This week’s Torah reading is Parshat Shoftim, yet just a few weeks ago, the Jewish people observed Tisha B’Av, mourning the destruction of the first and second temples. It seems God gave us some more time to learn all the laws of the Beit HaMikdash. Seventy years after Israeli political independence, fifty years after liberating Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, and the Third Temple still hasn’t been built? That’s certainly something to mourn over. But is fasting and saying Kinot/dirges, the only thing there is to do?
The Yalkut Shimoni – a midrash – on the Book of First Samuel (106) teaches us an awesome lesson about the Churban/destruction and exile by the Romans, Rabbi Simeon Bar Menasya said, “Israel was only exiled after it rejected the following three things, Malchut Shamayim/the Kingdom of Heaven, Malchut Beit David/Kingship from the House of David, and the Beit HaMikdash/the Holy Temple.
So we learn from this, that the cause of the exile of the Jewish people, was because we took too lightly, Torah observance (God’s rule), we should have demanded a rightful Davidic descendant be appointed as king, once the Maccabees drove out the Syrian Greeks, and Jews didn’t care enough about the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
A variant text in the Yalkut Shimoni explains from a different angle, why the Roman exile would be so long, as opposed to the limited seventy years of Babylonian exile, after the destruction of the First Temple. Rabbi Simeon Bar Menasya predicted, “In the future the following three things will be despised by Israel, the Kingdom of Heaven, David’s kingdom [the Messiah], and the building of the [Third] Temple.”
By the attitudes and behavior of most Jews today; the rampant secularization and assimilation; apathy about the Messianic concept and the Temple; Rabbi Simeon’s prediction seems to have come true.
But there is a third variant text, that gives the solution, how to end the exile. Rabbi Simeon Bar Menasya said, “Israel will not see a sign of the redemption until they repent and demand the following three things, the Kingdom of Heaven, David’s kingdom [the Messiah], and the building of the [Third] Temple.”
To remedy the situation, end exile and bring redemption, Jews must be taught to understand the value of these three things, then begin to demand them, and work to achieve them.
What does all this have to do with Parshat Shoftim? Well, actually quite a lot. This week’s reading, maps out for us, the ideal national structure, the policies of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, that Jews should be striving for today: Malchut/Kingdom, Sanhedrin/Torah, Nevuah/Prophecy, and Kehunah/Temple.
In the parsha, we encounter the Mitzvot/commandments, to establish a Torah-based Legal System (Deut. 16:18) and recognize G-d’s prophets (Deut. 18:15) – the Kingdom of Heaven; to appoint a king, and the laws of war (Deut. 17:14-20, 20:1-20) – David’s Kingdom; and issues dealing with the Priests and Levites (Deut. 18:1) – the Temple.
So, in fact, Rabbi Simeon was telling the Jewish people, to be redeemed, we need to implement those Mitzvot/policies that will re-build the ideal national structure in the Land of Israel.
What might some of these policy goals be? They can be summarized as kingdom and war; law, righteous justice, prosperity; and spirituality.
1. Israel needs a strongly pro-Jewish government. Better yet, how about exploring a kingdom? While waiting for the Son of David to arrive (and we should be petitioning Heaven constantly), the Torah empowers the Jewish people to establish a temporary government. The Maccabees had a kingdom. Monarchy provides a type of stability that democracy doesn’t. With the rise of Islamo-fascism worldwide, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and particularly Iran, ISIS, and Hamastan threatening parts of the Land of Israel, a very strong hand must be used by Israel to defend its people and interests. Something that the current Israeli democracy seems to have trouble with. The conclusions of an earlier article of mine, “There is Only a Military Solution”, ring truer today than ever. In war, you fight to win. Its time to tell Jews the truth: the Arabs in Israel, the so-called “Palestinians”, are Amalek trying to replace us in our homeland, the Jewish Nation-State of Israel. This is total war, a zero-sum game; there will be only one winner, the Jewish people.
2. The legal system of Israel should be brought in line with the values of the Torah. Semicha/classical biblical ordination, has been recently revived. Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, a senior Rabbi on the Edah HaChareidit Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem, was the first to receive Semicha. A nascent Sanhedrin, a working Jewish Supreme Court according to Torah Law, is beginning to come into existence through the efforts of many rabbis and lay leaders. Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz, served as Nasi/President from 2004-2008. A society based on Torah Law will both free up the economy in key ways and establish healthy limits to economic activity, stressing other values beyond consumer consumption and wealth accumulation. It will encourage chesed (acts of kindness) and tzedek (righteousness and justice) through the social sector, building prosperity without hurting the poor and the weak. The final stage of ingathering the exiles will then be accomplished, bringing historical justice to the Jewish people. A just, prosperous, God-Centered Society is the goal. Pursuing spirituality will take center-stage, thus laying the foundation for the return of Prophecy and establishing Israel as a true, “Or LaGoyim/light unto the nations,” as envisioned by the prophet Isaiah.
3. We need to clean those insults to our religion, the so-called dome and mosque, off the Temple Mount. Jewish spiritual rebirth demands complete control over our holiest places in the Land of Israel. Let’s think really big. It’s time to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount. There are Torah sources allowing it to be done before the Messiah comes. Building God’s House, would be the greatest Kiddush HaShem/Sanctification of His Name/expression of His Power & Rulership in this world, imaginable.
Let’s start before Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year and Coronation Day for the King of the Universe!
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master’s Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2018/5778 Pasko