Sunday, June 1, 2014

4th of July and Kingdom of Gerim


Second installment of my essay about influences on the writers of American Declaration of independence and creators of political system which I believe was closest attempt to provide humanity with freedom to find the way back to lost Freedom.

L Kuvod Yom Tov Hashvios Zman matan Toirusaynee – For glory of holyday of Shvios day of gift of Torah – exceptional day for gerim.

Jewish Kingdoms

Descendants of Yaakov-Yisrael are the people chosen to be the spiritual leaders of humanity in the task of bringing mankind to ultimate recognition of Creator and His laws of morality. 
This is our sole destiny; this is  both our burden and our privilege . Ohr l'goyim and Mamleches Kohanim— this is what we are declared to be by the Torah . The light for the nations and the kingdom of priests – an assembly of people in charge of building unity between the Creator and His creation.
If we Jews are responsible for building  the moral, social and political progress of humanity, how is that reflected in what was expected to serve as the prime example of a perfect society which we were supposed to build in Eretz Yisroel, the holy land? What about other Jewish governments and kingdoms in history? Did they meet the ideal expected from us by the Creator?
The answer is provided by our sages, and unfortunately, the answer is - no.
The Jewish government and Jewish kings are supposed to serve only one goal:  the fulfillment of the laws of the Torah by the people of the Torah. This ideal has never  been realized; it is still awaiting us under the King Mashiach, whose days should come speedily.
We were close to the realization of a perfect society at the time of Shlomo Hamelech – king Salomon. Then Chizkiyahu Hamelech was a tefach – a handbreadth away from being Mashiach, but we, the people, were not ready yet.
We were able to build theocratic societies at certain points of our history, which were close to the ideal but never achieved it. It is necessary to say that theocracy was possible only at the time of prophets and prophecy. I believe that it was still possible during the times of the Anshey Kneses Hag'dolah, the Great Assembly,  when prophecy was taken away from the Jewish people soon after the second Temple was built. There is no possibility of theocracy anytime after that and in any other land than Eretz Yisroel.
Without the prophets or smicha - the authority of judges transmitted from generation to generation, the building of a government ruled by G-d is impossible. This ideal is temporarily lost, and the only alternative which may find acceptance and pleasure in the eyes of the Creator is when His free, independent, tolerant people will rule themselves according to the moral law known as the sheva mitzvos bnei Noach. Those rules are taught to humanity in G-d's scriptures, by the example of His chosen people, or by the recognition of the foundations of those moral laws in nature. Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch writes in his commentary on Torah that the seven mitzvos bnei Noach  can be discerned by any sensitive intellect.

Only once more in  history was there a government ruled by the Jews, as according to the Talmud we are prohibited to have our Jewish government until arrival of Mashiach. It was not a government created by Jews, but one which became Jewish to a certain extent.

The kingdom of Khazaria

We have very limited information about the kingdom of Khazaria and the acceptance of the Jewish religion by its leaders, but we have even less  information about its social and political system.
At the end of the 9th century, King Bulan accepted Judaism for himself and his country, and although he was converted to Judaism by legitimate Rabbis of Talmudic Judaism, he himself never came to the level of observance which he perhaps wished  to come to. 
Obadiah, who was probably Bulan’s grandson, hired Rabbis and Jewish advisers and built synagogues and yeshivos to provide his country's citizens with a proper Jewish education, allowing them to be kosher Jews.
One of the striking characteristics of Bulan's kingdom is that, unlike many believe, most of its citizens were not Jewish. Even though some members of the aristocracy converted to Judaism, and there were Jews born to Jewish families and converts among the citizens of kingdom of Khazaria, the majority of its citizens were Christians, Muslims and Pagans. The Jewish king of Khazaria provided respected religious societies with their own independent court systems and judges judging people according to their laws. In the Jewish theocratic kingdom in Eretz Yisroel, it would have been impossible to tolerate pagans, for example, as citizens unless their form of paganism would recognize One Creator and basic moral regulations.
King Joseph of Khazaria declared in his letter to Jewish sage Ibn Shaprut, who lived in today’s Spain in the 10th century, that his ruling Jewish ancestors expelled and uprooted   witches and wizards. We must understand that those wizards were not Gandalfs or Harry Potters, but rather  worshipers of dark forces of asocial tendency. However, in this kingdom ruled by Jews, there was a complete separation of state from religion.
The kingdom of Khazaria was still not government from the people, by the people and for the people, but the Jewish kings of Khazaria provided their citizens with the freedom known to us from the document written by the founding fathers of the United States of America. How did it come to this —  the Jewish idea of the coexistence of different religious societies occupying one country where religion of the aristocracy or ruling class has nothing to do with their service to the country and religion of its citizens? Once more, we will skip a few centuries and we will find the thread in 16th -century Poland. It is needless to say that it would be extremely difficult – but not impossible – to find the sources of the American political system in Poland if not for my background.

Matys Weiser

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