A <i>Halachic</I> State

The caustic reaction I receive from fellow Jews does not cease to amaze me whenever I suggest that the state of Israel should make its official position to strive towards a <i>halachic</i> (Jewish law) government. I get this reaction from both observant Jews, as well as non-observant Jews, which goes to show that our fundamental underpinnings of Judaism have been distorted, at best. We live as Jew

Contributing Author,

Writing on the wall: Death to Jews
Writing on the wall: Death to Jews
photo
The caustic reaction I receive from fellow Jews does not cease to amaze me whenever I suggest that the state of Israel should make its official position to strive towards a halachic (Jewish law) government. I get this reaction from both observant Jews, as well as non-observant Jews, which goes to show that our fundamental underpinnings of Judaism have been distorted, at best. We live as Jews and we observe our traditions and minhagim (conventions), but become oblivious to what Judaism is all about. First, if I were to ask what makes a Jew, a Jew, I will probably get as many responses as the number of people responding.

It is the Maimonidian construct that Torah is the constitution of Israel. The majority of Jews around the world would probably tell me, ?That?s your opinion!? Well, Torah is the constitution and it is within the context of this constitution that we are defined as Jews. Without Torah, there are no Jews and without Torah, there is no state of Israel.

HaShem chose us and presented us with a deal that most mortals can only dream about - to be partners with HaShem in the olam haze (this world) and olam haba (the world to come). We accepted the deal, but today we reject the responsibility. HaShem chose us out of no merit of our own, but in the merit of Avraham avinu (our father). He said He would create a great nation, a nation after His own heart. At Mt. Sinai, HaShem offered us a package deal. Included in this deal was the 613 item constitution, which would make us a nation, the land, which would give us a geographical presence among nations of the world, and the identity (Jewish neshama [spirit]), which would make us a distinct people, set apart from the non-Jews.

The land of Israel is not just some real estate that HaShem promised to us. It is the only real estate on the planet that HaShem claimed for Himself, and made us trustees and stewards of that real estate as part of the package deal and we agreed to it. We cannot unilaterally change that deal. Negotiating any land abrogates our agreement with HaShem.

The 613 item constitution evolved, as intended, into the codicil of Israel. The Oral Torah would be basically divided into statutory law and case law - together, halacha. Many authorities will debate as to which is which, but they all agree that there is a place for both in the bigger scheme of Jewish Law. Furthermore, it is clear to the casual eye of the legal expert that in Torah, Israel is structured as a republic in which the Beit Din HaGadol (?Supreme Court?) has both judiciary and legislative functions. The irony of this is that non-Jewish nations have governmental structures that are more consistent with Torah than the state of Israel. We have been a ?light to the nations? despite ourselves.

Arguments may be posed for or against halacha, and indeed some of the halachot may even be ?unconstitutional?. It is unfortunate that halacha has evolved over the past 2,000 years without the benefit of a Beit Din HaGadol, and that is part of our problem today. Even if one were to ask halachic authorities, the qualifications of who can sit on the Beit Din HaGadol have departed from the original intent. In the United States, for example, there are many laws that are unconstitutional. We do not cancel the US Constitution because of it. In Israel, we have in effect cancelled the constitution because there are many halachot that the people simply do not like, mainly out of ignorance.

Halacha recognizes that not everyone can be observant to the highest level, in all things, at all times. As such, every Jew lives somewhere on the spectrum of halacha, whether he acknowledges it or not. Halacha acknowledges every Jew. For this reason, a halachic state is possible even when the majority of people are derelict of halacha. As if HaShem says, ?That?s a good place to start.?

At this point, the state of Israel does not even acknowledge this possibility, out of fear of being labeled a ?religious? state. Unlike non-Jewish nations, Israel is already a ?religious? state by definition. The simple acknowledgment that we should be a halachic state will be music to HaShem?s ears, so to speak, because it frees Him up to do things that He cannot do now. The Torah covenant is bilateral. We have our part and He has His part. If we refuse to do our part, we tie His hands, as it were. It is one thing to say we strive to be halachic, while we fall short dismally. It is something else to say that we do not want to have anything to do with Torah whatsoever. We may be living exactly the same way of life, but because the former puts us under the hegemony of HaShem, He counts the intent of a Jew as fait accompli and, hence, begins to mobilize the universe in our favor.

In the covenant, we recite every morning, if we do not honor our side of the deal, He will send a drought to our land and our cattle would starve, he would send Yasser Arafat and Hitler to harass us, and so on. He never said He would cancel the deal; in fact, the deal has no exit clause.

There is war looming in the region. It will create new opportunities for Israel and the region. HaShem, in His wisdom, has given us 50 years to prepare and we should take advantage of this opportunity to be who we are. We should strive towards a halachic state. While this makes the hair on many Jewish heads stand on end, it is the inevitability of our future as a state. Let me clarify that a ?halachic? state and a ?religious? state are not synonymous concepts. There are times in Jewish history when the nation was involved in avoda zara, while a halachic state nonetheless. The nation can be halachic without being religious. The term ?religious? is an unfortunate, non-Jewish construct that does not belong in the Jewish lexicon. Judaism is a system of government in which HaShem and His people have a covenant.

HaShem chose us to be His partners as trustees of Torah, the constitution of His system, to protect and observe it. Any mortal who understands what a privilege it is to be chosen partner by the Creator of the universe would jump at the opportunity. Yet, we have had the privilege so long and we have suffered so much for it that we no longer think of it as a privilege. But there is evidence all around us showing that HaShem has His claim on us. This claim includes the impartation of the Jewish neshama, an unquenchable uniqueness that makes a Jew, a Jew inside. Many of us have squandered it in frivolity, but a time is coming when we will do what is right. Unfortunately, times like that seem to come with the threat of ovens or firing squads.
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Moshe Yisraeli is a promulgator of Jewish thought in modern times. He resides in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and can be reached at mosheyisraeli@yahoo.com.


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