Who is the Supreme Authority in Israel?
This cartoon by my friend Yaakov Kirschen points out the absurdity in what is going on in the State of Israel this week.
Days before Rosh HaShana (which we also call Yom HaDin – the Day of Judgment) Israel’s Supreme court was hearing arguments about whether or not the Supreme Court had the authority to cancel a Law passed by the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) that restricts the authority of the Supreme Court!
If that made your head spin, it was supposed to. But Kirschen brilliantly pointed out the paradox in his cartoon.
To put it more simply, they are arguing over who is the Supreme Authority in Israel … the Knesset, or the Supreme Court.
Rosh HaShanah – Crowning the King
Adding to the irony… tomorrow night (Friday), we begin Rosh HaShana.
The essence of the day in our Jewish Liturgy is to accept God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, the One who brought us out of Egypt and gave us the Land of Israel, as our King!
That means we choose to accept Him as the Supreme Authority, and obey His Laws, in His Land.
We are warned in the Torah portions that we have been recently reading in Synagogue that observing God’s laws in the Land are a condition for living securely on the Land!
The following is excerpted from Deuteronomy, Chapter 11
Love HaShem your God and always keep God’s charge, God’s laws, God’s rules, and God’s commandments…
Keep all the commandments …, so that you may have the strength to enter and take possession of the land … and that you may long endure upon the soil that God swore to your forefathers…
If you obey the commandments …
I will grant the rain for your land in season... You shall gather in your new grain and wine and olive oil—… you shall eat your fill.
Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them.
For God’s anger will flare up against you, shutting up the skies so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce; and you will soon perish from the good land that God is assigning to you.
Therefore impress these My words upon your very heart: bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, and teach them to your children—…; and inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates—
so that you and your children may endure, in the land that God swore to your fathers to assign to them, as long as there is a heaven over the earth.
If you faithfully keep all this Instruction that I command you, loving your God, walking in all God’s ways, and holding fast to [God],
He will dislodge before you all these nations: you will dispossess nations greater and more numerous than you.
Every spot on which your foot treads shall be yours; your territory shall extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River—the Euphrates—to the Western Sea.
No one shall stand up to you: your God will put the dread and the fear of you over the whole land in which you set foot, as promised.
In the absence of a formal constitution, the Supreme Court has often turned to the Declaration of Independence (which has no legal status in Israel) for its inspiration and justification to decide if laws passed by the Knesset are reasonable because they seem “undemocratic.”
Attorneys for the Government are arguing that the Basic Laws passed by the Knesset are quasi-constitutional and the Courts have no jurisdiction in deciding if they are “reasonable.”
My prayer is that the Attorneys for the Government and the Supreme Court Justices at least read the Book of Deuteronomy if not the entire Tanach and Talmud to seek out what “constitutes” the Nation of Israel’s values and yes, laws.
May we all choose to accept the Almighty as our Supreme Authority and follow His Laws… and thereby merit to be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a sweet year.
Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!
Rabbi Shmuel Veffer