As he no doubt knows, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should facilitate the ingathering – the immigration to Israel – of endangered European Jews. However, I have in mind not only the urgency of saving Jews from the barbarism of Muslim migrants inundating Europe. In this period of political chaos, massacres, and natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and epidemics, the Jews of Israel need to think Big, in theological, hence biblical terms.
The ingathering: only the beginning
The dispersal of our people among the nations desecrates God’s name. Hence, we have to complete the ingathering of Jews. That ingathering miraculously occurred with the rebirth of the state of Israel in 1948. This ingathering also witnessed the restoration of our holy tongue, a precondition of Jewish unity, Jewish exclusivity, and Jewish creativity.
What very much needs emphasis is that Israel’s rebirth is only the prelude to the construction of the Third Temple. However, this world-historic achievement requires a thorough reconstruction of Israel’s fragmented and divisive political system.
A paralyzing government
Presently, Israel’s inept system of multiparty cabinet government paralyzes it. More than thirty narrow and ego-driven political parties compete for seats in Israel’s Knesset, the Legislature. This mishmash produces a paralytic Executive branch consisting of five or six ego-driven parties. Each of them seeks to maximize its share of the national treasury. Israel needs more than electoral reform. Israel sorely needs a comprehensive constitution, one comparable to that of the Hebrew Republic of antiquity. Here, some reflection on the ideas that produced the American Republic might help.
America’s eighteenth-century revolutionary reformers, especially the Puritans, saw in the Mosaic Law an excellent model for modern government. “Many New England divines agreed with Harvard President Samuel Langdon when he declared, in his election sermon of 1775, that ‘the [ancient] Jewish government … if considered merely in a civil view, was a perfect republic.”*
The original Jewish Republic
That Republic had a unitary Executive (the king). The Executive had a check and a balance: the Legislature (the Sanhedrin, the “Elders”). With the establishment of this tribunal of Elders, who were not priests, the twelve tribes of Israel had a decentralized or federal system of government for settling disputes and for developing a diverse and ethical way of life.
A brief look at 1 Samuel 8:7 ( the constitutional significance of which scholars have overlooked), reveals much:
Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you. For it is not you whom they have rejected, but it is Me whom they have rejected [in demanding a king] from reigning over them.
Reform the government now
This verse of Samuel, the head of the Sanhedrin, affirms more than the principle of popular sovereignty. Samuel’s opposition to the kingship desired by the people should construe as his opposition to an Executive having the judicial-legislative powers which the Torah prescribes for the Sanhedrin. Samuel’s opposition therefore anticipates the separation of powers doctrine evident in the American Constitution, but lacking in the Government of present day Israel.
As indicated, this Government does not prescribe the unitary executive of the Hebraic Republic. Instead it prescribes a pluralistic executive consisting of members drawn from rival parties in the Legislature, the Knesset! Thus America’s Constitution is more Jewish than Israel’s present system of governance. For that reason, the present writer has repeatedly proposed fundamental reform of Israel’s admittedly dysfunctional system government for more than twenty years!☼
*See Samuel Langdon, “Election Sermon of 1775,” in John Wingate Thornton, Pulpit of the American Revolution (Boston: 1860), 239.
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