Appoint A King Over Yourselves? Not so Fast!

The Role of Government in Israel: Almost Nothing, or Absolutely Nothing?

“You shall surely place a king upon yourselves, one that Hashem your God has chosen…”

~Deuteronomy 17:15

We are told in this week’s Parasha that we are required to place a king upon ourselves. From here it is assumed that the Torah supports the idea of monarchy. It’s not that simple.

There are two main tanaitic positions regarding this Pasuk. The more familiar one originates from the Tanah Rebbi Yehuda Bar Ilai. He holds that having a monarch is a positive mitzva. If so, what are the monarch’s responsibilities?

According to the Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 4:10, the only areas of jurisdiction he has are defense and courts. Nothing else.

Not education, not welfare, not culture, not price controls, not central banking. In libertarian terminology, we would call this the minarchist position, meaning absolute minimum government.

But there is another position, that of the Yerushalmi Rabanan. Says Midrash Rabba Shoftim:

“Say the Rabanan: Said the Holy One Blessed Be He: In this world you requested kings and kings from Israel rose up and killed you by the sword. Saul killed them at Mount Gilboa…Ahab stopped the rain…and Zedekiah destroyed the Temple.

“When Israel saw what happened to them during the reign of their kings, they all started screaming: We do not want a king from Israel! We want our original King! (Isaiah 33) For God is our Judge and our Legislator. God is our King and our Savior!

“Said the Holy one Blessed Be He to them: By your lives! This I will do!

“As it says (Zechariah 14) ‘And God will be King over all the Earth etc.’”

The Rishonim Abarbanel and Ibn Ezra agree with this second position. Says Ibn Ezra:

“A king is only an option. Only a prophet or the Urim and Tumim may choose one. The people may not elect one themselves.”

So much for democracy.

Abarbanel says explicitly that the minarchist position is incorrect and that the pre-Monarchic regime of the Shoftim was preferable. Essentially, appointing a king was therefore an option, but a mistaken one.

Let’s not forget that this pasuk about a king has been abused by evil people like Rav Shlomo Aviner who defended the expulsion of Jews from their homes on the grounds that the government is like a King and must be obeyed.

The most important thing though is that the machlokes in Halacha on government’s role is between absolute minimum government as per the Rambam (courts and defense only) and no government at all, as per the Ibn Ezra and Abarbanel.

Whichever side you fall on, there is no legitimacy to the government doing anything else whatsoever.

Advertisements

Mohamed Ali, A Personal Hero

I don’t love everything about Mohamed Ali. I don’t like everything about anybody. But he was a good man fundamentally, though confused about some things. He taught everyone that while being a jerk for entertainment may have been distasteful and annoying, being a decent human being where it counts is what really matters.

He was a fighter for entertainment. Fighting with people who agreed to fight him back. A boxer in words and fists. And he stood up against the US Government and he would not let them take him to Vietnam to go kill a bunch of Asians and burn their children.

Politicians are all polite and decent in their external, superficial personas. Deep down they all have evil souls. They will go after UFC fighting rings like John McCain and call them “human cockfighting” and try to pass a law saying it is “indecent” while they go around authorizing more bombing campaigns to kill millions.

Boxers like Mohamed Ali are not polite and decent superficially. They are trash talkers but only superficially, because that’s the entertainment they provide. But when it comes down to what really matters – are you going to kill people or not, people who did nothing to you – he stood up to the State and said no. He would not. He would rather go to prison. And so would I. And so he did. And he lost his sport, his livelihood, his reputation for a while, but in the end he won that greatest of fights, too. Not in the ring with another boxer, but in the global ring with the government – he fought and he won.

And he didn’t let all the academic bull about patriotism and duty and American the Great and Beautiful confuse him. America is not great and beautiful. Only some individuals are. Some are not.

Ali was wrong about the enemy being the “white people” obviously. The enemy is the State, which grinds races against one another by taking money from one to give to another. But for his absolutely courageous bravery in standing up to the warmongering politicians, he is my hero.

I love Mohamed Ali, and the world is worse off without him in it.

יהי זכרו ברוך.

Why Adele is Just as Awesome as Amy Lee

A few months ago I wrote a post about Amy Lee, praising her for her music but most of all for being a normal person.

Adele fits that category too. I’ve known about her for years but her latest single Hello got me interested in researching her a bit. Apparently, she’s pretty freakin’ normal too. She’s engaged with a kid at 25 (she had a kid at 25, she’s older now), she’s plus size and not a perfect music star body type, but she has lost significant weight since whenever it was she came out with Rolling in the Deep. So it’s not like she’s let herself go or anything like that. Her soon to be husband looks like a fun character goofball type.

You can tell her hair is usually crazy and requires a lot of taming for the stage. Everyone in my family has crazy hair, except me because I cut it off and my son doesn’t have any hair.

When she gets on stage she just sings. She doesn’t womp around on stage, and she wears very nice dresses. She’s a talented enough singer that she doesn’t have to distract you with dance moves. It’s rare that a singer just sings these days. Her performance is almost entirely in her face. The entertainment is to just listen to her and watch how her own music affects her and let it affect you. She feels like a throwback to the 20’s or 30’s with a modern twist. Just beautiful music.

Most importantly, she’s considered a recluse among the famous people community. She doesn’t want anything to do with that and would much rather just live a normal life.

This quote, for example, is gold:

“I think it has a lot to do with becoming a parent,” she added. “When I was turned 25 I was quite shocked. I didn’t think I was old or anything like that, I just couldn’t remember where the last five years had gone. I think it’s the same that happened with every area of my life: My real life, my career, obviously becoming a mom, and stuff like that. It was not remembering very much of it because so much happened and it frightened me.”

The 27-year-old singer also shot down claims that she was a “recluse,” instead revealing that she just won’t give into the Hollywood spotlight.

“I’m not blinded by the persuasion of fame,” she said. “Fame is not real, so how am I suppose to write a real record for anyone to enjoy if I’m living a very fake life?”

Wow is that relatable or what? Also a wysiwyg woman, which is obvious from her stage name, just Adele. She was discovered after she put a demo on Myspace in 2006. (What the heck is Myspace? Hehe…)

I’m more into the louder rock/metal music but I recognize her songs are great. So I searched around for metal covers and I found this TOTALLY AWESOME GUY from Norway. His facial expressions are so nuts it’s great! Cracks me up…

My Reaction to the Supreme Court Jerusalem Ruling

I wrote this on Facebook just now, in a comment:

I don’t understand why anybody cares what a bunch of deadbeats on a bench think of what should accepted as the “capital” of another group of deadbeats in the knesset. Well, I understand it. People think the deadbeats’ opinions matter and have some cosmic meaning on something. I just think it’s stupid, and it won’t affect anyone’s life, and people can still (!) amazingly, consider Jerusalem the capital of the universe if they want to, and politicians, whether they are on the bench or in the knesset or in jail or on the moon, don’t matter.