this ancient practice illegal. The rabbis decided to devise a code phrase that would signify the onset of the new month. The phrase was: “David, King of Israel, is alive and well!”
King David Lives Forever!
The Second Temple sages who instituted this code phrase based it on Psalm 89: “Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness—and I will not lie to David—that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.”
Just as the moon waxes and wanes, so, too, would the Davidic dynasty have its highs and lows—and Roman rule over Israel was one of those darker times. But the new moon appears just after it seems to be completely gone.
By comparing the reign of David to the moon, the rabbis didn’t just come up with a clever code. They were expressing our faith and trust in God that, no matter how dark the exile may be, the light of King David will eventually shine again.
Today, thousands of years later, we sing the song that David is alive and well as a symbol of the people of Israel’s perseverance throughout centuries of persecution. The people of Israel have had highs and lows, but they will never completely disappear.
There are times when we feel at a loss for leadership. We yearn for the seed of David to return to the throne. Let’s never lose hope. King David lives forever!
Remember that the reign of the seed of David is forever. God will provide the leadership we need. Never lose faith!