Torah for Dorks: Lord of the Rings and the King of Kings

Crowning God as “King” is a hard concept for me to wrap my head around, and it’s also one of the main psychological/spiritual/liturgical themes of Rosh Hashanah. Even though I realize God is infinite and beyond any concept, on Rosh Hashanah I feed my finite mind specific finite ideas that create a mindset which will allow me to experience how the infinite is expressing itself on this awesome day. Crowning God as King is an acknowledgment that what we do matters. That we will have to answer for our actions. That existence is not arbitrary but created with Divine intention. There is a King.

Except, I don’t relate to kings. I am a consumer child of the instant gratification ’80s, and Walkmans (the equivalent in novelty/desirability to the iPhones of today) were foremost in my mind in terms of importance. So in terms of kingship, sometimes I have to turn to unconventional sources as a reference point so I can psychologically psyche myself up for Rosh Hashanah.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” is one of my favorite resources to tune my mind into the epic nature of what it means to have a king.

The following passage describes the moment that, after a lifetime of existing mostly as an anonymous wanderer performing heroic acts in secret, Aragorn son of Arathorn, heir to the throne of Gondor, stands before his city Minas Tirith after victory against the forces of the evil Mordor and is finally acknowledged as king and given the crown by Faramir, the steward of the city. I use this scene as a mental spice for my brain in preparing for Rosh Hashanah and crowning Hashem as King.

Then to the wonder of many Aragorn did not put the crown upon his head but gave it back to Faramir, and said: “By the labour and valour of many have I come into my inheritance. In token of this I would have the Ring-bearer bring the crown to me, and let Mithrandir set it upon my head, if he will; for he has been the mover of all that has been accomplished, and this is his victory.”

Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to Gandalf, and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head, and said:

“Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!”

But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to the that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as sea-kings of old, he stood above all there were near; ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him. And then Faramir cried:

“Behold the King!”

Although this is but a tale of fantasy I believe it contains a spark of reality. The reality that within each of us is nobility and royalty and that when we do teshuva — when we return to ourselves — we return to our goodness and experience the revelation of our greatness; we stand in praise of the light of the King of Kings.


This was originally published on the Huffington Post.

One thought on “Torah for Dorks: Lord of the Rings and the King of Kings

  1. I like the analogy. It’s definitely tricky for us, having never experienced any monarchy business, to wrap our minds around what it’s like. I’ve been thinking about it for the past couple of days, thinking about paintings I’ve seen of throne rooms and the majesty they project, etc.

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