Torah Fax
Friday, August 18, 2006 - 24 Menachem Av, 5766

Torah Reading:  Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18 - 21:9)
Candle Lighting Time: 7:23 PM
Shabbat Ends: 8:25 PM
Pirkei Avot: Chapter 6

In Order To Form A More Perfect Union
Trust is the word that we hear lately being discussed. Can we trust the CEOs of our corporations? Can we trust the stock market? Can we even trust our trust companies? From a Jewish standpoint, it is obvious that there is only one entity in whom we can put our trust, and that is G‑d. For only G‑d has the power to keep all His promises and only G‑d represents absolute consistency and reliability.
Nevertheless, G‑d did put us in an un-G‑dly world. Indeed, the very word for world in Hebrew, Olam, actually means concealment, because its true Divine nature is not apparent. How do we bridge the gap between impeccable G‑dly trust and the less than honest world in which we live?
The answer to these questions is provided for in this week's parsha - Shoftim, which deals with the four branches of the Jewish government: the monarchy, the judiciary, the priesthood and the prophets. When these branches of government follow the Torah's dictates, society at large is invested with Divine truth and trust.
Why were all these branches needed? On the surface it appears that is was the forerunner of the American separation of powers system. Upon deeper reflection that assessment is only partially true. A Kohain/priest was not permitted to become a king. Likewise a king could not be a member of the judiciary. However, the judiciary did comprise Kohanim/priests. In addition, the three branches of priesthood, the judiciary and prophecy could all reside in one person.  For example: Jeremiah was a prophet, a priest and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of ancient Israel.
What emerges from this analysis is that the essential separation of powers applied specifically to the monarchy. A king, who had to simultaneously deal with the more mundane affairs of running a government while also serve as a spiritual individual who inspired and uplifted his countrymen, could not serve in the Holy Temple or render justice as a member of the judiciary. At all times, there had to be a body of Divinely directed people - the judges of the Sanhedrin - to whom even the king was accountable.
Were he to be a participant in the judicial process, there would always be the danger that the authority vested in him might prejudice the other judges to follow his approach. Moreover, a king’s first responsibility was to ensure the security and physical well being of his country. It is only natural that his mindset would be attuned to the materialistic needs of the people. Thus, whereas a judge must evaluate every issue brought before him with total objectivity, a king's judgment might be tainted based on his predisposition to provide for the needs of his people. A judge must view issues solely through the prism of the Torah and its halachic requirements.
These two world outlooks: viewing the world through the prism of worldly needs vs. viewing the world through the prism of Torah, could often clash. A king had to know that the word of G‑d conveyed to him, either by way of a prophet or by way of judicial order, superceded any feeling or understanding of his own.
Though the rule of the Torah was to separate the powers, there were notable exceptions to this rule. The most famous exception was Moses. Moses was the Chief Justice of the Sanhedrin of his time, and Moses was also the leader and monarch of the Jewish nation. Furthermore, Moses was the ultimate prophet and Moses also served as High Priest (at least until after Aaron was initiated, and according to another view in the Talmud, until his passing.)
What this exception to the rule tells us is that ideally, all of these sources of influence and power should nurture one another. A king should be informed and inspired by the judiciary, priesthood and prophets.
A king is likened to our heart because it pumps the blood throughout the body. The heart also symbolizes our emotions, which control every facet of our being. A king is also compared to the brain that dictates orders to the body. However, even a king must be under the direction of the Sanhedrin, the teachings of the Torah. In terms of our own lives, as important as emotions and human intellect are, they must be guided by Torah-oriented intellect. Also, we must always try to connect to G‑d by finding the Divine inspiration within our soul-the prophet within us-and translate that into heartfelt and sincere prayers to G‑d. 
Our Sages refer to Moshiach as a king, a teacher of Torah and a prophet. Moshiach will combine the diverse sources of power in a healthy way, where one power will not only not clash with the other, but actually reinforce and enhance the other. Our way of preparing for Moshiach is to recognize the need for the separation of powers, so as not to compromise their integrity, while, simultaneously allowing for their synthesis.
Moshiach Matters
The final and concluding blessing of the Seven blessings recited at the wedding ceremony quotes a prophetic passage regarding the Era of Redemption - "...there shall speedily be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy and the sound of happiness, the sound of a chassan and the sound of a kallah." This shall take place in the course of the true and complete Redemption, through Moshiach. (Hitvaaduyot 5745, Vol. V, pp. 2,883-4)

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