The rationale [the Midrash gives] as to why the “clever person” chooses the king and not his officers is that “the others are all subject to replacement, while the king is not subject to replacement.”1 On the surface, it can be explained [that the Midrash's] intent is that the influence that comes from the sitra achra2 — (even though it is more abundant than the influence that comes from holiness) — is merely temporary, something that will not endure. For after the task of refinement is completed and the sparks [of G‑dliness] that fell into kelipah (and from which kelipah derives its vitality) are refined and elevated, [the kelipah] will be nullified3 entirely.4 {Certainly, this applies with regard to the Jewish people, for even in the present era, a Jew can only receive vitality from the nether sidetemporarily.}5

The converse is also true. The fact that influence from holiness is measured and limited is only true in the present era. [Ultimately,] after the source of the inward influence is revealed — its source being the inner dimension of the encompassing light — the influence granted to the side of holiness will be far greater than the abundance that stems from the external dimension of the encompassing light6 (from which the kelipos can also derive nurture).7 [In this vein,] our Sages state: “If this is what those who transgress [G‑d’s] will receive, certainly, those who fulfill His will receive even greater [benefit].8

This explanation, however, is not sufficient. For from it, it [naturally] follows that the “clever person’s” choice of the king would also be because of the influence he will receive. The difference between him and those who choose the other officers (the duke and the like) is that they merely look at the present situation, while “the clever person” thinks about the future, as our Sages say:9 “Who is a wise man? One who sees what will be.” [Thus, according to this explanation, there is no fundamental difference between the two.]10 However, the fact that the Midrash states that Jews “solely serve the Holy One, blessed be He,” because “ ‘G‑d is my portion,’ says my soul,” indicates that the “clever person’s” choice of the king is not because of the benefit that he will derive, but solely because of the king.11 The reason the Jews choose G‑d even though at present abundant influence is granted to those who violate His will (is not because [of the calculation] that afterwards, those who fulfill His will receive an even greater measure of influence. Rather,) their choice is motivated by the fact that the influence granted to those who fulfill His will is given from the inner dimensions of His will; it is His true desire. The influence given to those who violate His will, by contrast, is given like one who throws something over his shoulder to his enemy, against his will.12 Therefore the Jews desire the influence that is given to those who fulfill His will, because — even though it is lesser — it emanates from His inner will and desire.13

[One might ask: If the “clever person’s” choice of the king is because of his desire to bond with him, why does the Midrash offer the rationale] that all the others are subject to replacement?14 [In resolution,] the intent of the statement is that the fact that they are all subject to replacement indicates that even at present, [while they are in power,] they do not represent true existence.15 [In the analogue,] the fact that [the stars and the constellations] possess vitality that enables them to convey life-energy to the animals and to the nations of the world is not because of their own inherent power, but rather because they derive [vitality] from the realm of holiness.16 Now, since the vitality that comes from the holiness within them does not become one with them17 — (on the contrary, it is in exile within them) — their inherent state is one of death.18 {The same applies to those who receive their vitality from them. As explained in Tanya,19 the wicked are referred to as “dead”20 because their vitality stems from a place of death and impurity.}

On this basis, we can understand [the “clever man’s” statement]: “I will choose the king, [because] all the others are subject to replacement.” He does not desire the influence that is drawn down from the place of death and impurity even though it is abundant. Instead, he desires influence from the realm of holiness even though it is limited in nature, [for he desires to receive from the king himself].21