Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Translation (sort of) of the "Danger: Sanhedrin!" Article

What follows is a very rough translation of much of R. Yehuda Henkin’s article.

An important note: I would like to thank “itsallgood” for helping translate it. Very helpful! That said I’m afraid I almost certainly completely butchered the translation when I tried to polish it up. I still need loads of work on my Hebrew. That’s why I say it’s a very rough translation just to give you the jist of the article. I welcome all comments on fixing up this translation. Or if anyone knows of a better translation done on this please let me know. Thanks!

[Start Article]
Danger: Sanhedrin!

I suppose I’m not the only one that regarded the Sanhedrin publicity with amused tolerance. The gap between the Sanhedrin according to Halacha and the Sanhedrin according to “public relations” is so great, it would seem even its founders won’t take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, as a demonstration of longing for what has been missing from the Jewish scene for 2000 years, the Sanhedrin doesn’t fall short in its educational value from “machon ha’mikdash”. And if it won’t help, it won’t hurt.

I was wrong. “The Special Court For Matters Concerning The Nation and the State under the Auspices of the Sanhedrin,” a very pretentious name, published an amateurish Psak Halacha in the form of a letter of encouragement to the people dragged out of Amona, signed by a few unknown Rabbis as an Halachic ruling, piggybacking on the name “Sanhedrin.” The letter rejects any authority of all of Israel’s governments since the founding of the state until today, and was published in a famous magazine for youth (!) “Olam Katan” as well as elsewhere.

I will be content with examining the first part of the letter, in which there is a clear Halachic precedent but only seemingly:

The open question: Does the current government and its conclusions, impose an authentic obligation on us?

Answer: In order for a law or rule to be imposed as an obligation on us according to halacha three basic conditions need to be filled:

1. The law should be decided by people who know Torah and fear G-d.
2. The people were appointed by G-d fearing Jews.
3. The law was decided according to the Torah.

If these conditions aren’t fulfilled, and the government acts against the nation and the Torah, they are considered an “evil conspiracy” and it can not be regarded.

It is clear that the above occurs to all the governments since 1948, because for all of them the following conditions were not met: “The law should be decided by people who know Torah and fear G-d,” and who were “appointed by G-d fearing Jews.” But that is not what HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohein Kook wrote in “Mishpat Kohein” (144:1-15) “But when there is no king, since the laws of ruling also apply to the general state of the nation, the constitutional rights return to the nation at large” he did not precondition that the voters and those elected must be Shomrei Mitzvot.

In “Tzitz Eliezer” (10:1:14) he wrote “Also today the President, the Government and the Knesset (with all their flaws regarding religion, and with it being clear that regarding religion their decisions hold no obligation whatsoever) that were chosen by the majority of nation who reside in Israel instead of a king, they stand in all matters pertaining to the general state of the nation, that’s needed presently and internationally politically.”

[At this point the author – if I understand it correctly - cites many more sources supporting his claim that a government, even an evil one, can be authorized to rule over Israel despite the population not being G-d fearing. Indeed this is the very meat of his point and if anyone could help translate this part it would be appreciated. The author concludes:]

It’s not because I have sympathy for the latest Israeli governments, the opposite is true, but you can not use halacha as bandaid.
[End Article]

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