Electing a King

Does the Torah require a Jewish Monarchy?

When the people asked Nevi Samuel to appoint a King he strenuously objected to the appointment of a King! 1 Samuel 8.6, 11-18.

Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have asked for; and, behold, the L-RD hath set a king over you. 1 Samuel 12.13

We find two types of kings in the TANAK (Jewish Bible):

Shaul (Rebellious [1 Samuel] 13.12-14 presumptuous, 15.11, 23, fearing the people [24] and persecuting the righteous [1 Samuel 19.1])

1 Samuel 15.9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, even the young of the second birth, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but every thing that was of no account and feeble, that they destroyed utterly.

12 And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning; and it was told Samuel, saying: ‘Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he is setting him up a monument, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.’

24 And Saul said unto Samuel: ‘I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the L-RD, and thy words; because I feared the people, and hearkened to their voice.

1Samuel 13.12 therefore said I: Now will the Philistines come down upon me to Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favour of the L-RD; I forced myself therefore, and offered the burnt-offering.’ 13 “And Samuel said to Saul: ‘Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of the L-RD thy G-D, which He commanded thee; for now would the L-RD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. 14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue; the L-RD hath sought him a man after His own heart, and the L-RD hath appointed him to be prince over His people, because thou hast not kept that which the L-RD commanded thee.’ ” ; and,

David (Praiseworthy, Tehillim 1.1, 84.5, 144.15 and Dedicated to HaShem with all his heart – Tehillim 30, together with 34; and Repentant, Tehillim [Psalms] 51). The penitent King whom HaShem chose to be and appointed him as a Prince forever – a “man after G-D’s own heart!”

2 Samuel 6.14 And David danced before the L-RD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.

Maimonides states that it is an OBLIGATION to appoint a King when we enter the Land of Israel, based on the passage in Devarim [Deuteronomy] 17:14-20. What do other authorities state, in light of Samuel’s displeasure at the type of King they have chosen?

It seems to me that this passage in Devarim 17 must be read in light of the passage (Shmoth [Exodus] 19.6) in which Israel is called “a kingdom of Priests and a holy nation!”

Additionally, why does the Torah say in Devarim 17:15, “one whom HaShem shall choose?” Is this in reference to 1 Samuel 16.12?

(“And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of beautiful eyes, and goodly to look upon. And the L-RD said: ‘Arise, anoint him; for this is he.’ “)

 

There is only One king in the TANAK (Jewish Bible) whom HaShem chose to be a Shepherd over Bnai Yisrael and that is “Roi” David; because HaShem took David from the sheepfold! (Tehillim 78.70-71 “He chose David also His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds; From following the ewes that give suck He brought him, To be shepherd over Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.)

2 Samuel 7.8 Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto My servant David: Thus saith the L-RD of hosts: I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be prince over My people, over Israel. (1 Chronicles 17.7 same)

The other King, Shaul – the people, (rather than trust in HaShem and Samuel to deliver them from Nahash [1 Samuel 12.10-11]) in rebellion chose and asked for [Shaul] to be their king: 10 “And they cried unto the L-RD, and said: We have sinned, because we have forsaken the L-RD, and have served the Baalim and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve Thee. 11 And the L-RD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelt in safety.”

1 Samuel 12.12, 13- 12 “And when ye saw that Nahash _1/ the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me: Nay, but a king shall reign over us; when the L-RD your G-D was your king. 13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have asked for; and, behold, the L-RD hath set a king over you.”

“And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.” Ezekiel 34.23-24

24 And I the L-RD will be their G-D, and My servant David prince (Nasi) among them; I the L-RD have spoken.

“and My servant David prince among them” –

this (prophesy establishing “My servant David prince [“Nasi” rather than as king “melech“]  among them”) is the restoration of the Kingdom, that is, the Throne to HaShem! (For we find in 1 Samuel 8.7, “They have not rejected you [as king over them, see: 1 Samuel 12.10 end of passuk – “… and we will serve Thee.”] but they have rejected Me as king over them.” [in electing Shaul as King “like all other nations”])

“afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the L-RD their G-D, and David their king; and shall come trembling unto the L-RD and to His goodness in the end of days.” (Hoshea 3.5)


“But they shall serve the L-RD their G-D, And David their king, Whom I will raise up unto them.” (Jeremiah 30.9)

David, a prince (Nasi, a subordinate one, recognizing his place amongst rulers) is the man after HaShem’s heart! 1 Samuel 13.14

****

***

1. King of the Ammonites. At the beginning of Saul’s reign Nahash attacked Jabesh-gilead, and when the people of that place asked for terms of surrender he gave them the alternatives of having their right eyes thrust out or of being put to the sword. The inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead then obtained a respite of seven days and sent messengers to Saul, who assembled an army and routed the Ammonites (I Sam. xi. 1-4, 11). It appears, however, from I Sam. xii. 12, that Nahash had threatened the Israelites before Saul was made king, and that it was for this reason the Israelites insisted upon having a king.

(Source:  1906 Jewish Encyclopedia)

Temple Harp Project: Returning the Music of Messiah to the World

Breaking Israel News

Praise Hashem with the lyre; with the ten-stringed harp sing to Him. Psalms 33:2 (The Israel Bible™)

The Temple of Solomon was filled with the music of 4,000 harps and a remarkable couple have been on a lifelong journey to return that music in time for the Third Temple. Praise Hashem with the lyre; with the ten-stringed harp sing to Him. (Psalms 33:2)

They recently released a video depicting the long-awaited fulfillment of the Psalm; a Jewish child returning to Israel removing a harp from a willow where her forefathers had hung it upon going out into exile.

The story of Micah and Shoshanna Harrari is a microcosm of the Jewish exile. As a young couple in the early ‘70’s, they wandered the U.S., living in shacks, teepees, tents and sometimes sleeping outside.

“We were looking for the perfect place,” Shoshanna told Breaking Israel News. “For us, that meant someplace beautiful. We lived in some beautiful places but we were always restless. If anyone said, ‘you should check this place out,’ we would pull up roots and go live there.”

At one point in their wanderings, they were living in a shack in a forest in Colorado. With no electricity or running water, their entertainment was limited to reading to each other by candlelight. In the winter, a massive snowstorm buried their cabin, trapping them inside. They had a plentiful supply of firewood and enough food and water, but they had read all their books. After three days of being trapped, cabin fever began to set in. In desperation, they began to read the bible they carried along their journey but had never read.

“There we were with Avraham and Sarah, our relatives, in the cabin,” Shoshanna said. “It was great. This became our main reading material and we were immediately captivated by Hashem’s words. When we got to the prophets, one message kept being repeated; that Hashem will call back the Jews so we can settle our land and never be uprooted.”

“This blew us away. Every time we read this, we knew it was an invitation to go to the land of our ancestors and help build up our homeland. We knew nothing about Israel but it sounded like our kind of place. We thought we could get a donkey and cart and wander around like Avraham and Sarah.”

The message was clear but it took several years for the Harraris to finish wandering. They meandered eastward, living in Vermont for a while. One night, they both woke up with the clear feeling that they needed to move on. The next day, they left, making their way across the Atlantic Ocean. A few months later, they were living in a teepee in Portugal when the midnight message came to them once again. They drove toward Israel, arriving in Greece in 1982. On a whim, they went to the ticket office for a shipping line and discovered the next boat to Israel was leaving in one hour. They didn’t hesitate, jumping aboard immediately. Not so many days later, they landed in Israel.

“The only contact we had was a friend of a friend of a friend in Jerusalem,” Shoshanna said. “We knocked on their door and introduced ourselves, not knowing that it was two hours before Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).”

The holiday settled the matter: they were home. Eventually, the Harraris settled in Tiberias on the shores of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) where Micah set up a carpentry shop. Shoshanna had always wanted a harp for some reason she didn’t entirely understand.

“I am the daughter of a Kohen so I am sure there is some ancient connection,” Shoshanna explained.

Micah was a trained luthier and musical instrument craftsmen, but due to their nomadic lifestyle, had never had the opportunity to work in the field. Perhaps inspired by the Kinneret whose name means ‘harp,’ he announced to his wife that the time had come for him to fulfill her musical dream.

Such a project required preparation and research. The only harps they were familiar with were the type used to play classical music. They learned that archaeologists had discovered cave drawings of a harp in Megiddo. The drawings were believed to be 3,000 years old, meaning the Megiddo lyre would have been the instrument young David played to soothe a troubled King Saul.

“We had no idea that no one had made a harp like this in 2,000 years,” Shoshanna said. “When we first started making harps, we didn’t think anyone would even want harps. But we knew we were going to do it anyway.”

The first harp took a long time to come together, spending months looking more like scrap wood in their living room than a potential musical instrument worthy to grace the Temple. A random meeting in 1984 with a writer from The Jerusalem Post resulted in an article on the Harrari’s David harp project. The article generated unexpected interest and the Harp Project was begun.

As a result of the article, they were contacted by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, founder of the Temple Institute.

“He told us that one day there would be a Temple and there would need to be harps ready for the Temple service,” Shoshanna said.

Rabbi Ariel immediately commissioned a harp for the Temple Institute with the intention that it would be used in the Third Temple. More research revealed that the Temple had both nevel (harp) and kinor (lyre). As donations came in, the Temple Institute commissioned more harps from the Harraris.

Just before Pesach, Shoshanna was overcome with another inspiration.

“I looked around and realized that everything to bring geula (redemption) was really moving. I felt that people should know this, in case they wanted to be part of it.”

The Harraris decided to create a video depicting the role of David’s harp in geula inspired by Psalms.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, sat and wept, as we thought of Tzion. There on the poplars we hung up our lyres, for our captors asked us there for songs, our tormentors, for amusement, “Sing us one of the songs of Tzion.” How can we sing a song of Hashem on alien soil? Psalms 137:1-4

“As we were going to exile in Babylon, the last thing we saw were the harps from the Temple hanging from the trees,” Shoshanna said. “The Jews prayed that one day, Jews would return and take the harps off the trees. The whole purpose of music used to be to connect to Hashem. We wanted to bring this back into the world.”

This became the theme of the video, depicting the fulfillment of those prayers. A harp is taken from an ancient willow and brought to Jerusalem with singing and joy.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHarrariHarps%2Fvideos%2F767148643492199%2F&show_text=0&width=560Apparently, interest in the Temple harp is strong since more than 30,000 people have watched the video on the Harrari’s Facebook page.

The Temple Harp Project is an ongoing non-profit endeavor to create harps and lyres for the Third Temple.

Appointing a Melekh (King)

YESHIVAT HAR ETZION

ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)

*********************************************************

THE WEEKLY MITZVA

The htm version of this shiur for easy printing is available at: http://vbm-torah.org/archive/mitzva/48mitzva.htm

Parashat Shoftim

Appointing a Melekh (King)

By Rav Binyamin Tabory

When Bnei Yisrael enter Eretz Yisrael, they are commanded to fulfill three mitzvot: They must appoint a king, destroy all of Amalek, and build the Beit Hamikdash (Sanhedrin 20b, as codified by the Rambam, Hilkhot Melakhim 1:1). The Rambam goes on to say that the mitzva of appointing a king precedes and seems to be a prerequisite to the other two mitzvot.

The question was raised why God was so angered by the request of Bnei Yisrael to appoint a king in the time of Shmuel? After all, it is a mitzva to have a king, and they were merely performing God’s will. (See I Shmuel 8:4-8; Sifrei Devarim 17:28; Rambam ibid. 1:2; Meiri Horayot 11b.) The Rambam answered that their request was not motivated by a desire to fulfill the mitzva. It was really a rebellion against Shmuel Hanavi, as it says, “They despised me” (I Shmuel 8:7). Therefore, their request was considered improper.

The Meiri (ibid.) suggested that monarchy is reserved for the tribe of Yehuda. Apparently, at that particular time, there was no appropriate candidate from Shevet Yehuda to serve as king. Therefore, the request to appoint a king at that time was improper. God’s response was they may appoint a “temporary” king who could rule until a suitable person would emerge from Shevet Yehuda. It was wrong to demand a king when there was no suitable candidate from Shevet Yehuda.

In the Gemara (Sanhedrin 20b), there are three opinions regarding Jewish monarchy in general. R’ Nechemia said that the entire issue of appointing a king was written in order to alarm the community to the dangers inherent in monarchy. The mitzva is phrased as a conditional statement which is not obligatory: “When you enter the land which is given to you by God, and possess it and settle, and then say, ‘I wish to appoint a king'” (Devarim 17:14). There is no mitzva to appoint a king, but, if you wish, you may do so. The Navi then warns us of the absolute power of a king who may conscript soldiers, confiscate property, etc. (I Shmuel 8:11-18)

R’ Nehorai agreed with R’ Nechemia that there is no obligation to appoint a king. He said that it is always better not to have a king. However, if the people choose to have a king “like all the other nations in out area,” the Torah allowed it. Since the Torah added this phrase, it implied that any request to appoint a king is motivated by a desire to emulate other nations. It is obviously more appropriate for Am Yisrael to retain its unique identity and proclaim that God alone is our king. Human beings should be political and military leaders, but the kingdom should be reserved for God.

R’ Yehuda said that there is a positive mitzva to appoint a king.

It seems that the Rambam codified the opinion of R’ Yehudah, even though the majority opinion is that monarchy is not the desirable form of government.

R’ Yitzchak Abarbanel was strongly opposed to monarchy. He claimed that there is, in fact, no opinion in the Gemara that there is a mitzva to appoint a king. He pointed out that the Torah actually said that IF the people ask for a king, then we are allowed to appoint a Jewish king. The Torah emphasized that we may not appoint a non-Jewish king. The Torah discussed a situation which may arise in the future (Bnei Yisrael may ask for a king), but did not mandate that there is a mitzva to appoint a king.

In fact, the Abarbanel claimed that even the Rambam did not think that appointing a king was mitzva. The Rambam did not state simply that there is a mitzva to appoint a king. He said that there is a mitzva to appoint a Jewish king. Abarbanel thought that this merely meant that if Bnei Yisrael ask for a king, the appointee must be Jewish. (See the lengthy comments of Abarbanel on Devarim 17.) Many people have disputed this opinion of Abarbanel, and especially reject his understanding of the Rambam. (See Sefer Ha-mitzvot of Rabbeinu Saadyah Gaon v. 3 pg. 230.) There are variant texts in the Frankel edition which read that there is a mitzva to appoint a king for the Jewish people. This text would certainly contradict the Abarbanel’s understanding.

There definitely does seem to be a prohibition not to appoint a non-Jewish king. “You can not appoint a foreigner who is not your brother” (Devarim 17:15). The Rambam explains that this excludes converts as well as non-Jews. In fact, the Rambam codified that a convert may not be appointed to any position of authority (Hilkhot Melakhim 1:4).

The Jewish monarchy is reserved for the Davidic family. The Gemara (Yoma 72b) and Midrash Kohelet (7:1) say that David attained the crown of kingdom, and the Rambam ruled “once David was anointed, he attained the crown of kingdom, and kingdom belongs to him and to his male lineage (if they are fitting) forever” (Hilkhot Melakhim 1:7). In fact, the Rambam polemicized that “anyone who believes in Torat Moshe, the master of all prophets, has no king other than from the lineage of David and Shlomo” (Sefer Ha-mitzvot, La Ta’aseh 362). It seems from his wording that if we should appoint a non-Davidic king, we would transgress the prohibition of appointing a stranger.

Of course, the Rambam recognized the fact that other “kings,” such as Yerovam, were appointed by prophets, such as Achiyah Hashiloni. The Rambam ruled that such appointments are valid and all laws of monarchy do apply to them. He apparently understood that David’s kingdom is eternal, while other families could rule as kings for limited time periods (Rambam ibid. 1:8-12). We are enjoined from giving the permanent crown of David to someone from another family. However, there may be temporary kings from any family.

Another example of a non-Davidic kingdom is found at the time of the second temple. “The Chashmonai high priests overcame [their enemies], rescued the people of Israel, appointed a king from the Kohanim, and the monarchy of Israel was restored for more than two hundred years until the second destruction” (Rambam, Hilkhot Chanuka 3:1).

The Ramban (Bereishit 49:10) totally disagreed with the opinion of the Rambam. The Rambam explained that a Navi appointed the king in the name of God. The Ramban asked why it was necessary to forbid appointing a non-Jewish (or non-Davidic) king. The Navi certainly would not appoint such a person. Perhaps the Rambam only felt that it was preferable for the Navi to appoint the king. However, if there were no Navi, the king could be appointed by the people. They were therefore instructed not to appoint a “foreigner”.

This approach could lead to a discussion if there were no Navi and the general populace elected a leader, what is his status? Could he be considered a king (temporarily at least, since he is not of the Davidic line) at all? Would the laws (or at least some of them) apply to him at all? While this issue is beyond the scope of this article, the interested reader may see Radvaz (Hilkhot Melakhim), Rav Kook’s Mishpat Kohen, R’ Federbush’s Mishpat Hamelukha B’yisrael, as well as more modern articles in various Israeli journals.

Another answer to the question of the Ramban could be suggested if we follow the reasoning of R’ Nechemia, R’ Nehorai, or the Abarbanel’s interpretation of the Rambam. There really is no mitzva at all to appoint a king. However, if there is a popular request for a king, the Torah told us that we could (or should) appoint one. However, the Torah forbade us from appointing a non-Jewish king. This may mean that if the community asks for a foreign monarch, we need (should) not acquiesce to their wish. While it is unthinkable that a Navi would appoint a foreigner, it certainly is possible that the community could request such a personage, and the Navi would not then have to appoint anyone.

It is interesting to note that a king is appointed. The Vilna Gaon pointed out that a melekh is appointed, but a moshel (dictator) is self-appointed. When Yosef related his dreams to his brothers, they asked him, “Do you plan to be a melech; do you think you will be a moshel?” Ibn Ezra commented that the question is not redundant. They firstly rejected any suggestion that they would appoint him. They then added that he should not think that he would rule by force.

God is a melekh to the Jews, who accept His kingdom. However, He is only a moshel to non-Jews. We anticipate and pray for the day that God’s kingdom will be accepted by all mankind. Then God will truly be one and His name will be one. (Daily prayer after Az Yashir.)

A King in Israel

A King in Israel

by

Israel is a Jewish state but has not succeeded in defining just what that means in a national constitution. Although the 1948 Declaration of Independence called for the enactment of a constitution within months of the state’s inception, nothing has been achieved beyond a fragmentary “Basic Law.” Israel finds itself in the uncomfortable position of fighting for its status as a Jewish state without a clear vision of what that entails.

There appears to be an unbridgeable gap between three millennia of Jewish religious thought and the exigencies of modern governance. Yet Judaism’s defining concept, the covenant, is inherently political, and a proper understanding of biblical and rabbinic theology might identify a solution to Israel’s constitutional vacuum.

To discuss theological criteria for the constitution of a secular republic runs against the grain of modern political thought, even though constitutional restrictions on popular sovereignty imply reliance on an authority that is greater than human. In a republic the people are sovereign, yet the purpose of a constitution is precisely to restrict the power of any future majority. If popular sovereignty is absolute, what right has a constitution to frustrate a future majority by, for example, imposing some form of supermajority? In the extreme case, suppose a majority of the delegates to a constitutional convention enacts a constitution that forbids any change forever, or requires a 98 percent majority of the future legislature to enact any constitutional change.

This is no different in principle from the two-thirds supermajority that the United States requires for constitutional amendments. The only basis for a polity to accept severe restrictions on popular majority rule is the conviction that the founding constitution derives its power from a higher form of sovereignty than the voters in any given legislative session. Without such a theological foundation, a republic cannot feel bound by the rules laid down by its founders. A purely secular republic would self-destruct because it could not protect its constitution from constant amendment.

To propose a constitution, in other words, is to ask the question: What form of sovereignty is higher than that of the present voters? America’s Founders appealed to “nature and nature’s God.” Judaism has an answer to this question, elaborated in the oral and written Torah—however remote they appear, at first consideration, from the practical requirements of the state of Israel.

Judaism is founded on a covenant between God and Israel. Instead of unilaterally imposing his will on Israel, God enters into a relation of mutual obligations with a people. This relation is, in content, not only religious but political and legal, and it is understood in this fashion in the Bible and rabbinic literature, where God is called “the King of all Kings” perhaps more often than by any other appellation.

God, moreover, exercises his kingship through proxies. There are three religious institutions and persons in the biblical polity who are divinely sanctioned: the king, the prophet, and the high priest. But of these three offices, only the term king is routinely applied to human beings as well as to God. This is noteworthy because, of the three, the prophet and high priest hold religious functions while the office of king is largely secular. In the presence of a human king, the following blessing is recited: “Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the Universe, Who has given of His glory to flesh and blood.” A human king thus participates in the glory of God. To see a human king is, in a sense, to see a proxy for God.

A world without God is a world in which nothing is hereditary but all glory is temporary and republican, elected for a period of time on the strength of the policy agreements of the day. God’s election of Israel—which is, in a sense, a royal election—is based on none of these fleeting considerations but is as permanent as the throne of David, the most permanent of all the earthly thrones sanctioned by God. It is probably for this reason that monarchy is so repugnant to secularists. Jewish sovereignty existed in full measure only during the rule of the kings of ancient Israel. Saul was chosen by God in response to the demand addressed by the people to Samuel to “appoint for us a king to govern us, like other nations.” This is a request that did not please God, who informed Samuel that “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” Only after Samuel has outlined all the disadvantages of rule by a human king, and the people persist in demanding a king, does God reluctantly instruct Samuel to anoint a human king.

From the way Israel’s monarchy was founded we can infer several things. First, human monarchy is not God’s first choice for the governance of Israel. His first choice is the Kingship of God, who, because he does not speak to the people directly, uses a prophet to transmit the word of God to the people. In this form of rule, exemplified by Moses’ rule over Israel, God employs the prophet to communicate not only generalities to the people but also concrete legal judgments, for example the request of the daughters of Zelophehad (Num. 27:1-11) for a portion of the inheritance in the absence of direct male heirs. Moses presents the case to God, who rules that the daughters are to inherit on the same footing as their father’s brothers.

A more concrete form of divine monarchical rule can hardly be imagined. While direct divine rule did not last very long, the fact that the First Book of Samuel explicitly raises the option serves, among other things, to refute the view that with the giving of the Torah, direct divine intervention is no longer possible or desirable. Whatever subsequent forms of rule are depicted in the Bible, nothing can match direct divine rule, which rules out the possibility of error.

This form of government can be termed Mosaic kingship: a form of monarchy in which God himself is the monarch who speaks through the prophet. The Mosaic monarch thus combines in himself two characteristics, that, in a way, are contradictory. On the one hand, Moses is the greatest prophet Israel has known because he speaks with God “face to face.” On the other hand, this proximity to God diminishes Moses’ personal authority because, when in doubt, he consults God and receives a direct answer. Moses, it seems, does not need to acquire the art of legal reasoning. His questions are answered by the Holy One. This may explain why Moses is not generally referred to as a king. Although he acts as a sovereign, God is the sovereign king and Moses, his spokesman.

The title of king is thus not an honorific for God, as if the title of God were insufficient. God is called king because he actually is the king, the ruler from whom all decisions emanate and whom human kings imperfectly resemble. The blessing of God “who has given of his glory to flesh and blood” encapsulates biblical and rabbinic political thinking: The human king is created in the image of the divine king—a statement we would not dare to make did it not mirror the statement that human beings were created in the image of God.

The advantages of monarchy over a republican form of government can be debated at length. Since the French Revolution, monarchies have been on the wane and republics, on the rise. The reasons are many, but the secularization of the modern world must be one of them because the institution of monarchy is deeply tied to its religious roots, and the authority of the king is not derived from the governed. This is perhaps the aspect of monarchy that most offends the secular mind, for which nothing is more self-evident than the thesis that, ultimately, the people are sovereign, and rulers derive their legitimacy from those they rule. But this is not how Judaism understands the matter. God, not the people, is sovereign. Rulers are chosen by God, and it is only to God and his Torah that they are responsible.

In classical Jewish thought, the question was how to establish the closest possible approximation to God’s kingship. From the beginning of kingship in Israel, there was a deep ambivalence about monarchy. But the fact that a human king is accepted and serves as a substitute for the divine monarch bestows on the human king a political and religious weight that no democratically elected politician can ever achieve.

There is no question that Jewish tradition favors monarchy, and Jewish religious authorities, prominently including Maimonides, consistently argue that the appointment of a king, in the line of David, is obligatory. (For the same reason, the New Testament traces Jesus’ descent to David.) Jewish political thought seeks the political arrangement that most closely approximates the kingship of God, and, absent a ruler from the House of David, monarchy becomes a contingent affair—which is why Jewish religious authorities in antiquity rejected Jewish monarchies, such as the Hasmoneans, not founded on the House of David.

Of course, the question today is whether it is possible to reconcile the modern concept of a state with a religious concept of legitimacy more than three millennia old. I believe that it is indeed possible, and that such a reconciliation offers a practical solution to the longstanding constitutional dilemma of the state of Israel.

Israel must reconcile the requirements of its secular citizens, who wish to live in a modern parliamentary republic, and its religious citizens, who insist that religious and legal tradition must inform the Jewish state. The danger in secular rule is that modern Israel will fail to present itself unambiguously as a Jewish state and eventually lose the battle to remain a Jewish state. But the form of religious governance favored by the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) segment of the Israeli public would put an end to Israel’s republican character. I suspect that the ultra-Orthodox would prefer a state governed by a self-appointed body of Torah scholars, similar to the Council of Torah Sages (Moezes Gedolei Hatorah) of Agudath Israel, the Haredi quasi-political organization.

There never has been a moment in Jewish history, though, when the sovereign Jewish people were ruled by rabbinic scholars. Whether in the Babylonian exile or in medieval Europe, rabbis played an important role in guiding the lives of Jews, but this was always in the context of Jewish subordination to non-Jewish rulers. Jewish sovereignty existed in full measure only with the rule of Jewish kings.

The crowning of an actual Davidic monarch today would require prophecy to select the proper person. In the absence of prophecy, this is impossible—and the sages of Israel declared almost two thousand years ago that prophecy was gone from Israel. Israel nonetheless can be declared a Davidic monarchy without a reigning king. This action would build into the self-understanding of the state of Israel the messianic hope of the Jewish people, while excluding a messianic interpretation of the present state of Israel.

The solution that I propose is by no means unusual for a constitutional monarchy. It is a common occurrence in monarchy that no king is present or that the present king cannot rule, for example, due to youth. In such situations, a regent is appointed as a placeholder for a king. Such a placeholder can either be appointed or elected. A regent safeguarding the Throne of David until such time that divine intervention identifies the rightful heir to the Davidic kingdom would thus assume the functions now performed by Israel’s president, the symbolic head of state.

It would be quite possible for Israel’s parliament to elect the regent who safeguards the throne just as it now elects Israel’s president. None of the other mechanisms of parliamentary democracy in Israel would need to change. What is important is not the specific mechanism by which the Israeli polity might choose a regent, but, rather, for Israel to understand itself as a monarchy, albeit one without a reigning king.

This would acknowledge God’s will that Israel be ruled by the House of David, and it would define the Jewish character of the Israeli state. If we concede that any constitutional constraints on popular sovereignty derive from an authority higher than the people, we must conclude that a constitution uniquely suited to a Jewish state should embody the political form through which this higher authority has been manifest in the Jewish concept of polity for the past three thousand years. To be a constitutionally Jewish state, Israel must understand itself as a monarchy temporarily without a king.

Such a constitutional monarchy is quite as compatible with modern parliamentary democracy as are the monarchies of Holland and England. But there would remain a fundamental difference between Israel and the European monarchies, which exist as a matter of historical happenstance. For Israel to establish its claim to be a Jewish state—the core issue of contention between Israel and many of its Muslim neighbors—it must do so in the unique way specified by the Bible and the undivided view of Jewish tradition.

Collateral benefits might ensue from such a declaration. For example, the fact that several Arab countries are monarchies (including Israel’s eastern neighbor) raises the prospect that a Davidic monarchy in Israel might elicit a certain degree of respect. The symbolic importance of acknowledging the House of David as Israel’s rightful ruler, moreover, would be a source of inspiration to many Christians who are favorably disposed towards the Jewish state.

The possible practical benefits, though, are incidental to the purpose of giving expression to the deep Jewish longing for Davidic restoration, expressed so frequently and with such deep emotion in the daily liturgy that Jews have recited for thousands of years, in which we beseech God to see a descendant of David on the throne of Israel.

Michael Wyschogrod was professor emeritus of philosophy at Baruch College of the City University of New York and the author of The Body of Faith .

Abdication, Schizophrenia and the Hashemites

ABDICATION and Schizophrenia Run in the Family:

Talal bin Abdullah (Arabic: طلال بن عبد الله‎, Ṭalāl ibn ʿAbdullāh; 26 February 1909 – 7 July 1972) was King of Jordan from the assassination of his father, King Abdullah I, on 20 July 1951, until he was forced to abdicate by Parliament on 11 August 1952. He ruled for less than thirteen months until he was forced to abdicate due to mental illness—reported as schizophrenia. Talal spent the rest of his life at a sanatorium in Istanbul and died there on 7 July 1972.

Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi (Arabic: الحسين بن علي الهاشمي‎, al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī al-Hāshimī; 1853/1854 – 4 June 1931) was a Hashemite Arab leader who was the Sharif and Emir of Mecca from 1908 and, after proclaiming the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, King of the Hejaz from 1916 to 1924. In March 1924, when the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished, Hussein proclaimed himself Caliph of all Muslims. In October 1924, facing defeat by Ibn Saud, he abdicated and was succeeded as king by his eldest son Ali.

****

Caliph of all Muslims? Delusional Grandiose Schizophrenia I’d say!

Jericho Conference

Whoever espouses the idea that the “Palestinians” have been denied the right of self-determination IGNORES the historical facts:

Jericho Conference

 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

A Palestinian delegation from the Jericho Conference presenting King Abdullah with the conference resolution for unity of the West Bank with Jordan under the Hashemite crown

The Jericho Conference was held in December 1948 to decide the future of the portion of Palestine that was held by Jordan at the end of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, led by Sheikh Muhammad Ali Ja’abari.[1] Pro-Jordanian personalities called for the annexation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to Jordan.[2] This unification was later known as the “Unification of the Two Banks” (the eastern and western banks of the Jordan River.)[citation needed]

Contents

History

In October 1948, King Abdullah began a series of steps in order to effect the annexation of those parts of Palestine that his army and other Arab forces had captured and held during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He did this while the cease-fire line was settled or agreed in February 1949.[citation needed]

The first step was a congress session in Amman, convened upon the initiative of the Transjordanian government, in which King Abdullah’s representatives and a large number of Palestinian refugees called for a wider Palestinian congress to declare Palestinian unity and acknowledge King Abdullah as King of Palestine. On 1 December 1948, a conference in Jericho called for the annexation of what was left of Palestine under the Hashemite crown in light of the reality that the remaining Palestinian territory was effectively administered by the Jordanian authority. The Conference was attended by numerous delegations including the mayors of Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, the Arab Legion Military Governor General, military governors of all the districts, and other notables. The audience was estimated at several thousand.[3]

Six resolutions were proposed but only four were adopted. They contained the following provisions:
1. Palestine Arabs desire unity between Transjordan and Arab Palestine and therefore make known their wish that Arab Palestine be annexed immediately to Transjordan. They also recognize Abdullah as their King and request him proclaim himself King of new territory.
2. Palestine Arabs express gratitude to Arab states for their efforts in behalf of liberation of Palestine. (The delegates indicated that the object of this was to hint to the Arab states that their job was done).
3. Expression of thanks to Arab states for their generous assistance and support to Palestine Arab refugees.
4. Resolve that purport of first resolution be conveyed to King at once.[3]

The Transjordanian cabinet and parliament agreed within the following two weeks.[4]

Reactions to the resolution

Support

A Palestinian conference in Ramallah personally attended by King Abdullah on 26 December 1948 declared its support for the Jericho Conference resolution, as did a subsequent Nablus conference, calling for unification of the two banks of the Jordan under the Hashemite crown.

The termination of the Palestine Mandate gave the Arabs of Palestine the opportunity to exercise their right to self-determination. That meant they could determine their own political status and form or dissolve unions among themselves or with other states.

In December 1948 the Secretary of State authorized the US Consul in Amman to advise King Abdullah and the officials of Transjordan that the US accepted the principles contained in the resolutions of the Jericho Conference, and that the US viewed incorporation with Transjordan as the logical disposition of Arab Palestine.[5] The United States subsequently extended de jure recognition to the Government of Transjordan and the Government of Israel on the same day, 31 January 1949.[6] The 1950 State Department Country Report on Jordan said that King Abdullah had taken successive steps to incorporate the area of Central Palestine into Jordan and described the Jordanian Parliament resolution concerning the union of Central Palestine with Jordan. The report said the US had privately advised the British and French Foreign Ministers that it had approved the action, and that “it represented a logical development of the situation which took place as a result of a free expression of the will of the people.”[7] The major problems of concern to the United States were the establishment of peaceful and friendly relations between Israel and Jordan and the successful absorption into the polity and economy of Jordan of Arab Palestine, its inhabitants, and the bulk of the refugees now located there.[8]

Opposition

The Arab League condemned the Jericho Conference, and the Syrian press considered its resolution a violation of self-determination. Iraqi prime minister Nuri as-Said called upon King Abdullah to hold his moves towards annexation which succeeded in delaying the implementation of the Transjordanian plans of unity for a year and a half. Hajj Amin al-Husseini protested against King Abdullah’s measures, declaring them null and void and calling to boycott them, but his voice was ignored.

Unification

Notables from Ramallah and Jerusalem in particular were reluctant to give King Abdullah a carte blanche. Although they were prepared to recognize him as monarch, they were unwilling to give up their claim to the whole of Palestine, and refused to endorse his policy of consolidating the partition.[9]

The Transjordanian government gradually assumed the civil functions of the West Bank, paying the salaries of civil servants and absorbing local governors into what was henceforth called the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In February 1949, the Jordanian Nationality Law was amended to grant every Palestinian Jordanian citizenship.

1 Sheikh Mohammed Ali Ja’abari Archived 2008-05-05 at the Wayback Machine.

2 Palestinian Contemporary Political Performance: A Bitter Harvest, Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol 15 No. 1&2, 2008

3 FRUS, US State Department Report

4 NAKBA, The Process of Palestinian Dispossession, Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs

5 Foreign relations of the United States, 1948. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa Volume V, Part 2, Page 1706

6 Foreign relations of the United States, 1949. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa Volume VI, Page 713

7 Foreign relations of the United States, 1950. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa Volume V, Page 1096

8 Foreign relations of the United States, 1950. The Near East, South Asia, and Africa Volume V, Page 1095

9 A History of Jordan. Philip Robins, Cambridge University Press, 2004. Page 72

Podcast: Meir Soloveichik on King David

Podcast: Meir Soloveichik on King David

In 2010, the theologian Michael Wyschograd published “A King in Israel,” a provocative essay in which he argues for defining the Jewish State as a democratic, constitutional monarchy. Wyschograd proposes that, without changing anything about the functioning of the Israeli government, the president of the state be given the title, “Regent of the Throne of David”—reconstituting the third Jewish commonwealth as a Davidic monarchy without a reigning king.

This idea may seem fantastical, and it was given very little attention at the time. But in this podcast, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik joins Tikvah Executive Director Eric Cohen to explore the theology behind Wyschograd’s argument, precedents from modern constitutional history, and the political ramifications of monarchy. Using Soloveichik’s essay on “King David” as a starting point, Cohen and Soloveichik explore Judaism’s complex approach to kingship, the meaning of the Davidic dynasty, and the spiritual power that resides in a properly constituted Jewish polity.

Courtesy of Pro Musica Hebraica, musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim, and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

King David

First Things

By Rabbi

In a provocative and profound essay in this magazine (“A King in Israel,” May 2010), the late Michael Wyschogrod proposed that the Jewish state define itself as a democratic, constitutional monarchy. Israel, Wyschogrod suggested, should rename its head of state—the president elected by its legislature, who already plays a largely ceremonial role—and give him or her the title “Regent of the Throne of David.” This would not, he wrote, involve changing anything about the Knesset and other aspects of the political process. Without redefining its democratic nature, “Israel nonetheless can be declared a Davidic monarchy without a reigning king.” This symbolic action, Wyschogrod argued, “would build into the self-understanding of the state of Israel the messianic hope of the Jewish people, while excluding a messianic interpretation of the present state of Israel.”

The proposal was given very little attention by Jewish thinkers, and even less by Jewish politicians. Yet the essay, for admirers of this great theologian, is classic Wyschogrod. It puts forward a provocative statement, expressed in a way that may attract few allies, that nevertheless forces us to reflect on a profound, and often ignored, theological truth. In this case, the truth is that many religious Jews simultaneously celebrate the existence of a Jewish republic while praying three times a day for the advent of a messianic era featuring a restored Davidic monarchy.

We seldom reflect on the dialectical nature of this theological posture. If religious Jews believe that Israel should be both democratic and Jewish, Wyschogrod writes, “we must conclude that a constitution uniquely suited to a Jewish state should embody the political form through which this higher authority has been manifest in the Jewish concept of polity for the past three thousand years,” which means a monarchy of the line of David. Here we see the tension. “The deep Jewish longing for Davidic restoration, expressed so frequently and with such deep emotion in the daily liturgy that Jews have recited for thousands of years, in which we beseech God to see a descendant of David on the throne of Israel,” shapes the political imagination of religious Jews. The state of Israel, however, has no civic or political dimension that reflects that yearning, and this clashes with a religious Jew’s pride in the accomplishments of the Jewish people in founding their own state, as well as his proper sense that the state of Israel plays a central role in the future of the Jewish people. Hence the genius of Wyschogrod’s proposal: To be a constitutionally Jewish state, “Israel must understand itself as a monarchy temporarily without a king.” With the office of “Regent of the Throne of David,” one of the civic symbols of a Jewish state would embody the millennia-long yearning that has animated Jewish prayer.

Wyschogrod’s provocative proposal may be unrealistic. That should not prevent us from engaging his philosophical point. Any seriously Jewish political philosophy must consider the place of the House of David when reflecting on what it means for Jews to exercise sovereignty as a people.

Since the Mishnaic era, the first centuries of the Common Era, Jewish political thinking has had to grapple with a seeming contradiction in biblical texts. The resulting rabbinic debate has had enormous influence on the ultimate direction of modern democratic thought. Deuteronomy, the most political text in the Torah, seems to anticipate, and even approve of, the crowning of a king, as long as he is an Israelite: “When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee.”

Nevertheless, when the Bible later recounts this historical moment in which the people seek a king, the connotations are negative. After the period of the judges, Israel ultimately asks the prophet Samuel to establish a monarchy (“Give us a king to judge us”). The request “displeased Samuel.” God, in turn, informs Samuel that “they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” The question is therefore obvious: Is the appointment of a king encouraged, or is it not?

The matter is debated in Tractate Sanhedrin:

R. Judah said: Three commandments were given to Israel when they entered the land: [i] to appoint a king, [ii] to cut off the seed of Amalek, and [iii] to build themselves the chosen house. . . . While R. Nehorai said: This section [in Deuteronomy regarding the appointment of a king] was spoken only in anticipation of their future murmurings, as it is written, And shalt say, I will set a king over me etc.

In this exchange, Rabbi Judah seems to embrace the system of monarchy, while Rabbi Nehorai rejects it. Yet the latter’s reason for regarding monarchy as morally problematic is not made clear. In Devarim Rabbah, however, the Midrash identifies monarchy with the supreme sin:

God said to Israel: My Children, it was My intention that you be free of kings . . . but you sought differently. . . . I therefore said, since you will in the end ask for a king for flesh and blood, from [Israel] shall they rule and not a foreigner. . . . Rabbi Simon said: All who trust in God will be like Him. How do we know? For it is written, “blessed is the man who trusts in God” . . . and all who trust in idols will end up like them.

The implication is that the appointment of a king is akin to idolatry; it is a form of honoring and placing one’s trust in someone who is not God. It is for this reason, according to the rabbis, that God saw the Israelites’ request for a king as equivalent to a rejection of the divine.

This midrashic interpretation may seem simply a matter of intra-Jewish debate, but one can make the case that it changed the world as we know it. Eric Nelson’s recent book The Hebrew Republic makes the remarkable and convincing case that seventeenth-century European political thinkers were deeply engaged by Jewish texts. This, he notes, runs counter to our standard assumptions, as it is often held that modernity’s achievements were made through a progressive secularization. The truth, Nelson shows, is exactly the opposite. Renaissance humanism, “structured as it was by the pagan inheritance of Greek and Roman antiquity, generated an approach to politics that was remarkably secular.” Yet, in the seventeenth century, during the ongoing fervor of the Reformation, “Christians began to regard the Hebrew Bible as a political constitution, designed by God himself for the children of Israel. They also came to see the full array of newly available rabbinical texts as authoritative guides to the institutions and practices of this perfect republic.” Nelson goes on to argue that the political achievements associated with modernity—including democracy and religious toleration—reflect a “political Hebraism,” an outlook on civic life that used rabbinic sources to bring European ideas about the polity into better conformity with biblical sources.

In the debate over the execution of Charles I, Milton cited rabbinic texts in Pro populo Anglicano defensio to make his case against monarchy, utilizing the argument from Devarim Rabbah.

God indeed gives evidence of his great displeasure at their request for a king—thus in [1 Samuel 8] verse 7: “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me.” The meaning is that it is a form of idolatry to ask for a king, who demands that he be worshipped and granted honors like those of a god. Indeed he who sets an earthly master over him and above all the laws is near a strange god for himself, one seldom reasonable, usually a brute beast who has scattered reason to the winds.

Milton further notes that the Bible “imputed it a sin” that the Israelites sought a king, explaining that the sin lay in the fact that “a king must be adored like a Demigod” by his subjects who are “on either side deifying and adoring him.”

The argument was echoed a century later by Thomas Paine in a passage that he acknowledged was lifted from Milton and inserted into Common Sense, one of the most influential polemical pamphlets in American history:

Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honours to their deceased kings, and the Christian World hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred Majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust! As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon, and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by Kings. . . . And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honour, should disapprove a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of Heaven.

Paine’s argument is first and foremost a religious argument, one we can trace back to the rabbis.

Wyschogrod, in his aforementioned essay, claims that a rejection of monarchy is inherently secular. “A world without God is a world in which nothing is hereditary but all glory is temporary and republican,” he observes. “God’s election of Israel—which is, in a sense, a royal election—is based on none of these fleeting considerations but is as permanent as the throne of David, the most permanent of all the earthly thrones sanctioned by God. It is probably for this reason that monarchy is so repugnant to secularists.” As we have seen, however, opposition to monarchy need not be secular. Influential aspects of the Jewish tradition regard sovereignty without a king as preferable, because it allows a people to be ruled by God alone. At the same time, it is undeniable that the rabbinic tradition, and especially its liturgy, embraces David’s kingship as essential to Jewish thinking about history, politics, and nationality. Thus the question must be asked: If a significant strand of Talmudic theology, one that exercised an important influence on modern political thought, worries that monarchy has the potential for idolatry, how are we, as modern Jews, to understand the significance of the Davidic dynasty for Jewish theology?

Deuteronomy can be viewed as the constitution of ancient Israel. Yet its concerns are as theological as they are political; indeed, perhaps its central concern is the worry lest the political and social be promoted at the expense of the theological. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has noted, if there is one consistent message in Deuteronomy, it is a warning: “When you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase, when all you have is multiplied—it is then you must beware lest your heart becomes proud and you forget God your Lord who brought you out of Egypt and the land of slavery.” In verses such as these throughout Deuteronomy, Sacks writes, Moses gives voice to the most counterintuitive message imaginable: “The greatest challenge is not slavery but freedom; not poverty but affluence; not danger but security; not homelessness but home. The paradox is that when we have most to thank G-d for, that is when we are in greatest danger of not thanking—nor even thinking of—G-d at all.” If the Jewish political tradition’s concern regarding monarchy is the danger of worshipping the non-divine, its concern is part of a larger worry that we are tempted to worship the self.

It is with this in mind that God’s election of David is to be understood. If David is chosen, it is because throughout his career he sees and cites God as the source of his success, as well as the success of the state he rules. He embodies the importance of Jewish power, of military might, and at the same time ascribes all triumph, all success, all glory to God. We see this combination already in David’s first great triumph against the gargantuan Goliath, before he becomes the warrior king of Israel who awed all his enemies. He is at this point but a stripling, and a shepherd boy at that, spoiling for a fight. When Saul voices skepticism, David replies in defiance that he has bested many a mighty adversary on the field of battle: “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock . . . thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them.” He appears, superficially, to embody arrogance, confidence, and braggadocio. Yet David says more, allowing us to understand that in fact, his entire approach to victory is different: “The God who saved me from the lion and the bear, He will save me from the Philistine.” David draws confidence not only from his own abilities but also from his faith, declaring to Goliath: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.”

For this reason David, and only David, is chosen as the eternal ancestor of the Israelite monarchy. If the danger of monarchy is potential idolatry—and if the central social concern of Deuteronomy is the idolization of the self—then David as king, statesman, and political leader is the antidote. Several of the recent books about David, including Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, have argued that David’s victory against Goliath was the result of brilliant strategy and the choice of a weapon that is quite powerful and deadly. His victory was, therefore, not merely miraculous. This may well be true, but to stress this is to miss the full meaning of the episode. What is remarkable is that David is grateful to God even when he could have given all credit to himself. David is not Moses, who disrupts the laws of nature in his daily life. The miracle in David’s life is that he ascribes his achievements to God when the temptation to do otherwise is enormous. He is the man who refuses to allow society to idolize him, and thereby reminds society not to idolize itself.

While this central feature of David’s character is made manifest in the book of Samuel, it is even more evident in the Psalms. Thomas Cahill has noted that the Psalms are a “treasure trove of personal emotions and a unique early roadmap to the inner spirit.” While the historian must normally “guess at the emotions of his subjects from incomplete or indirect evidence, David’s Psalms reassure us that three thousand years ago people laughed and cried just as we do, bled and cursed, danced and leapt—that our whole repertoire of emotions was theirs.” This is exactly right, but to this description one more point must be added: Every one of the Psalms, poetry and prayer that run the gamut of the human spirit, is addressed and dedicated to God. David composes Psalms to God when he defeats his enemies and when he is fleeing from them, when he is studying the Torah and when he has sinned, when his kingship is teetering and when it is secure. There is no part of his life, no part of his failures and his achievements, in which God does not have a role. This is Deuteronomy’s ideal. And that is why, for all his failings, the political and civic society of the nation of Israel must always be linked to David and his legacy. There can be no Jewish state that does not have a role for God.

David’s unique role helps us understand his dream of building a temple, and why that dream was denied. According to Chronicles, David went so far as to put together the blueprints for what would ultimately be known as the “Temple of Solomon.” This is a biblical instance of a dream deferred and denied. David was informed by the Almighty that not he but his son would construct the house of God in Jerusalem. Before his death, charging his son to bring his dream of a temple to fruition, David explained why God would not allow him to do the one act that he desired more than any other:

He called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house for the Lord God of Israel. And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God: But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for my name.

Rather than building a temple as a reward for his military career, God tells David that he cannot, and cannot precisely because of his military career. What are we to make of God’s refusal to grant David his wish to build the Temple? Is Israel not grateful for David’s valor? Were the people of God not saved again and again because of the Goliaths slain by this warrior of Israel?

The Hebrew Bible never puts forward a pacifist ideal, recognizing again and again that the existence of evil, and of Israel’s enemies, can require a firm, steely response. If the bloodiness of David’s leadership should not be seen as a moral failing, why, then, was David denied his dream?

Martin Goodman’s study of the contrast between Jewish and Roman culture, Rome and Jerusalem, provides helpful insight. He notes that Jews, like Romans, recognized the reality of war and its necessity. At the same time, Jews have been careful never to idealize warfare and have avoided glorifications of military might as an end in itself. “Jews as much as Romans viewed war as a natural condition but, unlike Romans, they sometimes expressed a hope that this might change.” Despite all the violent exhortations in the Hebrew Bible, “the biblical prophets Isaiah, Micah and Joel all looked forward with longing to a time when there would be no more war at all.” Thus the famous words of Isaiah’s eschatological vision: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Although exaltations of military might have their place in the Jewish tradition, that has never been an end in itself. This, notes Goodman, was one of the greatest differences between Jews and Romans. “This notion of permanent peace, shalom, and an end to war, espoused by Isaiah was quite different from the Roman notion of pax, which constituted little more than a pause to take stock between victorious and glorious campaigns.”

Thus the logic of God’s refusal of David’s desire. Had he concluded his career by building what would inevitably have been seen as a monument to his might—had Israel’s greatest warrior built a Temple “of exceeding magnificence, of fame and of glory throughout all countries”—the Israelites would have been tempted to see David’s lifetime endeavors of war and bloodshed as achievements to glorify and events to celebrate on a par with their worship of the divine. Thus David’s dream was denied lest Judea become Rome, and David become Vespasian, who constructed a colosseum as an eternal testament to his own conquests. God’s Temple in Jerusalem would be built by Solomon. This clarifies the ultimate purpose of all of David’s efforts, including his military triumphs: “For from Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” David could not build the Temple, for in so doing he would create a symbolic equivalence between his own glorious victories and God’s greater purpose for the entire world. Thus, God’s final frustration of David’s ambition reinforces rather than diminishes his greatness, for it lies in the fact that the figure of David reminds Israel that, ultimately, all success flows from God.

Politics, in Judaism, is important, but it is a means to an end; only our relationship with God is an end in itself. The Temple in Jerusalem embodied this central truth. The Cambridge historian Simon Goldhill, in this vein, offers the following remarkable reflection on Pompey, the Roman general who conquered Jerusalem in 63 b.c., after a three-month siege.

Pompey walked straight in, we are told, to see what he no doubt expected to be a glorious statue to match the significance of the Temple for the Jewish people. Romans regularly took cult statues of other cultures and transported them back to Rome in triumphant appropriation. He was amazed to find nothing there and remained baffled by the whole experience. This story is told by Tacitus, the Roman historian, but it is retold by the Jews. History is not always controlled by the victors. The contrast of the emptiness of the shrine and the practical man of war’s confusion is eloquent—and for once allows the non-material its moment of assertion over the powerful realities of war and conquest.

David died without a monumental structure to glorify his reign, and just such an absence makes his political and spiritual triumphs more visible to biblical readers.

While killing Goliath was an impressive feat, there is no question that David’s greatest military victory was the conquest of Jerusalem, the Jebusite city that Israel had failed to capture in all the centuries following Joshua. After making Jerusalem his capital, the Bible informs us that David constructed a palace for himself. Yet archaeologists searched in vain in the original Jebusite Jerusalem for the remains of such a structure. It was the archaeologist Eilat Mazar who first suggested, using the Bible as a source of evidence, that the palace would have been built just beyond the original walls of Jerusalem, further up the mountain on which the city was located. Digging in the predicted location, she uncovered a massive and impressive structure. The nature of her find continues to be debated today, but the theological question remains noteworthy: Why would David have built his palace outside the city walls, rather than within?

The answer, perhaps, as Mazar herself suggests, lies in David’s dream: to build not merely a house for himself, but one for God, a temple that would ultimately crown the summit of the mountain, standing higher than his palace and his city. Interestingly, for the Jewish sages, the name “Yerushalayim” is a combination of “Shalem,” the political entity that was conquered by David, and Yirah, which means awe, reverence, a word that refers not to the Jebusite city but rather to the place where Abraham bound his son, and where the Temple was destined to be built.

The meaning of this midrash, perhaps, is that Jerusalem is meant to be both the capital of Judaism and Judea, and that one precedes the other; yirah precedes shalem, faith takes precedence over politics. Following this line of thinking, building a palace beyond the city walls may have served to point to Jerusalem’s ultimate expansion to include the center of Israel’s faith. David, then, intended his palace to be, for his subjects, the conceptual bridge between Jerusalem’s political successes and its sanctity, between Jerusalem as it was and Jerusalem as it was meant to be. Though his capital embodied his military success, there are achievements higher than that. That which was to be highest, geographically as well as religiously, was not the nation as a political entity, but the nation of Israel in relationship with God.

David’s legacy—biblical, Talmudic, and archaeological—challenges us to reflect on how Jews can create a society that can celebrate its successes but not idolize itself. David challenges us to envision a double project: sustaining a functioning, prosperous polity that points beyond its worldly achievements to God’s higher purposes.

A wide variety of Israelis, deep down, struggle with this question. The most famous and beloved photograph in Israel is not that of Ben Gurion’s declaration of the state, Menachem Begin’s peace agreement with Anwar Sadat, or the raising of the flag over the newly conquered Eilat in the War of Independence. Israel’s most enduring image is David Rubinger’s arresting photograph of three simple soldiers at the Western Wall, gazing with reverence into the distance. The Six Day War was itself a David and Goliath story, and what makes the picture so memorable is that, like David, the soldiers seem to be celebrating more than themselves. As Yossi Klein Halevi puts it, “The image endures, in part, because of the humility it conveys: At their moment of triumph, the conquerors are themselves conquered. The paratroopers, epitome of Zionism’s ‘new Jews,’ stand in gratitude before the Jewish past, suddenly realizing that they owe their existence to its persistence and longing.”

How can Israel be a vibrant democracy that celebrates its independence and even at times its power, while creating a civic structure that embodies the Jewish story and mission, which transcend the modern state? This is one of the most critical questions facing Israel today, and it must look to David’s life and his character for inspiration in seeking an adequate answer. At the same time, David’s example is important for countries throughout the West, especially now, with the advent of a resurgent nationalism.

On the one hand, the Jewish political tradition sees national identities as part of God’s plan. Even its eschatology, as the political philosopher Daniel Elazar writes, depicts “what properly may be termed a world confederation of God-fearing nations federated through their common acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty and dominion, with Jerusalem, where all go up to worship God, as its seat.” On the other hand, the Bible warns us lest nationalism—and our celebration of the state—become an end in itself: “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance. . . . All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.” In the seventeenth century, political thought inspired by the Hebrew Bible led to the political birth of the West as we know it today; perhaps political Hebraism can inspire the West again.

While few thinkers have embraced Michael Wyschogrod’s political proposal, they ought to recognize David as a central figure in any serious account of Jewish politics, statesmanship, and sovereignty. Perhaps in this respect, at least, Jewish philosophers and theologians—and those who recognize the importance of particular loyalties that are open to the transcendent—can embrace “the return of the king.”

Meir Y. Soloveichik is rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City and director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University.

A King in Israel

FIRST THINGS FIRST

by Michael Wyschogrod – May 2010

Israel is a Jewish state but has not succeeded in defining just what that means in a national constitution. Although the 1948 Declaration of Independence called for the enactment of a constitution within months of the state’s inception, nothing has been achieved beyond a fragmentary “Basic Law.” Israel finds itself in the uncomfortable position of fighting for its status as a Jewish state without a clear vision of what that entails.

There appears to be an unbridgeable gap between three millennia of Jewish religious thought and the exigencies of modern governance. Yet Judaism’s defining concept, the covenant, is inherently political, and a proper understanding of biblical and rabbinic theology might identify a solution to Israel’s constitutional vacuum.

To discuss theological criteria for the constitution of a secular republic runs against the grain of modern political thought, even though constitutional restrictions on popular sovereignty imply reliance on an authority that is greater than human. In a republic the people are sovereign, yet the purpose of a constitution is precisely to restrict the power of any future majority. If popular sovereignty is absolute, what right has a constitution to frustrate a future majority by, for example, imposing some form of supermajority? In the extreme case, suppose a majority of the delegates to a constitutional convention enacts a constitution that forbids any change forever, or requires a 98 percent majority of the future legislature to enact any constitutional change.

This is no different in principle from the two-thirds supermajority that the United States requires for constitutional amendments. The only basis for a polity to accept severe restrictions on popular majority rule is the conviction that the founding constitution derives its power from a higher form of sovereignty than the voters in any given legislative session. Without such a theological foundation, a republic cannot feel bound by the rules laid down by its founders. A purely secular republic would self-destruct because it could not protect its constitution from constant amendment.

To propose a constitution, in other words, is to ask the question: What form of sovereignty is higher than that of the present voters? America’s Founders appealed to “nature and nature’s God.” Judaism has an answer to this question, elaborated in the oral and written Torah—however remote they appear, at first consideration, from the practical requirements of the state of Israel.

Judaism is founded on a covenant between God and Israel. Instead of unilaterally imposing his will on Israel, God enters into a relation of mutual obligations with a people. This relation is, in content, not only religious but political and legal, and it is understood in this fashion in the Bible and rabbinic literature, where God is called “the King of all Kings” perhaps more often than by any other appellation.

God, moreover, exercises his kingship through proxies. There are three religious institutions and persons in the biblical polity who are divinely sanctioned: the king, the prophet, and the high priest. But of these three offices, only the term king is routinely applied to human beings as well as to God. This is noteworthy because, of the three, the prophet and high priest hold religious functions while the office of king is largely secular. In the presence of a human king, the following blessing is recited: “Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the Universe, Who has given of His glory to flesh and blood.” A human king thus participates in the glory of God. To see a human king is, in a sense, to see a proxy for God.

A world without God is a world in which nothing is hereditary but all glory is temporary and republican, elected for a period of time on the strength of the policy agreements of the day. God’s election of Israel—which is, in a sense, a royal election—is based on none of these fleeting considerations but is as permanent as the throne of David, the most permanent of all the earthly thrones sanctioned by God. It is probably for this reason that monarchy is so repugnant to secularists. Jewish sovereignty existed in full measure only during the rule of the kings of ancient Israel. Saul was chosen by God in response to the demand addressed by the people to Samuel to “appoint for us a king to govern us, like other nations.” This is a request that did not please God, who informed Samuel that “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” Only after Samuel has outlined all the disadvantages of rule by a human king, and the people persist in demanding a king, does God reluctantly instruct Samuel to anoint a human king.

From the way Israel’s monarchy was founded we can infer several things. First, human monarchy is not God’s first choice for the governance of Israel. His first choice is the Kingship of God, who, because he does not speak to the people directly, uses a prophet to transmit the word of God to the people. In this form of rule, exemplified by Moses’ rule over Israel, God employs the prophet to communicate not only generalities to the people but also concrete legal judgments, for example the request of the daughters of Zelophehad (Num. 27:1-11) for a portion of the inheritance in the absence of direct male heirs. Moses presents the case to God, who rules that the daughters are to inherit on the same footing as their father’s brothers.

A more concrete form of divine monarchical rule can hardly be imagined. While direct divine rule did not last very long, the fact that the First Book of Samuel explicitly raises the option serves, among other things, to refute the view that with the giving of the Torah, direct divine intervention is no longer possible or desirable. Whatever subsequent forms of rule are depicted in the Bible, nothing can match direct divine rule, which rules out the possibility of error.

This form of government can be termed Mosaic kingship: a form of monarchy in which God himself is the monarch who speaks through the prophet. The Mosaic monarch thus combines in himself two characteristics, that, in a way, are contradictory. On the one hand, Moses is the greatest prophet Israel has known because he speaks with God “face to face.” On the other hand, this proximity to God diminishes Moses’ personal authority because, when in doubt, he consults God and receives a direct answer. Moses, it seems, does not need to acquire the art of legal reasoning. His questions are answered by the Holy One. This may explain why Moses is not generally referred to as a king. Although he acts as a sovereign, God is the sovereign king and Moses, his spokesman.

The title of king is thus not an honorific for God, as if the title of God were insufficient. God is called king because he actually is the king, the ruler from whom all decisions emanate and whom human kings imperfectly resemble. The blessing of God “who has given of his glory to flesh and blood” encapsulates biblical and rabbinic political thinking: The human king is created in the image of the divine king—a statement we would not dare to make did it not mirror the statement that human beings were created in the image of God.

The advantages of monarchy over a republican form of government can be debated at length. Since the French Revolution, monarchies have been on the wane and republics, on the rise. The reasons are many, but the secularization of the modern world must be one of them because the institution of monarchy is deeply tied to its religious roots, and the authority of the king is not derived from the governed. This is perhaps the aspect of monarchy that most offends the secular mind, for which nothing is more self-evident than the thesis that, ultimately, the people are sovereign, and rulers derive their legitimacy from those they rule. But this is not how Judaism understands the matter. God, not the people, is sovereign. Rulers are chosen by God, and it is only to God and his Torah that they are responsible.

In classical Jewish thought, the question was how to establish the closest possible approximation to God’s kingship. From the beginning of kingship in Israel, there was a deep ambivalence about monarchy. But the fact that a human king is accepted and serves as a substitute for the divine monarch bestows on the human king a political and religious weight that no democratically elected politician can ever achieve.

There is no question that Jewish tradition favors monarchy, and Jewish religious authorities, prominently including Maimonides, consistently argue that the appointment of a king, in the line of David, is obligatory. (For the same reason, the New Testament traces Jesus’ descent to David.) Jewish political thought seeks the political arrangement that most closely approximates the kingship of God, and, absent a ruler from the House of David, monarchy becomes a contingent affair—which is why Jewish religious authorities in antiquity rejected Jewish monarchies, such as the Hasmoneans, not founded on the House of David.

Of course, the question today is whether it is possible to reconcile the modern concept of a state with a religious concept of legitimacy more than three millennia old. I believe that it is indeed possible, and that such a reconciliation offers a practical solution to the longstanding constitutional dilemma of the state of Israel.

Israel must reconcile the requirements of its secular citizens, who wish to live in a modern parliamentary republic, and its religious citizens, who insist that religious and legal tradition must inform the Jewish state. The danger in secular rule is that modern Israel will fail to present itself unambiguously as a Jewish state and eventually lose the battle to remain a Jewish state. But the form of religious governance favored by the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) segment of the Israeli public would put an end to Israel’s republican character. I suspect that the ultra-Orthodox would prefer a state governed by a self-appointed body of Torah scholars, similar to the Council of Torah Sages (Moezes Gedolei Hatorah) of Agudath Israel, the Haredi quasi-political organization.

There never has been a moment in Jewish history, though, when the sovereign Jewish people were ruled by rabbinic scholars. Whether in the Babylonian exile or in medieval Europe, rabbis played an important role in guiding the lives of Jews, but this was always in the context of Jewish subordination to non-Jewish rulers. Jewish sovereignty existed in full measure only with the rule of Jewish kings.

The crowning of an actual Davidic monarch today would require prophecy to select the proper person. In the absence of prophecy, this is impossible—and the sages of Israel declared almost two thousand years ago that prophecy was gone from Israel. Israel nonetheless can be declared a Davidic monarchy without a reigning king. This action would build into the self-understanding of the state of Israel the messianic hope of the Jewish people, while excluding a messianic interpretation of the present state of Israel.

The solution that I propose is by no means unusual for a constitutional monarchy. It is a common occurrence in monarchy that no king is present or that the present king cannot rule, for example, due to youth. In such situations, a regent is appointed as a placeholder for a king. Such a placeholder can either be appointed or elected. A regent safeguarding the Throne of David until such time that divine intervention identifies the rightful heir to the Davidic kingdom would thus assume the functions now performed by Israel’s president, the symbolic head of state.

It would be quite possible for Israel’s parliament to elect the regent who safeguards the throne just as it now elects Israel’s president. None of the other mechanisms of parliamentary democracy in Israel would need to change. What is important is not the specific mechanism by which the Israeli polity might choose a regent, but, rather, for Israel to understand itself as a monarchy, albeit one without a reigning king.

This would acknowledge God’s will that Israel be ruled by the House of David, and it would define the Jewish character of the Israeli state. If we concede that any constitutional constraints on popular sovereignty derive from an authority higher than the people, we must conclude that a constitution uniquely suited to a Jewish state should embody the political form through which this higher authority has been manifest in the Jewish concept of polity for the past three thousand years. To be a constitutionally Jewish state, Israel must understand itself as a monarchy temporarily without a king.

Such a constitutional monarchy is quite as compatible with modern parliamentary democracy as are the monarchies of Holland and England. But there would remain a fundamental difference between Israel and the European monarchies, which exist as a matter of historical happenstance. For Israel to establish its claim to be a Jewish state—the core issue of contention between Israel and many of its Muslim neighbors—it must do so in the unique way specified by the Bible and the undivided view of Jewish tradition.

Collateral benefits might ensue from such a declaration. For example, the fact that several Arab countries are monarchies (including Israel’s eastern neighbor) raises the prospect that a Davidic monarchy in Israel might elicit a certain degree of respect. The symbolic importance of acknowledging the House of David as Israel’s rightful ruler, moreover, would be a source of inspiration to many Christians who are favorably disposed towards the Jewish state.

The possible practical benefits, though, are incidental to the purpose of giving expression to the deep Jewish longing for Davidic restoration, expressed so frequently and with such deep emotion in the daily liturgy that Jews have recited for thousands of years, in which we beseech God to see a descendant of David on the throne of Israel.

Michael Wyschogrod is professor emeritus of philosophy at Baruch College of the City University of New York and the author of The Body of Faith .

 

VISIONS AND A VOICE

B”H

VISIONS AND A VOICE

Yochanan Ezra ben Avraham

© 8 Sivan 5778 [22 May 2018]

A Childhood Memory: In the 1970’s when we had our ocean-front home in Longbeach, WA., I used to play my guitar and sing the Tehillim (Psalms of) L’David from a Gideon’s “New Testament with Psalms” but not really knowing how to play the guitar. I would just strum the strings and gave it all it was worth. Now the Holy One has blessed me to be able to sing the Tehillim in Hebrew. In this way, Praise of the L-RD; (for it is written, “Yet Thou art holy, O Thou that art enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” Tehillim 22.3) David became my “king and lord” (Hoshea 3.5) in HaShem’s Monarchy!

A Messianic Vision I was sealed in a vision with the Name of G-D (HaVaYaH) in my forehead as it were: I was walking down a street in Astoria leaving a Messianic Supper and as I walked across a sprinkling mist of water misting from a hose I saw a prism (the colors of a rainbow) reflecting in the late evening sunset. At that instance I saw the Yud Hay Vav Hay (Tetragrammaton) in a vision [that is, the Tetragrammaton was impressed or sealed upon my forehead in a spiritual vision like the prophets of old had visions.] The Tetragrammaton which I saw was surrounded by, and with the colors of the rainbow enfolding within and around the Name/Letters of the Tetragrammaton (“sovev v’memalle” Encompassing and Penetrating or Filling, as it were)! Ezekiel 1.28

HaVaYaH: (lit. “being”); the Tetragrammaton, G d’s Divine Name of the four Hebrew letters Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay, expressing His transcendence of time and space!

Later, when I arrived at the “Upper Room” (a Messianic Meeting Hall) I was asked by David Fisher in front of all those present, “Did you have a vision?” To which I replied, “Yes! Who told you?” But it was obvious that HaShem told David. The vision came with restrained power – powerful yet not debilitating!

Ezekiel 9.4 “And the L-RD said unto him: ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that are done in the midst thereof.'”

Revelation 3.12 “… and I will write upon him the name of my G-D….”

Revelation 14:1-5 …’And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Tzion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.

Revelations 22.4 “And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.”

Another Messianic Vision The second vision I had was while hitchhiking in the evening mist. I was singing to the Holy-One and saw a vision of a chalice being tilted as if drunk from. Then the verse from Revelations 3.20 came to mind. Revelations 3.20 “Behold, I stand at the door, …; and will sup with him, and he with me.”

A Still Small Loving Voice (“I will always Provide for you!”) ( 1 King’s 19.12) While enroute to Klamath Falls as I was hitchhiking I stopped at the Park by Oakridge, Oregon near a river to brush my teeth and drink from the river. I was pretty hungry. As I squatted down to sip from the river, a Clear, Still Small, Most Loving, Caring and Compassionate Voice, (in response to my prayer because I was hungry) called my birth name and said, “I will always provide for you!” Later, that same afternoon I found in a trash can a half of a water-mellon and in another trash can hot dogs and buns which were left over from a Church pick-nik. In quiet assurance, I gave thanks and ate as was my custom.

A Voice in the Night (1 Samuel 3.10) I was asleep in my cell at Oregon State Penitentary and my birth name was called twice, just like in 1 Samuel 3.10! I immeadiately awoke and simply “knew” I was to pray for Denise Schmidt. So I got out of bed and kneeled and prayed for her. As it turned out, her husband, Joe became jealous of our correspondence and they got into a big argument.

An Angel standing guard in the night. (I woke from my sleep and looked towards the cell door and saw an Angel standing guard over me by the door!)

A Genealogical Search & the Christian Identity Movement (Anglo-Israelism): While at the Oregon State Penitentary I was researching my genealogical history, writing a “historical novel” and studying the doctrines of what turned out to be the racist Christian Identity Movement (Anglo-Israelism – World-Wide Church of G-D – Herbert Armstrong).

“Armstrong adhered to a form of British Israelism which stated that the British, American and many European peoples were descended from the so-called Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, using this belief to state that biblical references to Israel, Jacob, etc., were in fact prophecies relating to the modern day, with literal application to the USA, Britain, and the British Commonwealth.”

At some point in time it was propounded to me in Judah’s Septre, Joseph’s Birthright, (J.H. Allen, Destiny Publishers) that the Anglo-Saxon race takes its name from Isaac (viz, saac= Sax-sons).

“Ancient writers, such as Josephus and Jerome would associate the Scythians with the peoples of Gog and Magog, but British Israelist etymologists would see in Sacae a name derived from the biblical “Isaac”,[24]:294–295 claiming that the appearance of the Scythians where they claimed the Lost Tribes were last documented also supported a connection. The chain of etymological identification leading from Isaac to the Sacae was continued to the Saxons (interpreted as Sac’s sons – the sons of Isaac), who are portrayed as invading England from Denmark, the ‘land of the Tribe of Dan’.”

At that time, knowing very little Hebrew I got out my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and Dictionary and discovered that Isaac was actually pronounced: Yitzchaq (Isaac), a far cry from and vs. [Anglo-]Saxson (Isaac’s Sons)! From that moment on I knew that the Christian Identity Movement was in error, I rejected their racist theology and continued to embrace Messianic Judaism until I “Found a Pin” in my cell at Atlanta Pretrial Detention Center (which I sent with a sworn declaration to Ronit Z. Walker).

I FOUND a Pin: While at Atlanta Pretrial Detention Center in 1997 I found a pin/needle and performed hatafot dam (“ritual drawing of a drop of blood from one previously circumcised”) for my “Brit Milah” (Acceptance of the Covenant [of Circumcision] of Avraham)! (My First Passover and Jewish Cuisine is thanks to Attorney at Law Ronit Zivah Walker.

Learning Hebrew: A Sephardi Primer and the Siddur Tehillat HaShem! While at USP Terre Haute an inmate loaned me his Sephardi primer, “Reading Hebrew.” From the primer HaShem taught me to read the Aleph – Bet. I joyously “forced” myself to learn to pronounce the characters and eventually the Hebrew prayers even though I was mocked by Muslim inmates. When I was at Atlanta Pretrial Detention Center in 1997 Rabbi Yosse Lerman of Chabad in Atlanta brought to me a Hebrew Prayer Book – the Hebrew-English Siddur Tehillat HaShem. One day when I was in the middle of prayer, a guard came into my cell and ripped the Siddur out of my hand and threw it across the room (cell). I never saw the siddur again as it was a forced cell move! I made a formal complaint and prayed that morning for a small amount of raisins (from my raisin bran cereal) to make kiddush for the Sabbath. Then I left for Court, came back and there was a surprise waiting for me – the Detention Center Chaplain brought me: a box of Matzah (unleavened bread), a gallon of grape juice, a new Siddur Tehillat HaShem, a Naftali Hertz Artscroll Pesach Machzor (Passover Festival Prayer Book) and a book of poetry on the Holocaust with a picture of a pile of shoes from a concentration camp on it’s cover!

A Punch in the Face: While at the Atlanta Pretrial Detention Center my response to the guards slapping and punching me in the face was for me to get the Pesach (Passover) Machzor and sing Tehillim to the Holy One with tears streaming down my face. My disposition was instantly changed from weeping to estatic joy!

Charged With Attempted Escape: While at Atlanta Pretrial Detention Center, I was Davening (praying the Minchah [afternoon] Tefillah [prayer] – Erev Shabbat) and keeping my Kosher food warm in the sink water and the guard came into my cell and said to me that I was “nothing but trouble since arriving at Pretrial and that I deserved nothing but an “ass woopin” while housed [t]here.” He grabbed me by the tee-shirt collar and flung me out the cell door into the sally-port where he grabbed the back of my head and slammed it face first into the cell door lock cutting my eyebrow ridge! He then went back into my cell and turned off the water. At that moment I saw two female guards as I stepped into the sally-port doorway and called to them as they were about to get on an elevator for them to “get the Shift Lt. “up here” [there] so we could resolve a problem.” When the Lt. came and asked what had happened I explained that I was praying and keeping my meal warm till after sunset and my Sabbath prayers when the guard came into my cell, started harrassing and threatening me with an “ass-woopin!” The Lt. told the guard to “go home;” to which the guard said, “I can’t believe you’re taking the word of an inmate over me!”

The following week I was charged with attempted escape but my diligent attorney had the charges dismissed with excellent examination of the guard at the pretrial hearing! Fortunately, the guard admitted that there was a problem with the Kosher food!

Messianics don’t Marry with a Ketuvah. In 2002, in a heated debate with Thomas “Tommy” Carr, (aka Talmadge “TC” Carr) it was determined that he only married a Jewess by civil marriage without a Ketuvah (marital contract obligating him to fullfill a husband’s three obligation to his wife: food, clothing and conjugal relations. This ended my contact with Messianic Jews. In fact, it was written by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 “… For ye know what commandments we gave you….For this is the will of G-D, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not G-D:That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the L-RD is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For G-D hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

Nor do Messianics Divorce with a Get as it is written: “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but G-D hath called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7.15) Contrast this with the Biblical obligation to write a GET found in Devarim 24 : “When a man takes a wife and is intimate with her, and it happens that she does not find favor in his eyes because he discovers in her an unseemly matter, and he writes for her a document of severance, gives it into her hand, and sends her away from his house. She leaves his house and goes and marries another man….” Devarim (Deuteronomy) 24:1-2. Clearly, a Biblical Divorce requires a document of severance and a sending away! Proof of a Divorce requires a GET “document of severance” – “Thus saith the L-RD: Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, wherewith I have put her away?” Yesheyahu (Isaiah) 50.1

Borrowed Shoes: I did not have shoes to work in while in Jerusalem so I borrowed a pair two sizes too big for me from Rabbi Yoseph Weiss.

Returning lost, forgotten Gold Coins in Y’rushalayim: In 2003 while cleaning rubble in a Wolfson Towers Apartment on Diskin Street in Jerusalem (doing shipootsim [demolition and remodeling] for Rabbi Yoseph Weiss), I found and returned 8 gold [UK] sovereigns to the new owner [Iska DeBeer] of that apartment home! I taped them into a long display in masking tape and put them in my pocket to finish my work when Iska DeBeer came into check on my progress and she jokingly said, “If you find any gems be sure to let me know.” To which I replied, [reaching into my pocket] “You mean like these?” and held out to her the eight gold sovereigns. She then said, “Be sure to mark where you found them so I can return them to the rightful owner!”

An Emerald and a Ruby: Led to my wedding! I fell in love with Grace Farah over her story about her semi-precious stones from all around Eretz-Yisrael. She took each stone out of her purse and placed them on my palm explaining as she did so that her father helped her collect them. The only stones she did not have in her collection, she said were an Emerald and a Ruby. (Before I left Portland, my brother sent to me in the mail a raw un-cut Emerald and a raw un-cut Ruby.) I generously gave them to her as a gift!

Should HaShem Return to Tzion as a Roaring Lion or as a Cooing Dove? (Calling IT’S Mate: Doves Mate for Life!) Surely we could be dealing with Shir ha-Shirim, the Song of Songs, O my dove, in the cranny of the rocks, hidden by the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is comely (Song 2:14)…. a burning question: Should there be a nuclear arms race in the middle east, and wars/terrorism continue, perhaps HaShem will come as a Roaring Lion? Yet in Joel 3.16 and in Hoshea 11.9 Israel finds comfort: “I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am G-D and not man, the Holy One in your midst, And I will not come in wrath. 10They will walk after the L-RD, He will roar like a lion; Indeed He will roar, And His sons will come trembling from the west. 11They will come trembling like birds from Egypt And like doves from the land of Assyria; And I will settle them in their houses, declares the L-RD.… )! One can only Hope for HaShem’s Rachoom (Mercy) while waiting in quiet assurance that the final redemption will be in Mercy!

A Little Theology:

G-D is Not Man is stated in the Hebrew Bible Three Times: B’midbar (Numbers) 23.19, 1 Samuel 15.29 and Hoshea 11.9 (No Trinity Doctrine or deification of man is taught in the Hebrew Bible)!

Human sacrifice is reprehensible to the Holy One. (B’rashith [Genesis] 22.12 “lay not your hand upon the lad nor do anything to him for now I know ….” and, Devarim [Deuteronomy] 12.31 “for even their children they make to pass through the fire.” [“Thou shalt not do so unto the L-RD thy G-D; for every abomination to the L-RD, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters do they burn in the fire to their gods.] Thus it would be reprehensible in the Eyes of the Holy-One to accept “Jesus as the Lamb of G-D which takes away the sin of the world.” John 1.29 )

Vicarious Atonement is not taught in the Hebrew Bible:

Everyone shall be punished for their own sin (except they make Tshuvah)! Devarim 24.16 “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”

“In the eighteenth chapter of Ezekiel, the prophet was teaching his people a fundamental Biblical principle: A righteous person cannot die vicariously for the sins of the wicked. This alien notion was condemned by Ezekiel. He taught that the belief that the innocent can suffer to atone for the sins of the wicked is pagan, and was to be purged from the mind of the Jewish people. This core tenet of Judaism is conveyed explicitly throughout the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. In verses 18:20-23, the prophet declares that true repentance alone washes the penitent clean of all iniquities; every one of his sins are forgiven in Heaven. This chapter is so clear and unambiguous, there can be no other reading of these passages. Blood-sacrifices or the veneration of a crucified messiah are not mentioned or even hinted throughout Ezekiel’s thorough and inspiring discourse on sin and atonement.

Ezekiel’s teaching is not novel. The Jewish people were warned throughout the Torah never to offer human sacrifices. When Moses offered to have his name removed from the Torah in exchange for the sin that the Jewish people had committed with the Golden Calf, the Almighty abruptly refused Moses’ offer. Exodus 32:31-33 Moses, who was righteous with regard to the golden calf, could not suffer vicariously for the sin of the nation. Rather, only the soul that sinned would endure judgment.”

The key to repentence is in man’s hand!

Free will is given to all mankind. Transgressions are by Choice (“Unto you shall be it’s desire but you can rule over it” B’rashith 4.7)! (There is no doctrine of bondage to a sin nature; and we are not “slaves to sin.” John 8.34, Romans 6.20) We have a choice to sin or not to sin: “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the man of iniquity his thoughts; And let him return unto the L-RD, and He will have compassion upon him, And to our G-D, for He will abundantly pardon. Yesheyahu (Isaiah) 55.7
“For I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked….” Y’kezkel (Ezekiel) 18.23, 32; 33.11.

Do not follow a false prophet. False prophets are merely a test for the children of Israel. Devarim (Deuteronomy) 13.4 – “for the L-RD your G-D putteth you to proof, to know whether ye do love the L-RD your G-D with all your heart and with all your soul.”

(Jesus falsely prophesied that he would physically return within the lifetime of his disciples to establish the kingdom of G-D on Earth:

Matthew 16:28, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” Luke 9:27 “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of G-D.” OBVIOUSLY this (Jesus’ imminent return within the 1st Century of the Common Era) did not happen! Moreover, his disciples expected a restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, (Acts 1.6, 7.) but Jesus said that only the Father knew when that would happen! I thought that one of the attributes of HaShem is omniscient (all-knowing). Certainly if Jesus were eternally co-equal with G-D he would know when the Kingdom would be restored to Israel!

Muhammad states in the Quran 40.36-37 that Haman was in the Court of Pharoah, the Egyptian; when in fact Haman was in the Court of Xerxes the Persian [centuries later]! He also states that Pharoah crucified people when it was the Romans [centuries later] who did so Qur’an 7:123-124 . He also mistakenly refers to Mary, the mother of Jesus as Miriam, the sister of Moshe Qur’an 19:27- 28 . He mixed up the stories of the Tower of Babel, Egypt, Pharoah and Esther. A Non-Existent Mosque in Jerusalem: The Quran (7.1) claims the furthest Mosque is in Jerusalem. Muslims claim that Al-Aqsa mosque is mentioned in the Qur’an as the furthest mosque, even though there was obviously no mosque in Jerusalem during Muhammad’s time. A true prophet would not make these mistakes!

The Satanic Verses (by Salman Rushdie) fit neatly into the prohibition to not go after false deities and false prophets, as is found in Devarim (Deuteronomy 13).

“[V]ehement protest against Rushdie’s book” began with the title itself. The title refers to a legend of the Prophet Mohammad, when a few verses were supposedly spoken by him as part of the Qur’an, and then withdrawn on the grounds that the devil had sent them to deceive Mohammad into thinking they came from G-D. These “Satanic Verses” are found in verses eighteen to twenty- two in surah An-Najim of the Qur’an and by accounts from Tabari, but is seldom mentioned in the first biography of Mohammad by Ibn Ishaq. The verses also appear in other accounts of the prophet’s life. They permitted prayer to three pre- Islamic Meccan goddesses*: Al-lāt, Uzza, and Manāt —a violation of monothe- ism. The utterance and withdrawal of the so-called Satanic Verses forms an important sub-plot in the novel, which recounts several episodes in the life of Muhammad. The phrase Arab historians and later Muslims used to describe the incident of the withdrawn verses was not “Satanic verses”, but the gharaniq verses; the phrase ‘Satanic verses’ was unknown to Muslims, and was coined by Western academics specialising in the study of Middle Eastern culture.

(*It should be noted that the Torah prohibits mentioning the names of false deities such as Allah, Al-lāt, Uzza, and Manāt: “And in all things that I have said unto you take ye heed; and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.” Shmoth 23.13)

The Divine Revelation at Har Sinai is the ONLY National revelation of G-D in the entire history of the world, which makes Judaism a unique religion in the history of world religions! The Divine Revelation at Har Sinai has no parallel in the history of world religions. All other religions are based upon an individual receiving a [personal] “revelation;” rather than the Entire Nation receiving a revelation as was the case at Har Sinai on Shavuot [matan Torah]! “Ye are My witnesses, saith the L-RD, And My servant whom I have chosen; That ye may know and believe Me, and understand That I am He; Before Me there was no god formed, Neither shall any be after Me.” (Isaiah 43.10)

Since G-D is not man and Jesus was a man, Jesus is not G-D nor is he Eternally co-Equal with G-D! 1 Corinthians 15.28 states that Jesus shall [according to this Messianic Scripture] be in submission or subjection to G-D! How could G-D [viz e.g. Jesus, the son] be in Submission to G-D [the Father]? G-D cannot change: “For I the L-RD change not; and ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” Malachi 3.6 Moreover, how could G-D (the son) pray to G-D (the Father) as in “My G-D, My G-D, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27.46) Can G-D supplicate, that is PRAY to G-D?

A contradiction arises and there is no contradiction in the truth. Since G-D cannot change and Jesus will eventually be (according to 1 Corinthians 15.28) in submission to G-D, (a change of sovereignty) Jesus is not the “same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13.8).

Man is meant to be Charitable – Tzaddaka Adam. Hence, the Torah’s emphasis on “loving the neighbor and the stranger;” of “not having diverse weights and measures” (prejudice towards our fellow man) and of “not putting a stumbling block before the blind!”

The Jewish Monarchy:The Torah says the People of Israel are to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation! Shmoth (Exodus) 19.6 and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. In Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17.15 the Torah says that when the Jews enter the land of Israel, they shall appoint a king over themselves. Based on this, Maimonides writes that when the Jews entered the land of Israel, they were commanded to do three things: appoint a king, destroy the Amalekites and build a Temple. Maimonides writes further that in the Messianic era a Jewish king will arise and restore Jewish sovereignty, build the Temple in Jerusalem and ingather the exiles. In I Samuel 8.8, however, it says that the Jews were condemned for requesting a king. This seems to be inconsistent.

There is a distinction between the appointment of a king as a substitute for the Al-mighty, as in Samuel’s time, and the appointment of a king as a channel to become closer to G-D (as in the case of King David his “Last Ordinance” and Tehillim (Psalms) 51). Deuteronomy 17:14,15, Mishnah Torah, Laws of Kings, Ch. 1. Specifically, Devarim says, “…whom the L-RD thy G-D shall choose.”

The Torah commands the use of the Urim and Thummim to decide when to go out to war. B’midbar 27.21, Shmoth 28.30, 1 Samuel 28.6, Ezra 2.63

Presumably, the King is to Consult the High Priest and the L-RD would give an answer by the Urim and Thummim excluding the King from making such a decision of his own volition – hence Samuel objects to the type of king they asked for, one like the nations around them; rather than one in subjection to the high priest and the will of HaShem through the Urim and Thummim. They rejected HaShem’s Kingship and asked for a king to lead them out and in from war like the nations around them who do not know HaShem ! 1 Samuel 8.5, 20 (“that we also may be like all the nations.”)

HaShem does not want Israel to “be like all the nations” but to be distinct, set apart, a holy kingdom. Shmoth (Exodus) 19.6 (“and ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.”) “He declareth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Hallelujah.” and see: Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4.8 – “And what great nation is there, that hath statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”

Some Kindly Advice: Respect the Elderly and Your Parents – They are the Gatekeeps of Wisdom and Unity! Keep your vows. Don’t tolerate bullies! Don’t do drugs, tattooings or piercings and Don’t smoke! Use Alcohol in moderation and abstain from sexual gratification except where permissible in a mono-gamous halachicly sanctioned marriage! Sing to HaShem – It will transform the most depressed person. Song is theraputic for the soul.

A Little Kuzari: “The Khazari King with whom the Rabbi debates, in the Kuzari, wants to know why the Rabbi introduced his G-D as ‘The G-D of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,’ instead of by the more grand description, the creator of the heavens and the earth. The Rabbi states that he was following a hallowed precedent: ‘In the same strain spoke Moses to Pharaoh, when he told him: ‘The G-D of the Hebrews sent me to thee,’ viz. the G-D of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob … He did not say: ‘The G-D of heaven and earth,’ nor ‘my Creator and thine sent me.’ In the same way G-D commenced His speech to the assembled people of Israel: ‘I am the G-D whom you worship, who has led you out of the land of Egypt,’ but He did not say: ‘I am the Creator of the world and your Creator.’’ And the reason that the Rabbi gives for this traditional façon de parle is that the Jewish relationship with G-D is, first and foremost, a personal one. They have known G-D directly through His miracles and providence, and thus, ‘I answered thee as was fitting, and is fitting for the whole of Israel who knew these things, first from personal experience [especially via the national revelation at Sinai], and afterwards through uninterrupted tradition, which is equal to the former.’ “

Kuzari opens his discourse with the G-D of Avraham, Yitzchaq, v’Ya’acov because of the passuk:

“And G-D said moreover unto Moses: ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: The L-RD, the G-D of your fathers, the G-D of Abraham, the G-D of Isaac, and the G-D of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial [how I am to be remembered] unto all generations.” Shmoth 3.15

“Further, Kuzari propounds the principle upon which his religious system is founded; namely, that revealed religion [Judaism] is far superior to natural religion. For the aim of ethical training, which is the object of religion, is not to create in man good intentions, but to cause him to perform good deeds. This aim can not be attained by philosophy, which is undecided as to the nature of good, but can be secured by religious training, which teaches what is good. As science is the sum of all truth found by successive generations, so religious training is based upon a set of traditions; in other words, history is an important factor in the development of human culture and science.”

A Little Talmud: (“He Sits and Roars like a Lion”) Talmud Brachot 3a

UNTIL WHEN [How Late in the Evening] MAY THE SHEMA BE RECITED?

“UNTIL THE END OF THE FIRST WATCH. What opinion does R. Eliezer hold? If he holds that the night has three watches, let him say: Till four hours [in the night]. And if he holds that the night has four watches, let him say: Till three hours? — He holds indeed, that the night has three watches, but he wants to teach us that there are watches in heaven8  as well as on earth. For it has been taught: R. Eliezer says: The night has three watches, and at each watch the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and roars like a lion. For it is written: The L-RD does roar from on high, and raise His voice from His holy habitation; ‘roaring He doth roar’9  because of his fold. [….]

Thus I then learned from him three things: One must not go into a ruin; one may say the prayer on the road; and if one does say his prayer on the road, he recites an abbreviated prayer. He further said to me: My son, what sound did you hear in this ruin? I replied: I heard a divine voice, cooing like a dove, and saying: Woe to the children, on account of whose sins I destroyed My house and burnt My temple and exiled them among the nations of the world! And he said to me: By your life and by your head! Not in this moment alone does it so exclaim, but thrice each day does it exclaim thus! And more than that, whenever the Israelites go into the synagogues and schoolhouses and respond: ‘May His great name be blessed!’14  the Holy One, blessed be He, shakes His head and says: Happy is the king who is thus praised in this house!”

“He Sits and Roars like a Lion”

Amos 1.2 “And he said: The L-RD roareth from Zion, And uttereth His voice from Jerusalem;

and the pastures of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.”

Joel 3.16 “And the L-RD shall roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem, And the

heavens and the earth shall shake; But the L-RD will be a refuge unto His people, And a stronghold to

the children of Israel.

Jeremiah 25.30 “Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them: The

L-RD doth roar from on high, And utter His voice from His holy habitation; He doth mightily roar

because of His fold; He giveth a shout, as they that tread the grapes, Against all the inhabitants of the

earth.”

Shir ha-Shirim, (the Song of Songs):

O my dove, in the cranny of the rocks, hidden by the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is comely (Song 2:14)…

Some Poetry:

The Purpose!

The Leaves Fall…

to what purpose…I ask?

The Master’s!

Who is the MASTER … you ask?

of the Leaves!

Why Leaves?

For the Tree … the worms

the crawling things… the soil… the

Eye!

The Eye?

For Beauty…

Whose Beauty … you ask?

The Master’s!

But its naked … she said!

Who is naked … he asked?

The Tree … said the Master!

Why … asked the Sky?

To Know… said the Clouds!

What… asked the Wind?

It’s Essence… said The

MASTER!

CREATION’S GIFT

The Wind Wispers It’s Love,

As It Caresses Creation.

The Birds Briefly Sing Their Praise,

From Dawn Through Dusk.

The Flower’s Fragrance Express Their Joy,

When Blooming Brightly in the Spring Sun.

The Horses’ Hooves When Prancing Upon the Earth,

Shouts a Strength All Their Own.

The Black and White Whales When Crashing Through the Seas,

Declare Dominion They Hold over the Ocean.

The Water Washing In From the Ocean,

Ripples It’s Poetry Sad and Solemnly Upon the Sea’s Shore.

The Moon Magnifies Two Lovers,

As the Clouds Kiss the Sky.

Over It All, The KING Keeps Vigil, Silent* and Waiting,

For the Time When HIS Throne Will Descend to Receive

HIS Handi-work!

*Amos 8.11